I want to point out that I have no problem with tattoos, in the vintage community or otherwise; I think that they can be a beautiful way for people to express themselves and their individuality and creativity. It's just not something that I am interested in having for myself. I've read some posts from bloggers in which they have been made to feel "less vintage" because they did have tattoos, which I think is sad; the vintage community is extremely varied, and that's what makes it great! Correct me if I am wrong, but I don't think that complete authenticity is every vintage lover's goal, and I don't think that it needs to be. As we know, people certainly did have tattoos in the '30s and before (just for fun, there are some pictures below), but the average housewife, which is the image with which I most closely associate myself, most likely did not; if she did have one, she certainly wouldn't have been talking about (or showing!) it in public! :)
I get all sorts of questions, but this was a new situation for me; because of the way that I was dressed, the receptionist seemed genuinely surprised to hear that I did not have any tattoos. She also told me that she had attended a "1920s style party" where everyone had "Bettie Page waves", so her knowledge of vintage was obviously pretty limited. I try hard not to be a vintage snob, because I learn something new every day, but my annoyance wasn't about her lack of knowledge; it was about her lack of courtesy, or maybe tact. I told myself that she must know a person who wears vintage and has tattoos, and so that is the image of vintage with which she is familiar. Even considering this, I think that her asking to see them was impolite. It's like the question that I sometimes get: "Why are you dressed like that?" Even if it is asked in a friendly manner, which is usually is, I just think that there are much more polite ways to ask.
I realize that when you dress or act outside of the norm, you must be prepared for some stares, questions, outright gawking, etc., all of which I am quite accustomed to and normally view with slight amusement. However, I think that certain questions, such as ones pertaining to undergarments, possible hidden tattoos, etc, are simply not polite questions for a stranger to be asking anyone. Now, if I had a visible tattoo, I would probably have been happy to show it to her. In the same vein, I get slightly annoyed when someone asks me if my hair is a wig, which happens on a semi-regular basis, and when someone takes my picture without asking me. I think that most of the people who have approached me in this manner would never have said the same things to the "average" person on the street.
As much as we try to avoid it, we all infer things about people based on the way they are dressed. I know that I am guilty of it. I'm not sure what I expect people to infer about me...actually, I can think of a few adjectives that I would love to have attributed to me: creative, ladylike, old-fashioned, elegant, etc. :) I'm just not sure that there is anything about my look that screams "Ask me about my tattoos!!"
I hope that no one is offended by this post; its purpose is definitely not to criticize tattoos or anything else; I'd certainly be the last person to attempt to make anyone conform to any certain standard of dress! I'd like to hear your opinions; do you think that dressing outside of the norm invites people to behave towards you in a way that they would not behave towards others? What sorts of questions do you get, and do you think that people sometimes feel that they can cross certain lines with you because of the way you are dressed?
Sorry for the long post; I just had to vent a little, and I wanted to hear some other opinions. I have another outfit post coming up in a few days!