Where to Draw the Line

by Erin on June 16, 2009


Sassy Stripes Dress

SewStylish is having a Spring Sewing Contest, and GertieT emailed me to let me know that her adorable dress has made the finals (it's there up above). Go check out the other two dresses, too, and vote! Voting closes TONIGHT (the 16th) at midnight.

She also wanted to let me know that several of the less-courteous commenters had said things like "Your tattoos are disqusting [sic]……I wouldn't vote for your dress even if I liked it…." and "too bad!!! [about the tattoos] coz the dress is lovely!!!"

C'mon, people. This is how it goes. You can certainly refuse to vote for a dress if you don't like GertieT's tattoos — it's your right to cast a vote based on any criteria you like. However (just so you know) you pretty much make yourself look like a blithering idiot by commenting to that effect. What will those comments accomplish? GertieT getting hers lasered off? (No.) Will they prevent some other person from getting a tattoo? (Unlikely.) All they do is make you look like narrow-minded ignoramuses.

Now, if this had been an actual moral issue — say, one of the contestants had been convicted of assault, or was an avowed racist, or something like that — I think you would be within your rights to announce WHY you weren't voting for a particular candidate. But because you don't like tattoos? Sheesh.

Now, I'm not a huge fan of tattoos. What does this mean? It means *I* don't have one. I've never found any image that I liked enough to want to make a permanent part of my skin. But that doesn't matter — what other people do with their skin is no concern of mine. And it's certainly not pertinent to the questions at hand, which is: "What's the nicest dress?"

The contest wasn't SewStylish's Spring Beauty Contest — it was a sewing contest! It takes a lot of gumption to pose for a contest picture, and if there are going to be these sorts of ad hominem comments, I bet there will be fewer contestants next round. What if next time one of the contestants is "overweight" (whatever that means) or is "too goth" (as if there was any such thing) or has an unusual hairstyle (whatever that is) or, heaven forbid, has something pierced other than her ears?

I don't want to be all "Oh noes! People are mean on the Internets!" but really, sewing people, I expect better from YOU. So if you're ever tempted to make this kind of comment, safe and protected behind your keyboard, think about how you would feel if a bunch of bozos decided to leave similar comments about you.

It's the Golden Rule, peoples. It's not difficult. Or if the "unto" in the Golden Rule trips you up, you can ask yourself two simple questions: "Is it truthful? Is it kind?"

{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

Cookie June 16, 2009 at 2:34 pm

I agree it is untoward to make such comments…and the dress is adorable! Maybe the critics are hard-line uber-Christians? (See Leviticus 19:28 Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.)

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jerseyfern June 16, 2009 at 2:41 pm

Wow. It was my pleasure to work in an office with GertieT. On the day of her interview, she came in wearing a rather demure dress, stockings, basic, normal office attire. How pleased we were when GertieT. got to know us and started to wear her preferred embellished denim jackets and the like and show us her spectacular tattoos. GertieT and her body art were a day brightener!

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Zoltar Panaflex June 16, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Im not a big tattoo fan myself, but that is limited to MYSELF. Bodies are part of fashion, people pull and cinch themselves to change their shape, color, perm, straighten, cut hair, wear jewelry, any of the infinite combination in body art and personal ornamentation.Its typical of the internet that people hide behind their snide comments, things they would never have the guts to say out loud, just in their bitter little minds.Whats the joke? An infinite number of monkeys at an infinite number of typewriters? Well, its happened, its the internet.I personally liked all the dresses, they were all so different, I think theyre all wonderful. Just as different as each individual person!

