What I Wish People Thought About Before Asking About My Tattoo


I got my first tattoo when I was 33 years old. Most of my close friends knew I had been keen on tattooing, except that I did not get down to doing it. The motivation for me to finally get inked came following my mother’s death, and I did it on her birthday – two months after she passed away from suicide. To me, the inking was an act of commemoration and the tattoo, a symbol of our eternal relationship as mother and daughter.

I have a Hamsa, also known as the Hand of Fatima, inked onto my back below the nape of my neck. Below the Hamsa is my mother’s name, symbolizing that God will always be watching over my mother.

Sporting a fresh tattoo often invited questions from curious acquaintances. Common questions included:

“Is that new? Can I scratch it?” (Hell, no!)

“Why did you do that?” (Why not? Is it a crime to tattoo?)

“Was it painful?” (It wasn’t as painful as what my mum was going through.)

“Did something happen?” (Well yes, my mum died.)

“Who is Sophia Rachel?”

As you could possibly tell from my inner thoughts and reactions, I was not pleased by these questions. In fact, the questions were offensive to me. These people probably meant no harm and had no clue about the trigger for my inking, but they should have exercised some sensitivity towards me (and anyone for that matter) before opening their mouth. After all, tattooing is a very personal thing and often represents a hallmark in its owner’s life. Non-tattoo owners often fail to realize that it is insensitive to broach a conversation about a person’s tattoo unless he or she is comfortable enough to share.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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