A heavily-tattooed mother-of-three claims she is glared at in public and subjected to ‘rude’ customer service because of her colourful ink.
Sarah Keirs, 32, has always understood her body art ‘may not be everyone’s thing’ and might evoke some unwanted stares.
But the mental health worker, from Newcastle, has been left shocked after members of the public have gone out of their way to give the cold-shoulder – flashing icy scowls, grunting, and ignoring her.
The worst incidents came last month when she endured back-to-back sour treatment from a petrol station attendant and an employee in a shopping centre.
After filling up her car, Ms Keirs went inside to pay and noticed the female cashier was smiling and chatting to everyone else in the queue.
But as she reached the front, the woman’s demeanour changed.
‘Scrunched up face, looking me up and down from my head to toes, her eyes were burning through me,’ Ms Keirs told Daily Mail Australia.
‘She said thank you and goodbye to everyone else, but to me there was no talking – she was as cold as a dead fish.’
Ms Keirs, who has spent more than 100 hours under the needle over the past decade engraving her thighs to the top of her back, said her tattoos are normally covered but that day she was wearing shorts.
After returning to her car, she said the woman continued to eyeball her through the glass window as she drove away.
The next day, during a trip to a retail store, she suffered similar treatment when a woman manning the self-service registers scanned her entire body then grunted.
Ms Keirs said both women were roughly aged in their 50s and the judgemental looks she receives tend to come from older generations.
While she appreciates their perspective may be skewed because tattoos used to be related to gangs and criminals, she said there was no reason to be impolite.
‘The older generation are first to complain about younger people being rude, but they can be so hypocritical,’ she said.
‘I completely get from their perspective that tattoos used to be linked to crime, but things have changed and tattoos are apart of today.’ ‘
‘A person gets them because they want them, not because of other people. I have done this for me. I am not treating you rudely. You don’t have to sit there and tell me they are nice, but you don’t have to go out of your way to be nasty.’
The tainted experiences have put Ms Keirs off visiting both businesses and, with thousands of people choosing to get ink, she believes other enterprises are at risk of losing customers if they feel discriminated against by workers.
Since getting her first tattoo as a teenager, she has always had copped opinions and shrugged it off, but she said it was ‘unprofessional’ to exert them during customer service.
Despite clearly having tattoo-dedicated social media accounts, Ms Keirs said she is also occasionally targeted by trolls who leave unwarranted comments like: ‘you have ruined your body’ and ‘what have you done’.
Although she has never felt judged at home or at work, where she covers up to keep professional, Ms Keirs said the public reactions feels like she is being judged over her capacity as a parent.
She is now worried her three daughters Allira, 14, Aurora, seven, and Ezrah, five, relationships with friends and future partners will be impacted if their parents form a negative opinion of her personal decision.
‘When I am with my kids and get stares, it’s like people think what are we raising my kids to be?’ she said.
‘But having a tattoo, does not affect your parenting whatsoever. The way you raise your kids has nothing to do with what’s on your skin. What’s important are your values, your morals.’
‘If people want to be judgement about parents with tattoos, one thing I will not raise my kids to be is rude or judgemental.’
Ms Keirs said there needs to be greater awareness that stereotypes about those with tattoos are not always correct, and people with ink come from all walks of life.
‘We are just normal people,’ she said.
‘Our bodies are a temple. We have just painted the walls.’
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