To Tat or Not to Tat

Tattoo.jpgI’ve been pondering for the past year or so getting another tattoo. I’ve even played around with a design. I’m pretty much sold on ‘yes, I am going to get one’ and I’m pretty much decided where it’s going to be.

But there’s always room to canvas opinion from my Internet Faithfuls.

Due to the location of the last tat, I can go for days at a time before I remember I’ve got one, till I see it in the bathroom mirror and go “ooh, there it is!” However, considering the amount of time I spend barefoot (which is considerable, including at the office) this one’s going to be a LOT more visible than the last.

Most people I see on a daily basis at work can’t wrap their heads round the idea of me with a tattoo – you could have knocked the Energizer Bunny down with a feather when he caught a glimpse last summer (his words). I’m not quite sure why this is, but I must portray a bit too much of the good-girl vibe on a day to day basis or something. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with a tattoo or that my colleagues are judgmental, but am I prepared for comments and questions that are bound to be more frequent with a visible design?

<tangent>True story: I’ve got a friend who was training to become a tattoo artist. He gave it up because he couldn’t face putting ‘tramp stamps’ on an endless stream of chav girls for the rest of his life.</tangent>

At the same time, I’ve not regretted for a moment that I got the last one as I adore it and the story behind it. I’d wanted to get one from the age of 14, after my godfather proposed the idea as a way to get me to accept some fairly major scarring as a part of me I could like and take control over. Somehow in the intervening six years a snake up the scar morphed into a dragon on the back, but the whole idea of using ink as a way of reclaiming ownership of a recalcitrant, and frankly fairly broken, body held true. I don’t think I’m alone in this justification for tattoos or piercing. I’ve no desire to turn myself into the painted lady, but I can fully understand the drive people have.

So my hesitation isn’t to do with “am I going to get bored with it in six months?”, it’s more to do with questions over whether the art I want fits with my own body image. I think it does. I want something lighter, more frivolous, and if I’m being honest here, prettier. Not girly-girl, heaven forfend, but definitely feminine. It’s no longer about trying to reclaim my body but, if I close one eye and kinda squint at the whole situation sideways, it’s about putting a stamp on who am I now and going “yes, this is me, and I like me”. The first tat is secret, intensely personal, and with sub-text I don’t think I am explaining very well. This one’s going to be public.

It’s not about aligning myself with certain sub-cultures, though those questions are of course going to be raised, and if I’m being truthful here if I didn’t move in the circles I move in, tattoos might be less acceptable to me. It’s not about branding myself a rebel. Nor, as my mother is convinced, is it a mark of a deep self-loathing and my incipient downfall (she does worry, bless her). Rather than all that it’s just ink on my skin. Something of my personality made visible and public, and an affirmation for me that this is where I want to be. Life has shat fairly heavily on my head in the past and this is just me sticking my tongue out and going “No, you’re not going to win”.

This is me. I’m a work in progress. I’m going to get things wrong, that’s pretty much guaranteed, but I’m going to have fun doing it, and by god I’m going to do it how I want to.

And get a kick-ass tattoo in the process 😉

p.s. 1 – you know those posts you start wanting to say one thing, but then end up talking about something completely different? Yeah, this was one of those. It started with a whole “shall I get a tat?” theme, and ended with a whole “I’m getting a tat, like it or lump it, but here’s my justification”. Ah well, it’s what wanted to get written I guess.

p.s. 2 – To be serious for a moment, if you are seriously getting a tattoo of your own think it through carefully. Don’t get one because you’re friends are, get one because YOU want one. Go to the parlour before hand, talk to the artist, make sure you feel comfortable with them. And talk to other people who’ve had work done there (recommendations are the best way to go). Most importantly, check the place is clean and safe. Some councils license tattoo parlours: make sure you go to a licensed one. Tattoo’s can be removed (eventually, after a lot of painful laser work) but hepatitis and aids will be your friends for the rest of your life.

15 thoughts on “To Tat or Not to Tat

  1. I tend to get the same reaction from people when they learn that I have a tattoo.

    I too plan on getting another one, likely this summer. I have a couple of ideas that I’m tossing around, but I may just end up designing it on my own. I love tattoos!

  2. I like it a lot! Very Cas, and really pretty and unusual. Therefore, it is so much a cas-like thing that I don’t think comments will be difficult- people who know you will see it as a reflection of you, not an ‘odd’ thing.

    I’m starting to save up for the really big back piece. I have finally decided that if people judge me on it then I shouldn’t care what they think. And that I will be able to hide it enough for work.

  3. Ooh, you’ve got a tat Jay? What and where? And if you’re seriously thinking of getting a new one, you could do worse than talking to Surly – he designs some kick-ass tattoos. I should know seeing as how he owns the copyright on my back, and shortly (maybe) my foot.

    Thank you Neko – I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks it is very ‘Cas-like’.

    Surly – yes, it is an amazing dragon. Truly, I couldn’t wish for a better design than the one you did 🙂

  4. I took a while before getting my first tat. I always said would wait until over 25 as got way to into getting piercings – least bar a dip in skin those are to the large extent now not there not visible. I am currently left with 4 piercings which I am all happy with. I also get the tattoos being about reclaiming body – I want my next one to be something like a straight spine as I don’t have one due to injury. The 2 I do have are on my arms at the top and unless I wear a summer top don’t get seen. I am not sure if I am ‘the tattoo type’ or not, maybe I once was but don’t really know now. It’s assumed I guess because I do have a labret (not all my piercings are visible) that I would have tats.

    I’ve always thought about having a henna style tattoo done as in the fluid movement and lighter look. I’m not one for big tattoos or colour. My tattoos are mono tones and shading only. I also took my time and made sure wasn’t something that would be an issue later – nothing like a granny with a warped cartoon character to say class. Mine are not of things they are one a symbol and the other one a doodle graphic that Simon created. Both of them having meaning and to me that is what tattoos are about. The one on my arm that is a symbol we both have and got when we started seeing each other – it was also my first tattoo as he has a few more.

  5. I’d love to see your tattoos if you’re in a sharing mood Tammie (ditto you Jay) – I’ll understand if you’re not however. I’ve made this irrational decision that my back tattoo is not going to get displayed on the internet: it’s going to be the one part of my life that is totally offline in that respect. I will share that it is black-work and shading, no colour, and is a tribal-esque dragon, but that’s it.

    Sorry. My mind is made up on this score. If you want to see the tat, you’re going to have to at least buy me a cup of tea. In person.

  6. I have a few tattoos… each of them was done for a personal reason, to mark a milestone in this silly life journey. They each have “meaning” to fit the experience and no one knows what they are except for me and a very few choice others. I love my tats, they are an extension of my mind, my spirit, my self… with all of that said, I have designed each of mine, because with the reasoning behind them that I have, it would be silly to get one to say, celebrate my triumph over cancer with a pheonix rising from the ashes of my scarred body that someone else designed and that might be on my neighbor’s ass.
    I love the one you penned on your foot… and I swear I’m not copying when I tell you that I have been planning something very similar on my ankle for a couple of months!

  7. and I totally didn’t say what I meant to in that comment… DOH.
    I have one on the top of my foot and I get asked about it every single time I am not wearing shoes that cover it. So there, you have been warned. Some people even try to touch it.
    Hey that’s my foot! Do NOT TOUCH. hehehe.

  8. Thank you meowkaat – the more I think about it, the more I am certain the one I drew on myself with a felt-tip is the design I want. I’ve even got a date picked out in the calendar when I could get it done (*eek*)

    As for people touching my foot, well, they do so at their own peril. Grrr.

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