A couple of weeks back on our tattoo etiquette post, there was some super interesting discussion about how some people see tattoos as an excuse to touch others without consent — which of course is never cool.
There was also some interesting discussion on all the attention tattoos can attract, and it reminded me of an ongoing issue I chew over with myself in terms of style and personal expression which is this: if I dress in a way that I know attracts a certain kind of attention, is it fair for me to get impatient when someone is curious about it?
I tend to side with Our Lady Of The Manners (a 40-something corporate-working eldergoth who dresses like this every day) on this issue, feeling that if you’re making a choice to stand out, you need to be gracious and patient with people notice you and have questions.
Not that people get carte blanche permission to touch your arm warmers or harass you for thigh tattoos, but that perhaps I practice a little extra patience when a 8-year-old has a million questions about my rainbow platforms.
Ultimately, as Gothic Charm School has said again and again: if you dress in a way that attracts attention, you need to accept that you’re acting as an ambassador of weirdness, and as an ambassador, it’s worth taking a deep breath and doing your extra best to be patient when people are curious.
Is it petulant to opt into looking weird, and then get crabby when people notice that you look, well, weird?
I flip flop though around the other side of this: is this a form of weirdo victim-blaming? You dress non-normative, therefore shut up and you don’t get to complain about it when people take up your time to ask ignorant questions? (And this is all completely separate from people whose non-normativeness isn’t really a fashion choice, like, say, folks who are non-gender-binary.)
I guess for me, I personally lean towards always taking perhaps over-responsibility for my actions, so if I know action X (say, dying my eyebrows pink) is going to lead to behavior Y (say, people asking me questions about them), I might make decision Z (don’t do it, because I don’t have the patience to deal with the questions).
For me, I’ve learned that I can only control my own behavior, so I make my decisions accordingly.
I’m curious about how you guys navigate this friction — when is it your choice to attract attention and deal with the resulting questions vs. when does society need to stop being so dang rude?