Wednesday, August 8

on choosing to be tattooed.

This is a post that I've been ruminating on for a long while. I've spent many moments at the sink washing dishes, or in the shower, or building block towers with Iris and wondering... what is it that captivates me so much about the art of tattooing?

I remember that as a child, I received the impression that tattoos are disgusting and only trashy and criminal people get them. I remember the raised eyebrows and the noticeable disgust. I remember my father once telling me that he thought about getting a tattoo at one point in his life, but then he saw an old man whose tattoo was just a messy black splotch on his arm. My father thought that it was ugly and said he wouldn't want something like that on his body. I can relate to these points of view, I see why they occur and I don't wrong anyone for feeling opposed to tattoos. However, I do find error in the idea that a human being, a subculture of human beings no less, can be judged as good or bad based solely on their appearance.

If you ask Marius, he will tell you that I have an interest that could almost border on obsession with tattoos - the designs, the styles, the execution. I, myself, have two small ones currently and have made an appointment with a local artist to have my first larger piece done on my arm in November. I know that this is something which will surely disappoint or sadden certain family members. I don't intend to be disrespectful to them, it simply comes down to the fact that I made a commitment to myself. A commitment to free myself from the part of my personality which above all desires approval from those closest to me.

I rarely, if ever, mention my childhood on this blog, as I think it's important to respect my family by not over-sharing. However, I do think it is appropriate to share that until only recently, I felt terrible, agonizing guilt for not being the child that I felt my parents wanted. This guilt created a certain level of self-hatred which trapped me at every turn. It is a self-defeating prophecy for most people, the desire to fulfill others in the hopes that it will fulfill the self. The older I get, the more I realize that I can claim life and existence as my very own; that my happiness is not dependent on those around me but on myself.

Many years ago, my father shared a piece of writing with me about attitude, and how one's attitude dictates life experience as positive or negative. At the time, I was old enough to understand the concept, but I rejected the word "attitude" due to the negative connotations implied. To this day, I prefer referring to this concept as "choosing your perspective."  The more I learned how to choose a positive perspective, the healthier I became as a person and the more I began to understand who I am and who I want to be.

You may think I am getting off the subject of tattoos but in actuality, this is the root of why I no longer have reservations about decorating my body with the things I find beautiful. I am being tattooed now because at 18 years old, I had the wisdom to realize that I lacked the maturity and foresight to choose tattoos that I could grow old with. At almost 25 years old, I feel confident that I have the self-realization and emotional sophistication necessary to make such a decision. I am content with who I am as a person, and the criticism which may come from others has very little significance. As a respected blogger I follow has put it, tattoos are a filter. Someone who would make negative or hurtful comments based on my appearance is likely not someone I would be interested in having in my life anyway.

Tattoos have always held meaning and significance for me, and I no longer feel shame for that. I find it fascinating that they can tell stories, bare someone's soul, or simply be a piece of art to enjoy. I view them as a form of self expression. 

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