Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bumper Sticker or Custom Paint Job: An Open Letter to Lisa Khoury from Nova

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First of all, thank you Caitlin for allowing me to post my rant on your blog. People like the young woman I'm about to talk about cause my blood to boil. And it really does take a lot to get under ol' Nova Rella's skin like this.

Lisa Khoury wrote a purposefully inflammatory article in her university newspaper's opinion section about the lack of sophistication and morality tattooed young women have. She's getting quite a bit of undue attention, and so both Caitlin and I felt the need to put our two cents out there in the internet world with our own views on the issues she brings up.

I see that since I first read the article, they've posted a 'counterpoint' article, written by a young lady with two tattoos. She's cute and she means well, but she hasn't quite hit the nail on the head with the problems in the original piece.

Before you read my response, please click HERE and read her article "Why Put a Bumper Sticker on a Ferrari" in its entirety or you won't have any idea what I'm talking about. Yeah, you can tell by her title it's a real page-turner. Anyway, here is my response:

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Dear Lisa,

Congratulations on becoming internet famous in a matter of days! It must feel amazing to denigrate an entire population of people different than you for your own benefit. You've already received so much undue attention for this article that I almost hesitate in writing this response, but I realize that there are people out there who will take anything printed in any newspaper as the truth, and I am not having that.

The opinions you've put out there for the whole world to read are the same mindless banal remarks I hear all the time. You've memorized them by rote. You sound like you're reading off a script. How will a tattooed woman ever catch a husband? Why would they do that to themselves? They used to look so pretty. How will they ever get a job? Are they a slut or a rebel? They must be dumb. Guess what Lisa, we've heard it all before.

What you've written is not new or compelling. You've basically just said the exact stereotypical crap that I, as a fairly heavily tattooed woman, have to deal with from lowbrow classless assholes on a day-to-day basis. In your article I hear echoes of the uneducated, the judgemental, and the closed-minded. What I don't hear is a single original idea.

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Tattoos are not new, rebellious or "vandalism" of the body. Period. They are an expression of one's inner self and of one's societal status, and have always been. I'm sure you didn't bother to do any research on the historical front, so let me tell you for a fact that human beings have always tattooed themselves all over the world for many different reasons, mainly spiritual and societal, and they always will. It's part of our very being, as humans are by nature categorists and compartmentalists.

The fact that you refer to your body as 'a temple' and being 'blessed' gives me an insight as to where your opinions may be stemming from. Not to get too religiously controversial on somebody else's blog, but the oppression of this innately human desire to decorate and change one's body probably, at least partially, comes from our weird colonized pseudo-christian culture. Fortunately this mentality is gradually fading away and becoming outdated in many facets of our society. Unfortunately people like you are still living with your head in the 19th century clouds and refuse to acknowledge the winds of change.

And since we are on the topic of outdated ideals, Lisa, I have to ask why you don't tear into men who have tattoos with all the voracity you used against women. Don't they deserve the same public scrutiny? Shouldn't they be running to the mall and getting their hair done too? There's a definite sexist undercurrent running through this article and I can't understand how a modern day aspiring journalist such as yourself is even suggesting that we subscribe to such a thing. It is unfair and nonsensical to drag tattooed people through the mud to prove your antiquated moral code.

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I see that you mention 'class' and 'elegance' repeatedly in your article. How do you define class and elegance, Lisa? By slagging other people's physical appearance? By working out a lot and having "a nice body"? Shopping a lot at the mall? You think these things give you more 'class' than someone like me? I wouldn't give a person as superficial and judgemental as you the time of day.

By the way, what is with all this yoga and working out and shopping nonsense? Keep your capitalist misogynistic worldviews to yourself please. I am not and have never been interested in wearing heels, they destroy your feet. Long painted nails are impractical. I hate going to the mall. I'm not overly concerned with making "guys drool" over me or holding 'serious power' over other people because of my beauty. I value my brain and my creativity miles above others' opinions of my sex appeal. I feel like those who seek others' approval, and modify their habits and physical appearance to please others are missing something essential: self esteem.

You blatantly proclaim that "Nothing comes out of getting a tattoo." How can you say that? To imply that getting tattoos has no meaning, when clearly you have none yourself and thus have no evidence to the contrary, is straight-up ridiculous. Just because you don't understand something doesn't make it invalid. Do you also consider yourself above people of other cultures? People who chose a different profession than you did? How do you feel about other religions? Do you not consider that there are people of every kind on this earth and there is room for all of us?

