As a child and teen I loved to draw on myself. I’ve always been pale so everything shows up really well on me, and I took advantage of it. As a teen I not only drew and wrote on myself, but volunteered with some children’s ministries and every fall festival I got to be the face (and hand, and arm) painter and draw on other people too. As such, I’ve always loved tattoos. I’ve pretty much wanted a tattoo since I was a kid. What I want to get changed a lot until the past 5 or so years where the old ideas have stayed the same and each new idea hasn’t changed once I conceived it.
A few of my friends have been inked more than once, but most of the people I know dislike tattoos because of their permanence and because “so many tattoos are ugly”.
The idea of permanence is actually one of the things that appeals to me. Perhaps those who have old ink would not have chosen that art at this point in their lives, but having it from the past tells who they were or how they’ve changed, and I think that’s cool. Plus, the problem with drawing on your skin with a Sharpie or face paint or even henna is that no matter how cool your design, it washes off eventually. If something is beautiful and took a lot of time or effort to get it on my skin, I want it to last. This is especially true since I’m very much a researcher and planner and when I do something it is very rarely a rash decision.
As for the apparent frequency of ugly tattoos, obviously there are some objectively bad and/or ugly tattoos, but I have a theory about why we harsh-judge so many tattoos as ugly: we see them out of context. If you see a picture on the internet or even a tattoo in person on a stranger, it is completely removed from its context; you don’t know the person who chose to have it permanently etched on their skin, so you don’t know that it might actually suit them perfectly. Just as I see some crazy print jacket in a store and think it’s appalling, I know that there’s definitely someone out there who could rock it. (If no one else, there’s always Lady Gaga, right?) A tattoo one considers ugly out of context may also have a great story or meaning behind it, which is another thing I love about tattoos. I love when they mean something to the person who got them. Although, to be honest I also just like tats that were done that are just pretty or cool–looking.
Getting one of the five tattoos I’ve wanted for a few years was on my 30 x 30 list (as yet unposted) and, granted, it took me three months after my birthday to do it, but, friends – I did it. Tonight I finally got a tattoo.
I love it.
I love it more than I thought I would. I love it so much. It’s beautiful, it’s purple, and despite my words to the contrary as it felt like the artist was carving my foot with a knife*, it was worth it. I don’t expect those of you who have a general dislike of tattoos to like mine, so don’t lie and say you do, but I think those of you who know me well will see that in the context of me, it’s perfect.
Best Friday Favorite ever.
*Seriously, it hurt so much. That’s what I get for choosing one of the most painful body parts to get my first tattoo on. I think I about squeezed my husband’s fingers off and also made very unflattering faces and noises and swore off every other tattoo and wondered why on earth people get addicted. Then it was finally done (actually it only took maybe 10 very very long minutes) and it was so pretty and another artist in the shop came over to look at it and realized it was my first tat and said, “Wow, you did good for your first tattoo, and on your foot too! There’s not much that hurts worse than a foot!” I said to him and the artist who did mine, “Let me tell you the other places I want tattoos and you tell me how much they hurt.” I did, and they said the foot is like a 5-star pain and the other places I want are 1-star and 2-star. The internets confirm this. So who knows?