A tiny tiny old lady stopped me at the art gallery, to tell me that seeing me so tattooed, wandering among the paintings, made her feel I was like “walking art”. Then she profusely apologized for “bothering me” and “being rude” while saying again and again how beautiful she thought I was. I explained her that indeed, I’m often commented in insensitive, objectifying and rude ways, whereas hers was actually the sweetest encounter of the sort I’ve ever had ! She made my day. Then she shied away without further ado from my blushing thanks.
Of course it echoed the last time some white untattooed Parisian dudes tried to “compliment” Tarmasz and me in the bus… Those ones who stated “but I work at the museum, I love art, so I can’t help commenting when I see beautiful THINGS around”, and who did not understand that it infuriated me so much to be called “a thing”, especially after undergoing his annoying, unwanted stream of stupid questions and sexist comments for 15minutes.
If you really want to compliment someone, remember always that they are not beautiful THINGS, but people. Don’t expect anything, know that you might bother the complimented, check their body language and respect it, be nice and walk away.
In case of tattooed people, keep in mind you might be the 154th “nice” person asking the exact same ignorant-but-well-intentioned questions. Not everyone is an extravert, not everyone is patient.