You say "Instead of getting a tattoo, a more productive use of your time would be improving and appreciating the body you have been given," to which I reply "Why does the body need to be improved?" or conversely, "What makes you think tattooing a body isn't improving it?" I am seeing several references to going to the gym, working out, getting a 'hot body'... why do you consider that to be the polar opposite of getting tattoos? I can't wrap my brain around your logic.

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On a personal note, I am extremely offended that you took so much time out of your life to write such an insulting article about something you know nothing about. There is nothing about my own tattoos that says "I am trying to prove something to other people." I do not relish being judged by my appearance at all. I never have. I get tattoos because being a tattooed woman is who I am. I've always known it, as cheesy as that may sound. It is me, and I can not change that. I love it and tattoos are a large part of my life. Hairstyles? Not so much.

And how dare you bring children's morals into this article? Who the hell are you to even imply that a tattooed parent or grandparent isn't as good as one without any tattoos? This drivel is absolutely offensive for so many reasons. I fear for your children's morality a thousand times more than my own. "God knows" that you have no fucking idea what you are talking about. I'd love to know what makes you, a student in her early 20's, think you have the right to morally judge people in their major life decisions at all. What do you know about life?

So, Lisa, in conclusion, It's none of your business how intelligent, happy, educated, classy, attractive or well-off I am, but I'm going to let you in on a secret, Lisa. I'm probably more of all these things than you are. And I know for a fact I'm a better writer.

The world you are living in is a shallow superficial nightmare, and I genuinely feel sorry for you and hope you grow out of this stage quickly. I promise you, you will be ashamed of this article when you grow up because it shows a real lack of empathy, kindness, positivity and the depth of spirit a human being needs to have genuine relationships and a happy existence.

Hope we never hear from you again,

Nova.

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You can click here to see Caitlin's response to Lisa's article on my blog.

I'd like to encourage more of you tattooed ladies to post your own response on your own blogs as well and leave us a link here in the comments section. You can also email it to Lisa herself: 

lisa.khoury@ubspectrum.com

26 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Ugh my whole comment is gone... and it was a long one.
      Basically, Caitlin, I was just saying that I actually have read a lot of these letters today and a lot of them call the writer of that article a bitch, a dumbass, an ignorant piece of shit, etc... and since her view is that tattooed people are classless jerks, they're completely proving her point.
      What I said before is that your letter is by far my favorite today because you've not only shared your feelings on the matter, you've explained yourself in an intelligent way without putting her down and reinforcing her negative feelings for tattooed people.
      Great job ladies. I'm sure you'll have a lot more people writing letters of their own today!

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  2. Nicely put. I only have one tattoo and I want to get another one. People who think that women who get tattoos are classless do not know the first thing about getting or having tattoos.

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  3. it actually makes me sad more than anything else, because i know so many people in my personal life who would write an article like lisa....my own mother included. i hate how people can be so narrow-minded and ignorant.

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    1. It is really sad for a lot of reasons. By posting something so poorly planned and researched in such a public forum, she's basically screwed her future self's career path! It's a really tough lesson to learn, and I do feel bad for her about that.

      I don't believe she meant to personally insult everyone she did, but this kind of thing can't just sit out there unopposed. It is sad that an ignorant 19 year old had access to the broad audience she did. Like I said, she's really going to regret this article when she grows up.

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  4. I posted the following response on the articles page: This bitch is crazy. My body's a temple. I'm naturally beautiful...blah blah blah. So this woman assumes our only point in life as a woman is to be "classy" and have children with the men we lure with our already amazing bodies. How old is she 12? Seriously. Having tattoo's doesn't make me not classy. Swearing and hanging out in places of ill repute is why I lack class. My tattoo's have absolutely nothing to do with it. Oh yeah...and if I should happen to come across this lady...I'm pretty certain class or my tattoo's will have nothing to do with how I would treat her but her stuck up attitude and ignorance will more than likely have everything to do with it!

    Ha ha, I'm too busy working full time, starting a new business, and finishing my Master's of Science in Management with a focus on Entrepreneurship to actually hang out in places of ill repute. But...I do enjoy them. :) I love both Nova's and Caitlin's responses. Soooo good! Hearts, Janna Lynn

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  5. I read both of your responses are the original article and it just got my blood boiling!

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  6. Amazing! Love it!

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  7. So, I freaking love this response. I'm pretty sure my blood literally boiled after reading her unbelievable article. I am a Christian who is tattooed in very obvious places. I love myself, I love my God, and there is nothing wrong with that. I use my tattoos as reminders on how to live my life, with meaning, resoluteness, and bravery. And that's my choice, not anyone else's :) Thank you for taking the time to form such a well thought out response, and thank you to Caitlyn for posting it. You're both wonderful bitchin' ladies!

