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Lessons from the Tattooed Lady

I recall the first time I ever saw a tattoo on a woman. It was about thirty years ago, at a combination flea market and auction. The tattoo was a colorful snake draped over her leathery shoulder and back. I remember being stunned by it, feeling as you’d feel if you rounded the corner of a handsome old courthouse and found its back had been scrawled over by thirty feet of painted gangland tags.

I had seen tattoos before that, on men. Most of those fell into two or three categories: the Popeye anchor on the biceps; the name of the man’s best girl, which was sometimes Ma; or some insignia related to the armed services. They were modest, and they marked the man out as belonging to the working class. Most of them were a dull inky blue or green. They weren’t attractive, but the defacement was minimal.

Now, of course, tattoos are everywhere, even on necks and faces, and both men and women wear them. I saw an otherwise attractive girl the other day with a ring in her nose, like a prize sow. One of my students wears a ring in her lip. Guys without muscles who want to look tough spike their eyebrows. We are now even treated to people who get some plastic surgeon to bore holes in their faces, so that you can see their fangs from the side, just as when you raise your dog’s lip to pry a chicken bone from his teeth.

I remember also – it is a long time ago, and the fad hasn’t passed – the first time I saw a man wearing his trousers around his buttocks, so that he seemed like a lusus naturae, four feet of shambling maleness set on itty bitty legs extending barely above the knee. It’s nearly impossible to walk that way without throwing your hips from side to side, like a brave crippled fellow I once knew. He had been stricken with polio when he was a boy. This guy was stricken with something else.

The first thing people say to such reactions, as if I’d never thought of it myself, is that these are fashions, and that every generation thinks that the ways of the young people are decadent. Well, that isn’t true. At most places, at most times, young people have worn the same things their elders wore, danced the same dances, sang the same old songs, and played the same merry games. But some things are decadent.

Dietrich von Hildebrand wrote that one of the privileges of being human was that we could raise up the creation round us to take part in the life of the spirit. We might say that human nature quivers in an unstable equilibrium. We rise to the full stature of Christ, transforming all things in Him, or we reel back into the beast.

snake_lady

We can see it upon the face – the animal leer of the debauched, the hardened scowl of the cynic, the stony blankness of the man of avarice. Look at the face of one of our presidential candidates, and note the terrible engravings of ambition, and the ill-concealed scorn of the very people the candidate must race about to entice, to flatter, and to bribe. Think of what it must be like to have to live behind that face.

The Orthodox priest, scientist, and mystic Pavel Florensky – murdered by the Soviets, of course, during the days when Stalin was all the rage in fashionable salons of the American left – says that there are two irreconcilable things an icon-painter can present to the world: One is a countenance, and the other is a mask.

The countenance in a saint is his unique likeness to God: grace shining through the particularities of his flesh. It is the icon-painter’s humble task to revere that countenance and be taught by it.

The mask, by contrast, is a shadowy thing, as glaring as it may be. It casts a barrier between the observer and the truth, and between the mask-wearer and God. It is a product of man’s arbitrary fantasy, like the demonic and animal shapes into which pagan man casts his natural but tenuous apprehension of God.

We live in an age of phantasmagorical masks, vandalizing the second most beautiful thing in physical existence, the body, and turning into the ego’s billboard the most beautiful thing in physical existence, the thing that the blind Milton longed most to see again – the human face divine. In emphasis, it is as if the abdomen or the crotch or the bosom were what we thought made us most ourselves; as if we were walking and talking groins, with stunted little countenances hidden away below.

Dogs do their doggish things by helpful instinct. We do what we do by disgraceful design.

Catholics of all people should not be surprised. We’ve been fooled into doing plenty of vandalizing of our own. Take a look at the facade – or I should say the sfacciata, the shameless face-showing – of one of our new public buildings, say, a pharmacy or a department store or a doughnut shop. All is garish advertisement, aggressively ugly, with at most a mendacious hint of true and human architectural styles, as fitting as a weather vane on top of a dumpster.

Now take a look at our churches – the bare walls, the commercial jingles in the hymnal, the congregational graffiti obscuring the countenance of Christ. Then take a look at ourselves and the way we behave, our posture, the prayers we say, our dress, our habits of thought in church.

