In the days before I get a tattoo, I go through a number of different thought processes; from “am I making the right decision?” to “maybe I should just get a whole sleeve done!” Inevitably, every single time, I arrive at the same final thought “this is for me, no one else.” Maybe it’s because I’ve got a few tattoos now, maybe it’s because most of them are on my arms or maybe it’s because I come across as approachable but for some reason my tattoos are a source of conversation, constantly. I have been asked about the ink that covers my arms and on more than one occasion I have been given people’s unwanted and entirely unsolicited opinions on why I have ruined my body and what will become of my (apparently nonexistent) future because of them. This is the thing though, regardless of what anyone thinks or says or thinks they should say, my ink is mine and mine alone. For me, it’s more than just some pretty colours on my arms or a cool drawing, every tattoo is for something, it has a story, a meaning, and those things are what make them important to me.
I know full well there are people out there who like decorating their bodies with whatever images appeal to them, that people get tattoos purely because they like the style or the look or whatever, but that’s not me. I deliberate a fair bit before every tattoo I get and as such it’s not just an offhanded remark when someone tells me “that’s a bit masculine isn’t it?” or “ew, why’d you get that?” or my personal favourite, “that looks sort of tacky doesn’t it?”. Those things are personal to me, and when someone, anyone, makes a derogatory comment towards me about something that I place a rather hefty amount of importance on it gets to me. I remember a few people referring to my tattoos as ‘tough stickers’ and when I was younger I used to think that was sort of cool, I used to think it was entertaining to see older people get a little put off by the fact that I had tattoos on my wrists. I used to think it was sort of endearing when people would strike up a conversation and tell me I was ‘so brave’ for having tattoos on my arms especially ‘as a woman’. These days… it’s a bit different. Those looks aren’t entertaining, those comments aren’t endearing and it’s 100% not fun when someone asks how I can be a good mother, raise a respectful young man, when I look the way I do.
What these people are unaware of is the fact that my ink gives me confidence. My tattoos make me feel better about myself on the days when I can’t stand to look myself in the mirror and these days that’s more frequent than I’d like to admit. I understand that comes across as somewhat vain but more often than not I’m not proud of how I look, I’m not happy with a number of things about myself, but my tattoos are something I’ve always been proud of. They’re something I can control (to a degree), I get to pick the style I like, the artist I like, the images and references I like. I can decide what gets put on my body and where and that gives me a sense of calm. Now more than ever I feel the need to have a bit of control, especially when I’m attempting to do a good job of raising the most perfectly amazing wild card ever.
I’ve had so many conversations over the years around how my tattoos impact on my future, how because I have things on my hands and wrists and arms that I will never be a manager or a CEO or anyone of any corporate importance. What none of these people seem to give any consideration to is the fact that maybe, just maybe, I don’t want to be any of things. That maybe my aspirations go beyond the corporate world, maybe my life goal isn’t to be a CEO but to be a painter, or a writer, or even just a good mother. None of those things are any less, or any more relevant or admirable than wanting to be a CEO or entrepreneur or whatever. I’ve spent a long time defending my choices about my body when I should’ve been enjoying being young and a just that little bit reckless. Over the years many things have changed, my friends, my address, my work, my body, my mind along with about a million others things; but the one constant thing is and always will be the tattoos I carry. I can look at the images on my arms and no matter where I am, or how scary or intense or terrifying the moment is I have a grounding point. If I forget for a moment who I am, if I get lost along the way, if I look at myself in the mirror and don’t recognise the person staring back at me, I have something that reminds me. I have these tattoos that remind me of the person who creates characters out of thin air, who loves to read and write, I have a reminder of a family that loves me and of the tough times I managed to come through.
Tattoos are a personal choice, they can have some kind of inspiring or thought provoking meaning or they can just be pretty. Tattoos are an expression of something, whatever that may be, some people regret their choices when it comes to tattoos, they get things removed or covered up, other people get tattoos on their faces so the whole world can see them no matter what. I don’t regret any of the tattoos I have, from the very first ones I ever got sitting on an old car seat in the top story of a guys house in England (it’s not nearly as bad as it sounds) to my sons name and birth date on my arm, every tattoo I have is important. So next time you go to make a comment about someone’s ink, the next time you pass judgement or think that it’s okay to say “I wouldn’t have gotten that tattooed” or “I personally don’t like them” etc, etc, just remember this… it’s not about you. If it’s not your thing, it’s not your thing. I can guarantee you you’ll never hear a tattooed person say “Oh I personally wouldn’t have not got tattoos,” or “I personally wouldn’t want clean skin.”
And, as always, have this little vibe for your troubles,
Tattoos have a power and magic all their own. They decorate the body but also enhance the soul. – Michelle Delio