Wednesday, 8 February 2012's my body innit?

People always seem a little shocked when I say I have tattoos. And their incredulity grows when they realise I have 3 (now 4) of them.

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?!


  1. This is my favourite line from this post:

    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?

    So true. ;-)

  2. I don't think the really is a "sort" of person that has tattoos it's just been so overly stereotyped that anyone that seems normal and has a tattoo is shocking. I've got 5 one on my wrist that is fairly large and people are always telling me that I don't seem the sort either. And yes they are SUPER addicting. Just remember when anyone gives you any lip that yes it is your body and they don't have to look if they don't want to!

  3. Love the tattoo. I can totally relate to what you are saying as I get the same response, I have 4 tattoos- including one on my foot. My last one, a daisy chain around my wrist, is the most obvious and people are shocked when I tell them that I have another 3. I really don't know why.

  4. Hell yes! I've been thinking about getting a tattoo for about 10 years! I'm just not decisive enough to pick a picture and stick with it. I did read an article about a guy who got a tattoo for every important event in his life - which I thought was an awesome idea.

    I have had a number of piercings in the past though. I think that it's your body, decorate it any way you like and to hell with anyone else. x

  5. It absolutely is your body. However, I beg you, please don't get Winnie the Pooh or any other Disneyana tattooed onto your person because I may have to be judgemental about it and I don't like to do that.

    (I couldn't have one. I freak out if I get pen on my hand. I don't even have pierced ears. But again, my body, innit?)

  6. The more I look at the tattoo the more I love it. It has character and movement. I have thought about getting a tattoo but I scar very badly and I'm scared it wouldn't work on me properly. Plus my scars are almost body art!

  7. Yep yep yep, good on you woman. Each to their own basically!

  8. I have no tattoos because I have a super low pain threshold, but your advice makes perfect sense. My mum once made the comment about how you'll look when you're 80 or whatever, and I made the point that tattoos aren't as unusual as they once were, there will be plenty of people in the same boat at 80 ;)

  9. There was an interesting artilcle in The Guardian the other day - Top five regrets of the dying:

    Cat tattoos are not specifically mentioned but I think they probably fall into

    1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.


  10. I had a feeling that wasn't your first TBH, not sure why! People are always really shocked when they find out I have a tattoo, maybe because we're 'good girls' really?

  11. It is your body and I say do what you like. Your tattoos are a part of who you are and what makes you, you! There are mummies who are thousands of years old who are 1, Women and 2, Much more interesting to study than those without tattoos as everyone wonders what the meanings of their tattoos were, etc.
    You should read about this lady:
    I have an entire sleeve tattoo. I have the words of Yeats ( and flowers and the rabbit from Alice in wonderland. People have often frowned at me or told me they think it is disgusting but I don't care. I love the poem I have tattooed. I love everything that is on my arm. Just because I am 32, have two kids I feel I am expected to look 'normal' It's pretty sad. It's an old-fashioned state of mind. I love your foot tattoos..they are happy and colourful and even though I don't 'know' you in the real world, I think they seem to put across what a happy and fun person you come across as, perfectly.

  12. There used to be a tat place in Newcastle that had a sign that read something like "if you have a problem with tattoos, you don't have one".

    My first was really nicely done, the second a bit too cack-handed so it really does pay to find one through recommendations.

    I always describe the pain as being drawn on with a really sharp pencil - not terrible but you definitely feel it.

  13. I've got one tattoo which I got for my 18th birthday and I've wanted it since I was 14 coz it's something from a Marilyn Manson album that means a lot to me. It's on my left shoulder and I remember when my college tutor said to me "What about when you're wearing a wedding dress? It would show!" why does that matter?

    My mum's probably not the 'type' to have lots of tattoos but I think she has 12 or 13 (lost count!) and they all mean a lot to her.

    There are people who have tattoos for the sake of it, i.e. having a cheese toastie tattoo coz they liked them one week. Now that really annoys me.

  14. Awwww, Herbert is really cute!!! And his paw prints are soooo sooo sweet!! I think some tattoos look really nice on people! My sister has a cute little dolphin on her back. I wouldn't judge anyone as you say, it's their business and its not for me to pass my opinion- only admiration. Personally, I wouldn't get one done though as I have a weird thing about getting any ink on my hands. As a child, (and now as an adult) I really really don't like being stamped at gigs, couldn't stand writing on hands and mendhi really creeps me out! I'm also fearful of face-paints!

  15. I agree with you 100% It's your body and your life. I don't have tattoos. not becasue I feel particularly strongly about them one way or another I just don't have any. When I cancelled my first wedding I wanted to have a tattoo on my foot to remind myself to never again put up with being unhappy. as it happened I met James and had Sophie before I got it done and now don't need reminding! I would like to have Sophie's name tattooed somewhere but don't know where or what to have so I'll leave it untill somethign hits me! People do judge others far too easily but that's their problem, not yours!!!

  16. I don't think if you don't have a tattoo you're boring. I really like some tattoos. I think they're pretty cool and I would really like a thai one from my wrist bone down to my elbow in a very narrow black straight line saying something like 'Loving and Curious' but a) that might not help my teaching career in some countries and b) I'm wary of them. I know how irritated I get with just wearing earrings sometimes so when I think about getting a tattoo I remember that. I don't know, I am one of these people who'd probably relish in being a nudist if I ever decided to explore that sort of thing. Sometimes I hate too many accessories and sometimes (esp in the winter) I wish I could rip off all the layers of clothes that are piled up on me and suffocating me. Weird I know but oh well!

    The stupid thing is I wish I was an accessories person. I wish I could wear high heels and rings and necklaces and have lots of piercings...but I just know they'd drive me insane eventually.

    It is cool you can do this! :) xxx

  17. I want a kitty cat tattoo but I don't know where...... Yours is cute!


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