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Anonymous June 16, 2009 at 3:01 pm

You go Erin. Not a fan of tats myself, in that Im a 57 year old grandma and I would look quite silly sporting a tattoo, but if GertieT wants to get tats, fine by me. Not my body, not my business.Mermie in Omaha

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Sal June 16, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Thank you for saying this. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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GertieT June 16, 2009 at 3:12 pm

Aw, EH, thats so sweet. (That is you, right? Your picture is so tiny!) Thats what I like to call the interview fake-out.Erin, thanks so much for linking to this. People have been really awesome in coming to my defense, even if that made the post more a discussion about tattoos rather than dresses! Its made me think a lot about the different sewing communities online. I have always stuck with BurdaStyle in the past, as opposed to say, Pattern Review. I think I sort of subconsciously thought I might not fit in on some of the older sites, and this experience has confirmed for me that there are very different communities of crafters, some of which might not mingle so well. I dont really like that. I think we have a lot we could learn from each other.Also, it brought up some issues of personal style, which youve discussed so eloquently here. Several of the other comments expressed thoughts along the lines the real problem is that your tattoos and the dress clash. Now, I expressly picked the blue stripes because I liked the way they looked with my tattoos! It just bothers me when anyone makes an empirical style statement like Darth Vader dresses are always a NO. Unless youre Tim Gunn, then you can say whatever you want. :)

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Anonymous June 16, 2009 at 3:14 pm

I guess tats really are a conversation starter!-Sandra

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midwestelle June 16, 2009 at 3:18 pm

Here, here!

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Valerie June 16, 2009 at 3:35 pm

The dress AND the tats rock. Your skin is a canvas, the tattoo the art. The body is a canvas, the dress the art. What is the big deal about her tattoos? These people are the same kind that think you should only read certain kinds of books listen to certain kinds of music and dress the way they do. Close minded people will never enjoy life the way an open minded person does. Again, that dress rocks. And GertieT you look gorgeous in it!

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Natasha June 16, 2009 at 3:45 pm

She is quite sexy in her dress WITH her tats. Keep it up lovely lady!

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Little Hunting Creek June 16, 2009 at 3:47 pm

Love the dress, dont mind the tattos. The mean commenters should be ashamed of themselves.

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Heather June 16, 2009 at 3:50 pm

As a resident of Las Vegas, Gerties dress and tattoos are the norm here. Its so shocking to see how spiteful some people are. Shes got my vote all the way, she did a spectacular job of handling the nasty comments with class. Great job good luck!

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fadedstitch June 16, 2009 at 4:19 pm

That is a lovely dress. I usually tell people that have something negative to say about my tats…if I really cared what you thought, I would have called you before I got them put on. I think her tats are outstanding and she should be proud of them.

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Sew Brilliant June 16, 2009 at 4:28 pm

The blue striped dress is so very refreshing and so very wearable that it won my vote. BTW – I have no chemical implants under my skin. But GertieT is lovely and the skin art suits her just fine. Control freaks criticize whenever they think they can cook up a reason, so today they can go get their cookies somewhere else.

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Miss Amelina June 16, 2009 at 5:16 pm

I live in the Pacific Northwest and SO MANY people have tats here, its like a circus side show. :)I think I am the only one in my group of friends that DOESNT have one. But Ive never really been in style. :)I forget that its different in narrow-minded less progressive parts of the country….but just because you live there, either geographically or in your own head, its no reason to be mean-spirited. Thats like saying you dont like a dress because the model has bad hair.

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Seattle Yogini June 16, 2009 at 6:08 pm

All three dresses are beautiful, as are the ladies wearing them…well, except for that headless one.Anyway, I would love to know if GertieT is wearing a crinoline under the skirt of her dress or if she did some kind of amazing uber-finishing technique to get it to stick out so wonderfully.

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Maggie June 16, 2009 at 6:10 pm

As a year older than Mermie I can attest to how silly a tat would look on us. I was educated to how young people view tats attending a wedding last month. The bride and her sister, both very attractive young women, sported quite a bit of body art. I was intrigued by how different gernerations look at such things. Anyone my age or older thinks of a time when only WWII vets or truck drivers wore arm tats. Its a different time and place now and you need to go with the flow. The dress is the item in question not the tats. Maggie

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gwensews June 16, 2009 at 6:20 pm

Bravo! I applaud you!

