A woman named Dalina recently had a tattoo experience so horrible that she left in the middle of the process — and immediately had a panic attack in her car.
Dalina shared the story on TikTok, where it has over 15 million views. "I need to know if I'm being dramatic or not. I just left in the middle of getting my tattoo. Like, in the middle of my appointment, I got up and I paid him and I left. I met this guy at the gym and he approached me specifically because of my tattoos. He was like, 'Oh, I do tattoos' and he gave me his card and we exchanged information and I looked him up and I liked his work and I had a tattoo that I wanted to get all over my stomach," she explains in the video.
"So, naturally, I come to the thing (tattoo shop) and he has me take off my shirt. I have my pasties on, so I'm literally there without a shirt and literally just my nipples are covered. And he just starts talking about how unsymmetrical I was. He starts calling my boobs 'tits.' But, the last straw: I turn around, and he goes, 'Ah, I get why I see you in the gym all the time. You got back rolls.' Am I crazy?"
Both men and women immediately flooded the comments to reassure Dalina that she was NOT in the wrong for leaving.
And women also started sharing that reasons like this are exactly WHY they refuse to go to tattoo artists who are men.
BuzzFeed spoke to Dalina, who said the tattoo artist ironically first approached her during back day at the gym. "I just moved to California from North Carolina and was looking for stability and a new schedule, so I started a new gym right away. He complimented my tattoos and chatted with me about my ink and how he was a tattoo artist and gave me his card. I thought he was being kind. He seemed genuine. Every time afterward he would wave at me or approach me saying things like 'putting that work in I see' or even fist bumping me with a 'good job' in the middle of my workouts."
Since she had several interactions with this man at the gym before, Dalina thought she would feel comfortable getting a tattoo from him. And on the day of her tattoo, Dalina felt optimistic and excited. "Tattoos make me feel more like myself. The more work I get done, the happier I am. And since I’m new to the area, I found myself thinking I was gonna have a new, regular artist. I even bragged to my husband and was ready to schedule him an appointment afterward," she said.
Because Dalina was getting her stomach and sternum done, she knew she might need to remove her shirt, so she wore pasties on her nipples. "He started putting together the stencil and told me, 'Just take off your shirt.' Once my shirt was off, things got weird quickly. I stood there for about 20–30 minutes shirtless before he even got started placing the stencil on my skin. He started referring to my boobs as tits, mentioning plastic surgeons that he knew people went to."
"I was honestly in shock hearing the comments. He could tell my mood changed almost immediately because he asked and when I said, 'To be honest with you, what you’ve said was extremely offensive,' he looked at me like I was crazy. Like, he was shocked I even said something at all. He brushed me off and told me not to take life too seriously."
Dalina tried to leave by saying she was over it. "He didn’t tell me I had to stay and get tattooed, but he became visibly annoyed. I told myself to suck it up and get it over with. I didn’t want to start any trouble. But when he started my outline, he was being so rough when wiping away excessive ink. I felt like he was intentionally trying to make me feel smaller. That’s when it clicked that I had to go."
So, she pretended like her husband needed her because of an emergency. "I felt like I had to pay him because I realized that I was in a room alone with just this bigger man who was rude and had no problem disrespecting me — who's to say he wouldn’t have become physical if I refused to pay? Men are notorious for hurting women for less. I paid him $200 in total and just ran out after. At the time, it felt like a small fee for my safety," Dalina said.
Luckily, through the power of TikTok, Dalina was able to find a female tattoo artist who offered to finish her tattoo for free.
Dalina hopes other women who find themselves in similar situations know they can get up and leave. "Nobody has the right to disrespect you. You don’t need to excuse people's bad behavior, but most importantly, trust your gut and be aware of your surroundings. I was nervous about posting my experience because I felt almost dramatic, like I was in the wrong for leaving. Then I realized I wasn’t."
"I was scared to post his name because he’s in my local area, but after individuals online asked me to identify him to know who to stay away from, I realized how many times he’s done this to other women. Sometimes, it just takes one of us to hold someone accountable. I wasn’t offended that he was making negative remarks about my body, I was upset he felt he had the right to. I’m happy I left and I’m happy the internet came together in a positive manner," she said.