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    1. Yeah I'm glad to hear from a Christian here. I absolutely hate it when people hide behind bible words and "God knows" to justify their own opinions on morality. I believe a person with true Christian beliefs wouldn't take so much time out of their day to write such a spiteful or judgmental piece as this. I'm glad I didn't come off as anti-religion.

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  8. Great responses Nova and Catlin, I come from a family who are heavily tattooed, my father was tattooed, my grandfather was and many generations before that so her article hit a personal accord. I agree, the counterpoint article doesn't really touch on the issue.

    I also wrote a response
    http://fautedemieux.com/2012/02/03/an-open-letter-to-lisa-khoury/

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  9. Thank you for a thoughtful, honest response to what is simply an absurd article.

    I was not impressed with Lisa's follow up article or her editor's response. His "stop victimizing yourselves you tattooed freaks! Show my writers some respect!" message also missed the point. There is so much anti-tattoo material out there already, Miss Khoury's was just particularly offensive because of her misogynistic, materialistic approach to the issue. The ignorance displayed by the Spectrum saddens me.

    Oh, and I wrote an open letter too! http://laurabeastly.blogspot.com/2012/02/open-letter-to-lisa-khoury.html

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  10. This might be unpopular, and I'm not defending the girl or what she wrote, as a tattooed lady myself.. But what I do not get is all the drama surrounding this. A nineteen year old said something ignorant about woman and tattoos, shocker.. If we have nothing to prove as tattooed folks, then why even let it phase you? Most of the folks responding to this girl just proved that they are jerks and have no one else to pick on but a nineteen year old whose frontal lobe isn't fully functional yet. That's science, not an insult. I mean, because she expressed an unpopular opinion she is now the most horrible aspiring journalist on the planet? She lacks tact, but really, don't you expect that from a teenager? I understand she said some really off base things, but maybe instead of addressing her in a condescending way (which I am sorry blog friends, most of you have rather harsh tones in your open letters) you should address this girl, who clearly needs some journalistic guidance, from a place of kindness instead of outrage..

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    1. Too true, I was being harsh because I was angry, and do agree that some of the things I, and other people said could have been a bit much. And some of the people out there really silly and immature, threatining bodily harm! That's ridiculous.

      The issue is not that she said something about women and tattoos. I think the general outrage really stems from the fact that she was writing in the second person, telling people what they should do, and speaking with a voice of authority from a position of "journalist". This moved it from "more drivel on the internet" to "who does this person think she is?" Even though this was in the opinion section of the website it did not read like one person's opinion, it read as a super judgmental criticism of people she has obviously never met.

      I replied later on another forum "I sincerely hope that Ms. Khoury has learned to consider the potential audience of an online column. I hope she has learned that words can be hurtful or spark controversy, especially if they are not well thought out and researched. Most importantly I hope she realizes that there is a difference between an opinion piece and an advice column.

      I assure you that none of us in the tattoo community are interested in her "little secret". Usually I don't even bother reading negative opinion pieces, but I really felt that Ms. Khoury hadn't considered how much authority her voice can carry, even on a small-ish school website, and it was unfair to the women without what she considers class to present that "information" the way she did."

      I do feel bad for this young lady because she is going to have a heck of a time being taken seriously in journalistic fields. Too bad her response to all the internet hate was poorly written and poorly thought out as well.

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    2. We make our own beds. You're right though, I guess it is "advice-y," which makes it automatically infuriating..I was just really turned off by the personal attacks folks were spitting at her, and then condescending letters. After I read her article,I was of course baffled/annoyed but I just kept thinking two things 1. If I let every asinine thing i've heard/read a kid say infuriate me, I'd be in mental facility and 2. Good for her, this is a life lesson she won't soon forget.. It's sink or swim at this point for her.. She can rise above and really do something with her career, or realize she is better off teaching Home Ec in some back country school in the Carolinas or something. :)

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    3. No offense to Carolina folk of course, Florida isn't much better.. I live in the same county as Casey Anthony!

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  11. I really do hope she learns from this.

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    1. I'm sure she has learned more about herself this week than she ever has, mistakes are a good thing sometimes ;)

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  12. Thank you so much for not only writing this, but sharing it here. There is no need to express my thoughts on this Lisa (by the way, she is ruining my name!), because you have done that and beyond.

    My Dad often comments on how my body is my temple...which I always remark "mine is just decorated"

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