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Anonymous June 16, 2009 at 6:39 pm

Erin, I saw you mentioned in William Safires column this past Sunday!!! Very cool.

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Jennifer Murphy June 16, 2009 at 7:11 pm

I was also appalled at the nastiness of some posters on the Threads site. Sadly, the anonimity of the internet makes some people feel they can say completely inappropriate things Im sure they would never have the courage to say to someones face. Its childish and cowardly. What kind of nasty, small-minded person feels they need to ruin someone elses happy moment?Your dress is beautiful Gertie! Youve inspired me to get creative with stripes.

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Renee June 16, 2009 at 8:08 pm

Well said, Erin! I love how you make a statement. GertieT – you dress is great – and my hope is that you win the contest.As one of the over-fifty set with a large upper arm tattoo – sometimes I feel too old to have it. Im not who I was thirty years ago – but its a good reminder of Where I was. And it still is a conversation starter, like it or not.

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Jessica June 16, 2009 at 8:21 pm

I love the dress! The blue stripes are fabulous. Honestly, Id never noticed the tats if people hadnt complained. Tattoos are art and yours are lovely. Even if they werent, the contest wasnt about tattoos, it was about dresses.Youve got my vote.

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*Sandra* June 16, 2009 at 8:37 pm

I had a profile with pics posted on a website a while ago and some nice fellow went to the trouble of emailing me to tell me I must be the ugliest woman on the site. But I didnt care because because it was the same site where I found my surrogate daughter (check my blog if you want the full story). Plus, my honey tells me all the time that Im beautiful, so that guy must have been mistaken.Dont get upset over bigots, GertieT — your dress is fab!

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Anonymous June 16, 2009 at 8:50 pm

Rude, off-topic comments have distracted people from this great dress! I voted for it because of those PERFECTLY matched stripes and that fabulous little white trim above the buttons. Like a tiny tailored suit made into a very sharp dress. Wow. Im not a tatoo person, either, but who cares? Super sewing, GertieT!Dawn

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*Sandra* June 16, 2009 at 8:50 pm

Oh, just read the rest of the comments, including the ones from more mature ladies. My daughter has a rather large tattoo across her shoulders and I think its beautiful.Personally, if I were to get tattoos I would go for something a little more discreet. I love the Rolling Stones, and frogs, so Ive been toying with the idea (seriously… Im not making it up) of getting a Rolling Stones Hot Licks logo tattooed strategically in my groin, and a frog with tongue unfurled (also strategically placed) on my butt. Would that be inappropriate for a 62-year-old?

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Jules June 16, 2009 at 9:22 pm

Definitely! Its not about the tattoos or whatever. Its all about the beautiful dresses. Looking forward on your next post.=DTravel and LivingJob Hunter

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reilly June 16, 2009 at 9:25 pm

You go GertieT! I think its silly that those people couldnt just say who they preferred, but they had to be negative. I have enough tattoos that I dont count them anymore, and I dress mostly in vintage clothing from the 50s – I dont think they clash, because theyre both expressions of myself.

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GertieT June 16, 2009 at 9:40 pm

Thanks so much, everyone, for your kind comments!Seattle Yogini, Im not wearing a crinoline under the dress. The fabric has quite a bit of body (its a medium weight stretch twill), but I also fused a tricot interfacing in the hem to give it some oomph. I finished it with a twin-stitched (double needle) hem. The skirt really retains the a-line shape that way.

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Julie June 16, 2009 at 9:41 pm

I voted for this dress because I think the dress is stunning. It also helped that GertieT is also stunning, tattoos and all. I cant believe how judgemental some people can be. Be proud, young lady, you are beautiful and obviously extremely talented!