I’m not excepting myself here. We all have much to do, to become human at last, that is, to have countenances and not masks – instaurare omnia in Christo, to establish all things in Christ.

Anthony Esolen

Anthony Esolen

Anthony Esolen is a lecturer, translator, and writer. His latest books are Reflections on the Christian Life: How Our Story Is God’s Story and Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child. He teaches at Providence College.

  • Michael Dowd

    Thanks for your meditation on rejected beauty which really means a rejection of God. We have left a trail of sin and ugliness and desperation. Now we are placing our hope in politics which has only given us more divisiveness and corruption. And if that were not enough we have a Pope who would rather talk about climate change than eternal life and Mercy without repentance. Where is God in all of this? Maybe He wants to make us mortally ill with all the cultural poison we consume so at last we seek Him once again.

    • paolo

      Michael, the Pope is representig Christ. If you have a great concept of Him you will have also of the Pope, alleluia!

      • 3C4

        Alexander VI too?

      • accelerator

        Please.

  • Tracey Kelly

    “Congregational graffiti” Ugh

  • JGradGus

    And, yet again, I’d have to say it all comes back to our parish priests. I’ve been a member of my current parish for over 25 years and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve heard a sermon that so much as touched on propriety, modesty, or the lack of morality in society today.

  • Nancy Lynne

    What revolts me so much about tattoos is their permanence. How can this be fashion, when fashion is constantly changing. Their vibrancy fades. It is a desecration of one’s own flesh. It remains a mystery to me and I pity those who defile themselves in this way.

  • Mack

    Well and bravely said.

  • John Willson

    For many years I asked my freshman students a series of simple questions that would help to locate them in my own mind and heart, the purpose being to be ready with the kind of “spontaneous” examples that might help my arcane historical lessons seem to have meaning. Teaching about 12,500 students over forty years taught me that the most significant development about where young people find advice, authority, moral guidance, etc. is the disconnection between older generations and younger. Today’s 18 somethings look almost exclusively to their peers. Parents, priests, teachers (except those who never matured past 18) may as well have fallen over the side of the flat earth. If trashing the body is a way of separating oneself from Dad, so be it. Great article, Tony, but very scary.

    • Mercyme

      How can we be surprised when children are largely influenced by their own generation only? How many from infancy have been sent to an “academy”, stayed for aftercare – and, when they are big enough to roll well are off to gymnastics or someother activity?

  • grump

    Well said, Tony. Shakespeare put it this way: “God has given you one face, and you make yourself another.”

    The only merit I can see to getting a tattoo is to make sure it’s spelled correctly, it’s discreetly placed and it does not come back to haunt you. I was 17 when I joined the Navy and while on liberty in Chicago from boot camp got a small anchor and “USN” tattooed on my upper right arm. After 56 years it’s still there, faded and fuzzy, but a reminder of some the best years of my life.

  • I think my autism is showing. I still do not understand what the word “countenance” refers to.

    • Monica Jane Harris

      “The countenance in a saint is his unique likeness to God: grace shining through the particularities of his flesh.” So, to the extent that someone can be a saint, the “appearance” through the senses, of someone’s Soul?

  • Mary

    You speak of tattoos and piercings, but it could apply as well to most of the cosmetic surgery performed – implants, botox, face lifts, nose contouring, and on and on. We don’t like who we are inside, so we try to change the outside. I’m reminded of something my college theology professor once said – when you are in the presence of someone holy you know it. A light shines from behind their eyes, they are beautiful. And what they actually look like matters not at all.

  • Mr. Graves

    A young woman of my acquaintance once quipped that when, in her dotage, she lives in a nursing home, the staff will identify her to new hires as “Ms. Jones — the one without any tattoos.” I’m afraid she’s probably right; so many in her generation will be baggy, saggy inkblots.

    • Jill

      Oh, goodness, Mr. Graves, the mental picture you paint is hilarious! I shared it with my friend who works in a nursing home. Perfect!! “Baggy, saggy inkblots…” Truly laughing out loud!

  • Fr Kloster

    “De gustibus non est disputandum” seems to come to mind. Again, I reject that maxim. De gustibus et coloribus dissensio. There is objective beauty.

    One of the best ways of discerning beauty is if it is nearly universally beautiful to everyone. There aren’t to many people who would look at an average 19th century gothic church and call it ugly. There are many would would look at the defacement of the human body as less than artistic and I’ll write it; ugly. It is often very dark and tends to communicates ideas of rebellion, anarchy, and/or self-glorification.

