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Biracial Woman Called Out By Her White Brother For Preferring Tattoo Artists Who Specialize In Darker Skin

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Tattoos are a major commitment. As well as being expensive, they’re also virtually permanent.

While removal or cover-ups are options, those aren’t inexpensive either. So before adding art to your body, people are encouraged to do some research.

But what if you do your due diligence and still end up disappointed?

A 20-year-old woman who was burned twice before came up with what she thought was a perfect solution for her 3rd tattoo. But after pushback from her half-brother she turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.

Redditor jiggycloud asked:

“AITA for preferring a tattoo artist that specializes in darker skin?”

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“I (20, female) am getting my third tattoo and I haven’t had the best luck with the previous two.”

“I’m a Black woman in Kansas and did my research like everyone told me to and found the top artists in my area who had at least one POC in their portfolio to do them, but they still came out crappy.”

“Thankfully they’re more on the hidden side.”

“I’m traveling to Atlanta soon to visit family and recently told my half-brother who lives up there I was excited to visit because there are more tattoo artists up there who specialize or work more with darker skin and I’d prefer them to do my tattoo.”

“My brother told me I was being outrageous for saying something like that because ‘tattoo artists do all sorts of skin tones and you’re discrediting them’.”

“Might I add my brother has two White parents while I just have one, we share one parent so obviously we don’t share the same skin color.”

“Is it really wrong to prefer someone who knows how to tattoo my skin tone?”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors decided OP was not the a**hole.

“NTA. First of all there definitely is a difference in tattooing different skin tones so your brother doesn’t know what he is talking about.”

“Second of all you are the one getting the tattoo so you should see a tattoo artist that you are comfortable with.” ~ Trashmanjoe

“As a White person myself, it’s crazy how oblivious many White people are to all of the various ways that our society just treats White as the default and makes things more difficult or complicated for POC.”

“And I’m just assuming that there’s a ton of it that I’m still not noticing because I’m oblivious myself, it doesn’t happen much in front of me, etc…” ~ jmurphy42

“It’s literally the first thing most professional tattoo artists tell you. Research the artist before getting a tattoo.”

“Make sure their art style matches what you want, that they have a good reputation, etc…” ~ foxscribbles

“I love when people mistakenly label things as reverse racism or something.”

“Brother: ‘No that’s outrageous! You shouldn’t have a preference of which artist marks your body permanently with ink’.” ~ Theshutupguy

“NTA. Skin tone affects how ink shows on the skin. Not every tattoo artist has experience with darker skin tones.” ~ dr-sparkle

“And it isn’t even discrimination. OP is talking about a skill set not the skin color of the tattoo artist.”

“A skilled White tattoo artist could ink darker skin just as effectively as a Black artist assuming they have the skills.” ~ Shadyside77

“It’s true. My husband is Black and only gets tattoos from artists (of different races) who specialize in tattooing darker skin.”

“He specifically looks for portfolios that show dark skin.” ~ itsokyouguys2

“Yeah, when you sell your art it should be your best work not something you’re not very experienced in  but there’s a fair amount of tattoo artists who don’t think that way unfortunately!” ~ piku-piku

“It’s something that is on you for life, at the very least you should be finding someone that can give you EXACTLY the effect you want.”

“It’s a shame more tattoo artists don’t know how to tattoo darker skin, deffo something that should be considered when going through the apprentice stages of becoming an artist.”

“I really don’t know why it isn’t considered.” ~ ooiprocs

“It’d be like saying that it’s racist to go to a hair salon that specialises in Black hair.” ~ aFrenchyinEire

“I have absolutely not one shred of doubt that you can find White people saying exactly this.” ~ Arya_Flint

“Let’s put it in a different context. I’m a natural redhead who is approaching 40.”

“I LOVE my natural hair color and would like to keep it exactly as it is for as long as possible. My genetics are starting to give up on me and grey is creeping in.”

“Now auburn is a witch to match. Add in the ability to do curly girl haircuts and I got a few butcher haircuts and a few terrible color jobs (I’ve been maroon, clown red, and purple all unintentionally) and it was a search to find the right hairstylist.”

“Does that mean that those other hairstylists had an anti-redhead bias? No.”

“It means that my particular color of auburn plus 3b curls were just not in their wheelhouse.”

“And that’s ok. You can’t specialize in everything.”

“This is your body. And, unlike a bad cut or color, a tattoo is permanent.”

“Find an artist who specializes in darker skin tones and the style of tattoo that you want, work with them, and wear your new art proudly!” ~ MorpheusesMuse

“NTA at all. I am a White person researching artists for my first tattoo, and I was genuinely struck by how few examples there are of tattoos on Black skin.”

“It’s going to be on you forever, you want to be able to trust you have someone who knows what they’re doing.” ~ VioletFoxx

“NTA. Piggybacking onto this comment to say that this is a legitimate situation.”

“I watched a video on it a couple of years ago and some people just don’t have the skills or don’t work on darker/non-White skin tones.”

“Letting people mess up your body because they don’t have the skills is even worse than going to a salon that doesn’t specialize in dealing with your hair type.” ~ Hovercraft-Wise

To me, it’s not any different than me (a mixed curly girl) picking a hair stylist that specializes in textured hair. Yeah, all stylists study ‘hair’, but most are trained on ‘White’ hair (in quotes because White girls can have textured hair) and those skills don’t necessarily translate.”

“If you want something permanent/semi-permanent done right, go to someone who specializes in what you want done. That’s just being smart with how you’re spending your money and time for the results.”

“Last week a White mom friend asked me for help with finding a stylist for her White daughter with curly hair. I sent her to my curly stylist.”

“She did an amazing job, and we have vastly different curl patterns.”

“It’s not racist to recognize that people have different skin, hair, whatever and that they require different skill sets to be dealt with correctly.”

“You want good work done, you go to someone who specializes in the work you want done. Period.” ~ Jade_Echo

When it comes to body art, there’s no such thing as being too cautious.

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Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metis Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. She considers herself another proud Maineiac.
Member of NAJA.