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gretchen June 16, 2009 at 10:16 pm

Gertie: The dress is adorable, and I hope you win. All the rest is commentary that says nothing about you and lots about those who post it.From one who can barely baste, Im delighted with the dress and your skills in making it. Good luck!!

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Sara June 16, 2009 at 10:33 pm

Amen, sister!

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Judi June 16, 2009 at 10:51 pm

You rock! Your dress is gorgeous, the stripes stunning, and your tattoos…cool! Beautiful dress. Well done. Heck with what the small minded peanut gallery said. The dress was the point of the exercise.

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propriatress June 17, 2009 at 12:04 am

thanks Erin for being such a well-spoken (written) gal…that is a lovely dress..Ill go vote now…as far as grandmas with tats go…uh, Im a 4 time grandma and Ive wanted tats all my life! (I grew up with vets and sailors)…so I finally got 2 big ones, and Im going back for more this summer…cookie is correct..as a preachers kid myself, I am going straight to H.E.doublehockey sticks for the tats. Oh well.

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Anonymous June 17, 2009 at 2:08 am

Hey, I just saw this gorgeous dress and did not even notice the tattoos. Werent we meant to be looking at the dress?Jenny

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bani June 17, 2009 at 2:50 am

Okay, while agreeing with the whole be nice idea (really! not being sarcastic), I am more burned up with wanting to understand the mean internets comic strip Erin linked to. I DONT GET IT and its doing my head in.

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oracle June 17, 2009 at 6:19 am

What midwestelle said.

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Joni June 17, 2009 at 7:09 am

Tattoos like Gerts are common enough that I cant imagine those particular commenters have never seen ones like them before. Which makes me suspect that its just a case of Internet bravery.Things like this underscore why I have a love/hate relationship with the Internet. On the one hand it seems to bring out the worst in people (and I think that while the general comment I dont like tattoos is fine, the specific criticism Hey, you! Your tattoos are ugly! is not); on the other hand, without the Internet we would have no Dress A Day, no PatternReview, no Fabric.com…Personally, I am deathly afraid of needles, so I will *never* be tattooed. Another thing I am deathly afraid of is matching the stripes so perfectly like that… it gives me headaches just thinking about it! Somebody, please tell me its easier than it looks?

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lindylady June 17, 2009 at 7:42 am

Im just about to turn 52 and have 3 tats; getting 2 of them after I turned 50. I love my tats and have gotten so many compliments on them. Not only because theyre beautiful works of art but because they also express who I am as a result of lifes journey. Self-knowledge and self-expression know no age limits.I think Gertie T looks lovely in her pretty frock and her ink is beautiful!

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lucitebox June 17, 2009 at 8:00 am

Thank you for saying this, Erin.Ive had rude comments yelled at me (mostly as an oddball teen in a small town sporting New Wave styles during the 80s), so its not just the internet thats the problem. Lets face it, jack-pipes are everywhere and being a jack-pipe isnt at all a new phenom. (If you dont know what a jack-pipe is, its something that rhymes with glass-pole.) Come to think of it, if I had to pick who gets to display their bad manners to me, Id take people who yelled at me on the street any day over pussies who think its cool to anonymously comment mean thoughts about someones appearance in an online contest.Lastly–my eyes were riveted to the side seams on her dress. Im guessing that takes some real skill to pull off that perfectly aligned chevron thing she has going on at the sides of the skirt. Bravo!

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Latter-Day Flapper June 17, 2009 at 8:06 am

I actually think sundresses look better with tattoos, and I dont even have any tattoos myself. I dont have any sundresses, either, though. Hmmm.

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Meretta June 17, 2009 at 8:39 am

Hi,I read the comments about the tattoos yesterday and couldnt believe it. I know that there are mean spiteful people who will make nasty comments with the anonimity of the internet, which they would never dare in the real world. But here we are talking about sewing people, and I really have higher expectations for my fellow sewers.Well done on the dress GertieT.By the way, I hang out on PatternReview, and I wouldnt have thought youd feel out of place there.