    To me, piercings and tattoos, they are very narcissistic. Then too, as with modern art, the style is not driven by beauty per se as much it is by a desire to impress the like minded.

    • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

      As a fellow priest I must and fully agree with your assessment and isolation of the motivation of the degenerate human behavior of physical self spectacle. Esolen speaks to the aesthetic mutilation of the beautiful body God gave man and woman. When I preached on this to largely Jicarilla Apache teens and older who were defacing their bodies I wondered later if and I hope it did have good effect. The evil stems from the loss of identity as intended by God in the simplicity and beauty of a Christian life and the attempt to assert some deviate idea of identity according to Satan’s immense influence on our youth. I have adult friends former nurses who completely covered their bodies with absurd designs, intelligent gifted persons who reveal a marked spiritual deformity displayed by aesthetic deformity.

  • Henry

    Like the old saying, “if you don’t like my face, _____-it”

  • lwhite

    The defilement of the body is a symbol of the loss of the sense of the sacred and the rejection of the supernatural.

    The human body is no longer considered a temple of God but a biological construct and owned by the individual.

    Not to mention the fact that the human body is also considered to be a commodity. Parts of aborted babies are sold for experimentation; organs extracted prior to one’s actual death for transplantation is common; manufacturing children for the wealthy and “the clock is running out” desperate woman contracepting too long is wholeheartedly accepted by almost everyone; and of course the fear of death because this life is all there is for too many forces these people to “enhance” their body in a way that reflects their desire to look like a celebrity or look any way except for the way in which they really are.
    And we know that the ultimate purpose of the body is pleasure. Food, sex, and drugs.
    The defilement of the human body is also, of course, the defilement of the dignity of the human person which is the ultimate rejection of God.

  • lwhite

    TATTOOS AND BODY PIERCINGS

    Tattooing is regarded in Sacred Scripture as a pagan practice: “You
    shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor shall you make
    in yourselves any figures or marks: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:28/DR).
    It is considered to be a mutilation of the body in contravention of the
    Fifth Commandment. The fact that the tattoo may be of a religious object
    does not justify the practice. Exhibitionism is intrinsically unCatholic as
    falling short of the virtue of humility. Would Our Lord have had a tattoo?
    Our Lady? Of course not.

    Tattooing is also related to the ancient Roman practice of marking
    slaves as the property of their master. This practice survives into the
    modern day in the branding of dumb animals as the property of their masters.

    There is another argument against the practice, which relates to
    the Fifth Commandment of God, which forbids unnecessary harming of one’s
    body, the Temple of the Holy Ghost, as St. Paul calls it. Catholic moral
    theology teaches that by the Principle of Totality, a person is not
    permitted to authorize the mutilation of his own body except for the benefit
    of the whole body by the principle of totality. Mutilation of the body can
    be justified only on the supposition that it is necessary or useful toward
    obtaining some physical benefit (as an amputation of a diseased leg to
    prevent gangrene).

    The practice of tattooing involves unnecessary medical risks. The
    inks contain carcinogens like led and mercury. Tattooing transmits HIV and
    Hepatitis C. These viruses can erupt virulently, or it can lie dormant in
    the body for twenty or more years after the tattooing incident. Hepatitis
    can destroy the liver and thus weaken the body until it dies in agony. So
    dangerous is this practice that tattooed individuals cannot give blood as
    not to transmit the viruses to others. Skin cancers, including the all-too-
    frequently lethal melanomas, have been reported within tattoo sites.

    Some people seem to think that tattooing is morally acceptable when
    the tattoo is of a religious object, such as a cross or Our Lady of
    Guadalupe. Actually, the exact opposite is the case. Such a mutilation of
    the body is even a graver sin because not only is the Fifth Commandment of
    God being violated but also the Second Commandment of God, because such a
    perversion of a sacred image constitutes the grave Sin of Blasphemy. Those
    who walk around with such images on their bodies are declaring to the world
    that they persist in Mortal Sin against God.

    The same principles apply to body piercings. Piercing of the ears
    for women’s earrings might be tolerated, but not recommended.

