I guess I can see why as you’re unlikely to have seen any of them – my latest acquisition (acquisitions? Does it count as 1 or 2 tattoos?!) is the most visible of them all. But it isn’t a reaction brought on by the fact that they haven’t seen them, it’s more that I don’t appear to strike people as the “tattooed sort”.
I don’t know what it is about me that doesn’t make me appear like I might have tattoos, I didn’t think I was that boring, but the perception is there and that’s fine by me really because I can be safe in the knowledge that I know I’m getting tattooed for me and not to live up to a stereotype that I’m trying to perpetrate.
I have 3 other tattoos – 2 on either side of my stomach, and one on my back. The first one I got when I was 18, a present from my Mum for doing well in my A-levels. She thought that if she bought it for me and had some control over it I wouldn’t get something ridiculous. Little did she know that it’s hard to stop at just one – as soon as you have one you want more. And more. And more.
The second one came along after my first year at uni. A fairly standard kind of Celtic knot, kind of tribally business. And the final one were 3 stars going down the other side of my stomach that I got just before I went back to uni to do my MSc.
I wouldn’t say that I particularly regret any of my tattoos as such but part of me tends to downplay them, I’ll say that I know they’re not really good etc etc. But actually, each one reminds me of an period in my life, there is a meaning behind them, a reason I had them done and even though they were done from flash and aren’t unique to me, the meaning is. And yet I feel not particularly proud of them because I know that certain people would look down on them. Snobbery is rife in every walk of life and tattoo snobbery is rampant, especially amongst those who would consider themselves the “tattooed sort”.
But then the more I thought about it, the angrier I became. It’s actually no-one else’s business what I get tattooed on my body. Because it’s my body. If I want to have the name of every guy I’ve slept with tattooed down my forearm then that’s fine. If I want to get Winnie the Pooh put on my shoulder blade then that’s fine too. Whose business is it? You don’t think it’s cool? That’s awesome, I’m not asking to put it on your body.
Having said that, there’s something to be said about the wisdom of age – I would recommend taking your time over it, doing proper research and finding an artist whose work you admire. This wasn’t something I knew about at all when I got my first tattoos done and hence the quality of them could be better. And there’s definitely something to be said about thinking about it. Herbert the cat had been in my head for a good 6/7 months before I got him tattooed and even though I knew I was getting it done and had thought about the placement and knew where it was going, there was still a moment the next day when I looked down and realised that I would never again see my feet looking like this...
And had a mild “My god woman what have you done?!” moment. But I love him. And I love him because he was all my own idea. I came up with the idea myself and I know that no-one else has him – that means a lot to someone as creatively challenged as me. And I love him because I chose a great person to do it, someone who is immensely talented and has given me what I consider a piece of artwork.
Just in case you didn't see him last time round (this was literally just after I'd had them done, hence the redness!)
I love tattoos and I suspect I’d have many more in the future but unfortunately I work in the professional world and I have to consider that. Like I said, although attitudes are changing, we’re not quite “there” yet. Give it a couple of generations I think. Yes I think it’s bad that people would judge you on your tattoos and no it isn’t fair but it’s a fact for the time being.
And before the whole “What happens when you’re an old wrinkly woman” argument crops up...yes I am sure that when I’ve had children and when I’m old and wrinkly my tattoos might not look so great. But my god, if I’m going to live the rest of my life worried about what I might look like in 50 years time then what’s the point of living at all? Besides, who’s to say I will have children and I will get old and wrinkly, how sad would it be if one of your last thoughts was...”I really wish I’d gone ahead and had that cat tattooed on my foot....”?
I think my message is clear – you do what you would like to do with your body and I’ll do what I would like to do to mine, ‘kay?
Also: It really wasn’t that bad getting the tops of my feet tattooed. I think people are squeamish about it because it feels like because the skin is thin then it’ll hurt more and I did get a bit hyped up about it but it was really fine. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not painless, ( those people that tell you tattoos don’t hurt are lying) but it’s not horrendous at all. It’s impossible to describe the pain to someone who hasn’t been tattooed before, I find it more of an irritating feeling than an immensely painful one and I’ll tell you this – I’d rather have a tattoo a million times over then have another pulmonary embolism. THAT was painful. Remember however that my tattoo is not huge and not massively detailed so that will play a factor too in how painful it is I would imagine. Put it this way, if it was that painful, why would people go back for more?!