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La BellaDonna June 17, 2009 at 8:41 am

Im extremely unhappy that, in a venue which encourages self-expression (otherwise, whats a craft for?), people have seen fit to wax vile over someone elses form of self-expression. In the name of heaven, what does someone elses tattoos do to the viewer? You dont like it, dont look, but why be a horses behind? Im sorry for your experience regarding the nasty comments, GertieT.Ill be 52 this summer, and I not only have tattoos, Ill be getting them refreshed – that is, when I have the money. I happen to think theyre just fine for someone my age: I got my eyebrows AND my eyeliner – upper and lower lids – done discreetly enough that I can wake up still looking like myself, but I can add makeup over them if I want more emphasis.

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Sharon June 17, 2009 at 10:42 am

Bravo Erin, well said. Gertie T, bravo to you, too. I love the dress, it is stunning, is obviously well made and sets off the tats beautifully.

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Theresa June 17, 2009 at 10:50 am

My son just a got his first Tatto — a huge foream black Horde symbol from WoW…some one said good luck getting a job. Hes 19. He evntually wants his arms totally sleeved. Other people have commented on my parenting skills because my daughter has a spetum peircing, enlarged ear peircings and two lip piercings. Whatever…shes a good kid and she earned every one of them by bring home good report cards. She works a military base in the Water Park snack bar…Im told shes the best worker they have. (they make her wear a face mask because of the health codes, but she doesnt complain.)

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Evelyn June 17, 2009 at 11:01 am

Im 59 and have had a tattoo for years and just love it. I have never regretted it for a moment and may get yet another one before I throw off this mortal coil. Gertie, both you and your dress are gorgeous!

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Anonymous June 17, 2009 at 11:12 am

I stopped doing pattern reviews because of all the nasty comments I got because I am fat. Gee, you think the muscular dystrophy might have something to do with that?Honey it is always something. Some rude people think they need to share their judgements of you. Those are usually people you dont want to know. Just move on.I thought your dress was the best of the bunch. Such an incredible use of stripes. You rock. Stick with the cool kids who dont care about your tats. You just have an easy way to screen out the bigots.

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La BellaDonna June 17, 2009 at 12:35 pm

Bani, if I understand the Troll Slayer comic correctly, the woman unsuccessfully requesting people to be polite on her blog (Stephenie Meyer, author of the supernatural [vampire, werewolf, etc.] series of books known generally as Twilight) retaliates against the troll by putting his/her web address in her next book – the trolls blog then is overrun by people who LOVE the Twilight series, and the troll completely loses control of his/her blog. It still may not make much sense to you, but it would be a pretty awful fate for a troll. Think of it as his being hoist with his own petard.

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Sarah June 17, 2009 at 12:37 pm

I loved the dress and I voted for it! I wish I had your sewing skills. Personally, Ive never wanted to get a tattoo, but it didnt occur to me to consider that when voting.

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lorenakitty June 17, 2009 at 1:52 pm

my 98 year old waspy grandmother would say – what harm in the tatoos? they are personal adornment. and to the nayayers – misery loves company so if you cant say anything nice keep your mouth shut. besides the dress is lovely and her sewing skills are obvious so perhaps they are simply jealous.

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Sara June 17, 2009 at 2:08 pm

The nerve of some people really gets to me these days, especially on the Internets, where they are anonymous. If you wouldnt say it someones face, dont say it on the web!I think Gerties tattoos are hot. :)

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Kristen June 17, 2009 at 3:43 pm

that is one fantastic dress! im so sorry that Gertie found herself instead of her skills up for judgement! Good Job Gertie!

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bani June 18, 2009 at 8:47 am

Thanks Belladonna! :D I didnt get what the website was – I read it as Stephanie Meyer starting a new website, which was obviously wrong… I blame working night shifts. ;)

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Holly June 18, 2009 at 11:29 am

some people just arent happy unless everyone is exactly like them. i think the dress is adorable!

