I believe it was Sylvia Plath that one wrote, “wear your heart on your skin in this life”. Now, don’t get me wrong; Sylvia Plath is not the reason why I’ve wanted a tattoo since I was about 9 years old. There’s something so enticing and mystical about the idea of permanence to me. And yes, I am aware that not all tattoos are ‘permanent’ in a sense because it’s about the ink and fading and other such things I don’t know about. To me though, anything that is present for about a year is ‘permanent’ in a sense because it’s unlikely it’ll fade from memory. However, I will admit that 10 years ago, I had a cringe-worthy idea for tattoos and looking back now, I’m so glad I didn’t get any tattoos at that time. I genuinely wanted a dragon on my face, no joke. While that does sound ace, it’s not a good reflection of what I want a tattoo of now, not exactly anyway.
Tattoos have cultural importance on many societies through the years and I personally think that this has now evolved. If you ask someone why they have a tattoo or what their tattoo is about, it is more than likely that that person will link their tattoo to their own personal backstory. If a person shares their reasoning or symbolism behind their tattoo, it shows trust and mutual understanding. That’s what I like to think. In that sense, tattoos are like a sign of individuality and self-awareness.
Being a person that struggled and continues to struggle with the idea of unique identity, I am happy to say that I have a tattoo now. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that you need to get a tattoo to appreciate yourself more. But for me, personally, my tattoo helped me grow and appreciate a lot of the aspects of myself that I despised. I have had issues with my image, how I come across, how I speak, how I laugh and so many other, non-changeable aspects of myself for as long as I can remember. And as superficial as it sounds, my tattoo made me think of myself as a more interesting person. It was both a conversation starter and a piece of art, dedicated to me.
For me, tattoos are about you. You as an individual person. While I recognise that there can be many reasons as to why one may want to get a tattoo, I’m a firm believer that your tattoo should be something you can stand by. If you are ashamed of your tattoo, you can either remove it or find a new reason as to why you have one. Take mine for example; I have a tattoo of a triangle on my body but I found I can place more meaning onto it the older I get. After all, people are continuously evolving and changing, and while that may be difficult to come to terms with sometimes, it’s an inevitable part of being you. As you grow and change, some things may gain or lose importance to you and that’s ok. That’s what makes us diverse and human. There are so many things that make you diverse and different and if you want your tattoo to be part of that growth – allow it to be! You should be unapologetically you and if you want to show what makes you this way in a form of body art, then there should be no shame in that.