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November 19th, 2007
The first time I received an email from a woman who expressed concern about her tattoos while visiting Costa Rica, I was about 40% sure I was being shined on a bit. I replied of course as that is not covered in either the REAL Costa Rica web site nor this blog. Later, she sent me photos, and she was for real.
Since then, I have received two more emails asking the same question, the most recent today. As I am one of those people who think for every person who will ask such a question, there are probably ten others who have not the courage to write.
So here is her letter and my reply for all those tattooed ladies coming to visit Costa Rica!
I have an odd question, I searched the entire site beforehand so as not to be a bother.. and wasn’t able to find any info on this topic (although this is probably the first time you’ve been asked about this, I’m sure). I am a 23 year old female student, and my concern is that my appearance may not be well received in some other countries, because I am quite heavily tattooed (arms and chest). I have never traveled overseas before, so I really don’t know what to expect. Also I’m sure it is a different outcome depending on which country you are traveling to. Anyways, your thoughts on those from Costa Rica’s attitudes/reactions towards this would be much appreciated. I’m a little nervous, but so excited to meet people and learn a new culture!
As I am not Costa Rican, I cannot give an opinion from their viewpoint, but I will generally speak in terms of North American women in general and what I have been told by a few Ticos male and female.
First, I think they will not care much, though of course you will be an oddity and be looked at with double-takes as I am pretty sure you are looked at now in Canada. Women with significant body tattooing are still not in the mainstream! I like tattoos, but I STILL look twice when a woman has more than just her “tramp stamp” on her lower back or a rose on her ankle or breast. A heavily tattooed women is going to catch attention!
Women here take their physical appearance FAR more seriously than NA women. Hands and feet are manicured (usually French), they dress to perfection, and even a trip to the mall gets the works. Of course in the country you do not see that as much. In any case, you almost never see a Tica walking around in sweats and tennis shoes if she is not actually exercising.
So saying this, most Costa Ricans sort of feel that NA woman really have no idea in the first place how to dress and appear in public (this more from the Ticas BTW). Thus my original comment that they probably won’t care very much. Clearly this also depends on where you are visiting… in the country. city, beach, or country.
I can just about promise this; No matter where you are, Ticos are FAR too polite to EVER say anything to make you feel bad or self conscious. That is simply not in their culture and they generally treat ALL people very well.
You MAY get a whistle or a comment, but THAT is the macho thing and is common, tattooed or not. All women get that!
If you wish to get tattooed here, there are many tattoo parlors. I do know they are regulated, but I do not know if they follow those regulations, so use common sense. Tough way to catch something serious!
Any Ticos reading this are welcome to comment below! Actually, anyone can comment!
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