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Chantelle June 18, 2009 at 2:45 pm

I thought that the dress had been perfectly designed to show off the gorgeous tats! Im not a tattoo person, myself (well, I have tattooed radiation markers, but they hardly count as they cant be easily seen), but I love the look of a well-designed, well-executed tattoo on someone else.The dress is beautiful and appears to be quite well-made. Id wear it in a heartbeat!It drives me nuts to think that people would comment on that – or on someones body shape – instead of commenting on the item on which theyre supposed to be focusing.

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Modiste1000 June 18, 2009 at 3:19 pm

Im Christian … and when I was first thinking of getting a tattoo, I looked up this nebulous Christians-dont-get-tattoos thing in the Bible myself. Well. The stricture is You shall not tattoo yourselves as the pagans do. Its a come-out-and-be-separate thing, as I read it, a be-clearly-the-people-of-God thing. (Apologies to any pagans reading this! You are wonderful!)So, I have no names of other gods, or Chinese dragons or symbols for wealth or health or luck, or images of other deities tattooed on me. But I have three awesome abstract tattoos I designed myself that are super colorful and I love them!!!Anyway, just my thought processes. Miss Bertie, you are scrumptious and your sewing skills are envious. And whoever is doing your body art, KEEP HER – she is doing RIGHT by you!!!

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Anonymous June 18, 2009 at 10:18 pm

Youre totally right loved the XKCD reference — how cool that two of my favorite things on the internets are connected in such a fine cause!

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Theresa June 18, 2009 at 10:38 pm

Its amazing to me what people will say when they think they are safe. once i overheard someone making comments about my daughters pink hair when she was playing in the orchestra…i turned around and said maybe you should think about whose mother is sitting in front of you talk about her child. there was some stammering and back , next pedaling…hopefully next time she will keep her mouth shut or say something like…What a pretty girl

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geogrrl June 19, 2009 at 3:10 pm

Some people are just asshats. Unfortunately, they tend to be more likely to shoot off their mouths (or keyboards) than more pleasant people.The dress is lovely. It is a cute style, well-fitted, and I cannot believe how well she matched up those stripes! Such a great piece of work.And I think Gertie looks adorable in it, tattoos and all.

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The Frugal Engineer June 19, 2009 at 4:16 pm

I looked at the picture and thought WOW, nice dress!, then proceeded on to your story and was all Huh? Tatoos?, looked back up at the picture and burst out laughing.I honestly hadnt even noticed the tatoos on the first go-round because the dress was so fabulous!

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Bessie B. June 21, 2009 at 1:08 am

Ah, the baseness of human nature is just simply ridiculous at times. Geez.Gertie, Im so sorry that your beautiful sewing accomplishment was overlooked by ANYONE because of your tattoos! Its so stupid and petty that it is not even worth worrying about. Your dress is gorgeous and I am super impressed at your sewing skills! You matched your stripes so perfectly! Way 2 go!!! :D

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Jean C. June 22, 2009 at 6:28 pm

Yep, here in the states… people have a right to do what they want! Her dress is lovely! So, since Ive just read this one today who won? Im not into tatoos either… but, my mom taught me… the old saying…. If you cant say something nice dont say anything at all! Besides, I dont know the person… and she is probably a neat gal… Besides that, she sews! Whats not to like!

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mary13 June 24, 2009 at 5:30 pm

I think GertieTs tattoos are beautiful. Not everyone can pull this off, and she does so with style and grace. And all that with a red flower in her hair. Viva la difference!

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Chrissy October 31, 2009 at 8:59 am

I completely agree that her tatoos have nothing to do with the contest. Perhaps some readers are against tatoos for biblical reasons but a true Christian would not voice disapproval in such a rude and unloving manner, if at all. Our character is more important than our appearance and the negative comments about the tatoos show a mean-spirited character. Good luck Gertie, your dress is very cute!

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