University of Buffalo Student Newspaper Anti-Tattoo Column Goes Viral, Prompts Hateful Feedback (#tattoos)

Over the past week and a half, a column in The Spectrum student newspaper at the University of Buffalo criticizing women who get tattoos has gone massively viral.  Along with a rash of well-reasoned, impassioned retorts, the piece has prompted endless hate-filled rants and personal attacks aimed at its student writer.

The column by UB sophomore and Spectrum assistant news editor Lisa Khoury argues that women are beautiful without permanent body markings.  She compares a tattoo on a woman to a “bumper sticker on a Ferrari” and degrades the practice among females as unproductive, lacking deeper meaning, and a sadly superficial way to score male attention.

As she argues, “An elegant woman does not vandalize the temple she has been blessed with as her body. She appreciates it. She flaunts it. She’s not happy with it? She goes to the gym. She dresses it up in lavish, fun, trendy clothes, enjoying trips to the mall with her girlfriends. She accentuates her legs with high heels. She gets her nails done. She enjoys the finer things in life, all with the body she was blessed with.  But marking it up with ink? That’s just not necessary.”

In response, readers worldwide have pounced– to a degree that has admittedly baffled the paper’s editor-in-chief– a majority condemning Khoury and her perspectives.

As she wrote last week, “I woke up today and had 938 hate mails, 646 nasty Facebook comments, and dozens of mean-spirited tweets.  I’m a 19-year-old college sophomore, I help run my family’s restaurant, I’m a writer and editor at my school’s newspaper, and a woman from Australia says I’m ‘sexist.’ A professor from the University of Illinois wonders about my mental stability. A man double my age is calling me ‘ugly.’  In the past 48 hours, authors, war veterans, mothers of small children have told me I’m ignorant, worthless, brainwashed, classless, disgusting, hypocritical, and judgmental.”

In a separate response column, Spectrum EIC Matthew Parrino defended Khoury and described the saga as a learning experience.  In his words, “Khoury has as much a right to her opinion as anyone else on my staff or anyone who chooses to write in or comment. I do wish I could go back and have her re-read the piece, re-consider some of her wording and phrasing. But she is only a first-year editor.  She– like all of us college journalists– is learning. We make mistakes along the way. Some are bigger than others. Hopefully, our mistakes teach us to be better. The reaction to this article is a lesson to all of us at The Spectrum and especially to Khoury.  Beware of what you write. It can destroy you.

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