  • Wow Anthony were you having a bad day when you wrote this piece? I’m 64 and made it through the 60’s and 70’s and what I see today is no different than what shocked my parents in those years. We survived and if we really open our eyes there is still so much beauty in our world. A man I volunteer with at a food bank is covered in tattoos and some of them are less than pretty but he is an amazing human being. He always has time for those who are down and out and can be a little scary looking themselves. His appearance doesn’t hide the love he has in his heart for people and for Christ. We are always searching for God and some of us have a difficult journey at times and we make bad decisions but God will show us mercy and bring us to know Him and His love for us. The stuff you are lamenting Anthony is just dust in the wind, of little importance in our desire to find God.

    • Nancy Lynne

      I disagree with your comments. I would say that your tattooed associate is an amazing human being in spite of his tattoos. The stuff Anthony is lamenting is not just dust in the wind. It’s important to help others to avoid making bad decisions of which covering yourself with tattoos would be.

    • Oscar Pierce

      Agree!…tattoos do not a soul make.

    • Beth

      WHO survived? Show me who survived the 60’s and 70’s with their faith, their marriage, their family, their chastity, their innocence and their children’s innocence intact? I’m not kidding. Show me. Show me someone who was fed the rot of the music, television, movies, art, fashions and survived INTACT to raise their children to goodness, truth, and beauty? Show me families whose children kept their virginity until marriage, who were not exposed to filth of language, pornography, and degrading music.

      Oh yeah, tattoos are great! Woohoo! Let’s have a party…

  • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

    Although your article is poignant there are a couple of things that trouble me and perhaps indicate self assured vindictiveness. You obviously refer to Trump in the “terrible engraving of ambition, and ill conceived scorn of every people” which is a very strong political judgment not actually verified since Trump clearly narrows his words and referred to lax immigration enforcement a real issue and the real problem of Islamic extremists. That view is the mind of Democrats who wish to destroy the sanctity of life and family. Your political views have no relevance to the problem of excessive tattoos. You refer to a female with a ring in her nose as “a sow.” In the Old Testament God speaks of a redeemed Israel as a young woman who is cleansed by Him of her filthy attire, cleansed, anointed with balm, and beautified with jewels, earrings, and a ring in her nose. Your remark sounds like the devil in The Exorcist who calls his female victim a “sow.” I do question your attitude. There are many cultures in which women do use nose rings and in some instances facial and bodily tattoos. Your remarks degrade culturally diverse people.

    • Nancy Lynne

      “Your remarks degrade culturally diverse people.” I do believe Anthony is talking about Americans and tattoos not about women in the Bible or in other countries.
      As far as that comment about one of our presidential candidates, I think that refers to Hilary Clinton, not Mr. Trump.

      • Oscar Pierce

        It would certainly fit Hilary Clinton. I shudder to think of what lies beneath that face.

        • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

          Oscar I too shudder to think how many faces are out there with terrible engravings of ambition and ill concealed scorn!

      • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

        Well Nancy as to which political candidate Esolen refers to your guess may be as good as mine. Insofar as my actual position on tattoos and other bodily disfigurement they’re stated clearly in my reply to Fr Kloster below. The point I make above is Esolen’s sharp insulting tone that by inference extends to all persons here or abroad. Would he or should I call a young woman in our classroom a sow if she wore a nose ring? I don’t believe we change attitudes by demeaning attacks. I minister with female nurses who have nose rings, hooks in their lips, tattoos etc and my approach to them and they know my feelings on the issue is kindness and if asked I will express my view but not at all by insult or ridicule. We simply cannot change attitudes and convert them with self righteous attack. Did Christ or the Apostles ever engage in this form of diatribe?

  • Romulus

    If we’re not being transfigured, we’re being disfigured.

  • Bro_Ed

    A friend who is a senior HR exec with a large firm spoke to a group of college students about to get involved in the job hunting process. One of her advice lines was: “Don’t tattoo or pierce anything that can’t be covered up in a job interview.” It can be a deal killer.

  • Joseph P. Martino

    When I joined the Navy many years ago, and old Chief warned us, if you have to get a tattoo, get one that reads “Mother.” That will never embarrass you.

  • Michael DeLorme

    I’ve never had a tattoo; never will. But I can’t say I find them universally unattractive.
    And for all you NCIS viewers out there: would Abby Sciuto still be “Abs” without her Goth
    neck tat?

