Despite having been around for thousands of years, tattoos still attract a fair amount of criticism in certain social circles today. They’re often seen as unprofessional or unattractive, or – to quote my grandmother, who has seen my own tattoos – “not very ladylike”.
But, of course, giving something a bad reputation doesn’t always put people off doing it. In fact, for some rebels, it only spurs them on further.
Dr. Sarah Gray, a 30-year-old medical professional from Adelaide, Australia, is one such individual who isn’t afraid to buck the trend. With dozens of tattoos covering her from her collarbone to her toes, she stands out in her field… but not always in a good way.
In a recent interview with the Daily Mail, Dr. Gray explained that she’s received plenty of criticism and judgement over the years, both inside and outside her workplace.
The most negative treatment she’s had to face has been in shops and restaurants, she says. In one recent incident, she was ignored by several shop assistants while waiting to buy a pair of designer heels on her birthday.
“They all served other customers first and wouldn’t even make eye contact with me,” Dr. Gray explained. “I waited politely for ages and eventually gave up and left. They did themselves out of a sale and I saved myself $1,000, so I guess that’s one bonus!”
On another occasion, she was actually asked to leave a restaurant because of her appearance.
“I was out for lunch in a restaurant with my partner on the Gold Coast when we were seated at a table,” she said. “After being seated for lunch, management then came up to us and asked us to leave as they had a ‘no visible tattoo policy’ for diners. That was a little disappointing to say the least.”
She’s also been denied entrance to a casino, had people grab her without asking, and experienced a number of disparaging looks and comments from passersby in the street.
But the doctor is perfectly happy with how she looks, and does not believe that her tattoos should influence her career or how people perceive her.
“We should all be able to love the skin we’re in, regardless of how we choose to decorate it,” she said.
And, by showcasing her ink on Instagram and other public platforms such as tattoo conventions, she hopes that she will be able to positively change some people’s opinions on body art and modifications.
Thankfully, discrimination laws in Australia prevent Dr. Gray from facing any professional discipline because of how she looks.
“Having colourful skin in no way affects your skill level and with all the anti-discrimination laws now it wouldn’t be appropriate to compartmentalise or treat me differently based on my appearance,” she explained. “I’ve worked really hard to develop good professional relationships as I’m fairly memorable, so I’ve made sure I’m memorable for the right reasons through hard work, determination and an always positive attitude.”
But for everyone remains judgemental of body art, Dr. Gray has some sage words:
“For those that don’t like tattoos, that’s entirely their prerogative, I just urge them to at least consider the artistic skill that goes into creating body art, before they judge someone harshly at face value for choosing to wear them.”
And of course, it just goes to show: you should never judge a book by its cover – no matter how highly-decorated it may be.