Call to action: Do you think visible tattoos are an invitation to stare?

·Caitlin McCormack
Call to action: Do you think visible tattoos are an invitation to stare?

A blog post on LinkedIn titled "But You Asked Me to Stare At Your Tattoos" is sparking debate after its author declared that if someone has a visible tattoo (especially in a professional environment) they are inviting attention on themselves.

Ghostwriter and magazine columnist Jeff Haden writes that while in a meeting recently, he encountered a man with a full sleeve tattoo. After looking at his body art for "a couple of seconds" the man apparently asked Haden, "Would it be easier if you just took a picture?"

Haden goes on to write that in his head he's thinking, "Wait. You have this huge, colorful, incredibly eye-catching tattoo. And you're wearing a shirt with unusually short sleeves. It's like you're paraphrasing Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men: 'You want me to see your tattoo. You need me to see your tattoo.'"

Right. Obviously the first thing a person thinks when they're getting a potentially visible tattoo is how many people they can get to stare at it, and how they simply need that sort of attention.

"But that sleeve tattoo? That complex design on your calf? That tattoo on your wrists? Those angel wings across your shoulders? And the fact your clothing choices ensure your tattoos are always visible… even in a professional setting?

While those tattoos are indeed for you, they are also definitely for us."

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But not everyone who has a visible tattoo thinks about it when getting dressed in the morning replied some commenters. For those with tattoos, they often become a part of the person – not standing out in any particular way. People will often overlook their body art until someone else comments on it.

"For most people who have had their tattoos for any length of time, it isn't something that you think about with any frequency. TBH, I don't even notice it as 'different' anymore. It's just a part of you - like grey hair, a large nose, or 'flamingo legs'," writes Kristen Stine. "People say to me 'what's that', pointing at my arm. I often get flustered expecting to see a bug or something unsightly when I look down. However, I just see my arm, and then take a second to explain why I think all animals deserve consideration. Then I go about my day."

Others draw comparisons to the debate around a woman's dress "encouraging" unwanted attention.

"If a young lady chooses to wear a skirt so short that her underwear is part of her ensemble, if she doesn't consider that this will attract a lot of attention, she's a bit on the delusional side," writes another commenter.

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Still others agree with Haden and go so far as to say that visible tattoos have no place in the workplace.

"I must be the only person I know who would say: If you don't want people to stare, wear a long sleeve shirt in this air-conditioned office. Clearly you want people stare," writes Mike Avelar.

Haden closes his piece with the following:

"Make a statement, bold as you like -- professional setting or otherwise -- with your apparel, your accessories, your tattoos, your piercings, or your actions. I think it's great.

Just don't get mad when people look for a beat longer than usual… and occasionally even stare.

That must be your intention.

After all -- you invited us to."

So, we want to know: What do you think about Haden's comments, and the subsequent debate? Do you think people with visible tattoos are asking to be stared at or should people keep their eyes to themselves? Tell us in the comments below.

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