    As others on this page have noted, the biggest problem seems to be not anticipating that one’s tastes—or girlfriend/boyfriend—may change. Love lasts forever—till it dies. I can’t bring myself to fear, though, that the tattooed are, for their tattoos, on the way to perdition.

  • Mary Lee

    Thank you Dr. Esolen….I know that whenever I read your writings I will not only be entertained, but bolstered and reenergized for the battle of the day.

  • Tony

    Ladies and gentlemen — I wasn’t referring to any specific political candidate. And I wasn’t having a bad day. When I see the defacement, my first reaction is one of disappointment. I am trying to figure out how you can take something so beautiful and do that to it. What does it suggest about our current spiritual condition?

    • lindenman

      Let me open by thanking you, professor, for your writing, which I’ve really come to appreciate lately. It was your citations that got me reading Josef Pieper.

      You’re right: More than ever before, folks are advertising themselves to an unseemly degree. Tattoos are the corollaries of selfies and vlogs. Competition for visibility and prominence has become so intense that we often seem to be faced with a choice of making ourselves into celebrities or descending into complete social insignificance. Blame it on a culture that attaches no value to humility. If you’re not being seen, you’re a loser.

    • drsane

      So what’s so “beautiful” about the human body beyond what appeals to us mortals physically? You’ve missed the mark. That the human form has nowadays become an object of art and self-glorification, a display of trendy idolatry and exhibitionism is manifestly clear and hence why it is forbidden in the Jewish commandments. It is sinful because it is idolatrous and has little, if anything, to do with defacing the body beautiful.

  • Quo Vadis

    “Then take a look at ourselves and the way we behave, our posture, the prayers we say, our dress, our habits of thought in church.”

    On this line, I have to ask the pastors and priests who run the parishes where are you when it comes to speaking to the people about these issues ? Some, will address the issue but I see people come to mass dressed in the most disrespectful manner. (And I am not speaking about people on their way to work).

    Some say, “well at least they are here”. I don’t accept that as an excuse. I only accept that for the people who cannot afford proper dress. Not for the lazy. Not for those who conduct themselves as if they are at a bingo parlor, chatting away catching up on the latest gossip.

  • Michael DeLorme

    Ever since an anonymous friend, I assume, first signed me up to receive TCT articles some 9 or 10 months ago, Anthony Esolen has been about my favorite writer at this site. But I have to say I just don’t get the preoccupation with tattoos.

    Narcissistic? Self-Advertising? Again, except for their permanence, how are they any more so than t-shirts with a slogan on them? I imagine the kid who is in the front row for his senior yearbook picture and wears a tee depicting whatever the current equivalent of Ozzy Osbourne is, has also pretty much saddled himself with an possible lifetime of mortification. Should I burn my “Reagan in 80” tee?

    Tattoos are a symptom. And if Aquinas is right and countries end up with the leaders they deserve, so is Barack Obama a symptom. The sum total of every single morally good interaction engaged in by every single American citizen every single day for the past 4 years—weighed against every single morally sinful interaction—is what determined, for example, precisely who was on that debate stage last night.

    Symptoms like the President, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, HiIlary Clinton, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are far more disturbing expressions of where we are spiritually as a country than are tattoos. These politicos awaken my bottomless contempt. A bad tattoo—or excessive tattooing—usually awakens my compassion. I sense no moral component to my reaction.

  • Michael DeLorme

    Also, as I recall, Michael Rose’s book on hideous church architecture was called “Ugly AS Sin,” not “Ugly IS Sin;” which suggests that what is “unsightly” is an aesthetic judgment not a moral judgment.

    • 3C4

      Beauty is objective.

  • Tony

    No, just disappointment, and remorse for my own failures in this regard. By the way, I cannot get far past what just about everyone before the twentieth century believed about ambition. They believed it was a deadly vice. “But Brutus says that Caesar was ambitious ….”

    • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

      Probably ambition for sake of self aggrandizement was the understanding whereas anyone one of us who has a good moral compass in Christ not only should but must have incentive and desire to succeed [ambition], that is effort toward a good end as you obviously have gauging that by the comments of respondents regarding your work. Weakness and fault on occasion I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit it. Acknowledging that requires humility and brings us closer to Christ.

  • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

    Diogenes with lantern in hand eternally searching for an honest man likely would have lost all hope and perhaps mercifully relieved by the gods of his fate after arriving at Washington DC. Prof Esolen’s misgivings and vivid facial description of ambitious politicians is understandable reason being altruism is not easily found in DC. Result. Candor calling it as it is is now esteemed regardless of moral conviction. But our presidential election system did produce Lincoln. The Apostle Paul says Christians should not only obey authority including the emperor [Obama?] but should pray for them. It pleases God. Some liturgical petitions do that as does my breviary. Most of us vilify the Kasperites. As onerous as it may be we should include them.

  • Faustina11

    This made me feel really rotten. Thank you! I really mean it, Dr Esolen. I love your book on how to ruin your child’s imagination. It made me feel rotten, too. Sad is probably a better word. Or mournful. May the Lord continue to bless you with wisdom.

  • bernie

    Your comment about Politicians was over the top and sounded like you had someone in mind – but it could have been read either way – one or all. “Look at the face of one of our presidential candidates”. Assuming you mean one, perhaps you were thinking of Hillary or Bernie. Or was it . . . And what did the comment add to your essay? Incidentally, my Grandfather, of Spanish War Navy time, had an anchor on his shoulder that I never saw. He was ashamed of it. Grandmother told me. His brothers and almost all our family went enlisted Navy or Marines – about 15 of us during 4 wars – and none of us had a tattoo. Tattoos are ugly and enhance nothing – except perhaps in darkest Africa or the Jungles of Brazil where they have only the most essential clothing and a tattoo distinguishes a King or Witch-doctor from a “working class” Commoner.

  • Human Being

    Neopagans.

  • smk629

    I feel a bit sad as well when I see a tattoo, which permanently changes the appearance of one, usually for life. I work at a nursing school, and female students outnumber the male students by far. They are all told to be sure that when they are representing the school at their clinical assignments (hospitals, nursing homes, etc.) and are wearing their school scrub uniforms, they must keep their tattoos covered at all times, or they will be sent home. It is considered unprofessional to display the tattoos by both our school and the healthcare facilities. Personally, when I see a nurse with a tattoo, the first thing I think of is hepatitis (my unfortunate prejudice, but there you are!) When one of the young ladies posed for her graduation pictures, wearing her school nursing cap, she chose to wear a sleeveless blouse, and her tattoos were visible. The head nurse/school administrator insisted that her photos be airbrushed.

    • SJ Man

      My wife works in a hospital and this most certainly applies. They actually let someone go who had piercings and tattoos on her arms. I am reviled when I see feminine beauty marred by an ugly tattoo on arms and legs. It’s like a shocking statement of “Look at me!!” The tattoo sleeves are disgusting on men. From a distance they look like blotches of green and look like a skin disease.

  • Ann Smith

    Not sure I would categorize our popular hymns as “jingles.” Doesn’t the church embrace cultural differences among her people? Aren’t we OK if the Chinese sing one way and the Africans sing another way? Most of my peers gain an abundance of spiritual fulfillment when singing “Come Into My Heart, Lord,” and similar prayers. The hymns serve a purpose if they speak to our hearts. While beautiful, not everyone relates to the Gregorian chant. One of our most popular Christian composers lives right here in Westerly, so maybe you could cut us a little slack when it comes to liturgical music. What do you say?

  • ariana

    I am not sure how to address this but why would you look at someone and then think of a prized sow? That right there tells me you’re thinking of someone as lower than you because they’re doing something you don’t agree with. I would surely hope that we as Catholics aren’t going around judging others based on their appearance and if we are we really need to assess our thought process. I also think intent of the tattoos and what they say should be taken into consideration. Tattoos are quite literally scars… and our bodies tell a story whether you have tattoos or scars from a cut or a burn… instead of us sitting here judging someone by their outer appearance we should love them for their hearts. The fact that you sit there and say such harsh words about ones choice to “deface” their body is really disheartening. You don’t deserve to converse with them and you’ll be missing out on their life story and the things they can teach you. I made up my own motto about how I’m going to live my life and maybe you’ll take it to heart or maybe you won’t because I have tattoos and apparently I’m an abomination to God and the Church now but here it is: I try to approach every situation from a place of love and understanding and when I cannot understand, I will love harder and only then can I hope to bridge the gap.