I find it fascinating that in over two years of blogging, primarily about my small daughter, my third most popular post of all time is "On Choosing to be Tattooed." My guess is that a great number of people are curious about my choice to become heavily tattooed and are interested in my reasons for doing so. Tattoos are far more widely accepted in our society than ever before. No longer only for bikers, sailors and carnival attractions; statistics state that currently, one in five Americans has a tattoo. A meaningful phrase on the wrist, or a symbol on the ankle are widely worn by modern women. However, a woman with a large tattoos is still very rare and most often still viewed as taboo.
I had expected to receive numerous glares or comments such as "how could you do that to your body?" I can't even count how many people have come up to me asking who made my tattoos and proclaiming how beautiful and detailed they are. I will never forget the first comment that a stranger made to me in public. On a day trip into Luxembourg City, Marius, Iris and I were sitting on a patio with some friends, having a beer and chatting. An older woman, dressed very well with white hair and easily in her 70's, passed close by and said directed to me, "votre décoration est très chic. (Your decoration is very chic.)" Caught by surprise, I mumbled a, "merci madame," and proceeded to blush furiously with unexpected delight.
To share a bit more about why my tattoos are so meaningful to me, I'll share the symbolism behind one of them - the one which is yet unfinished and needs color. This piece is a reference to a Cherokee story called The Wolves Within, first shared with me by my grandmother when I was a teenager.
|My unfinished thigh piece by artist Sebastian Brade - Germany.|
The old wolf on my leg symbolizes the angry wolf, a part of my life full of pain and rage. He wears an eyepiece to symbolize that his way of thinking is flawed. The woman represents the positive wolf of benevolence and empathy. She has grown in character to take human form. She silences the old wolf with her hand as he glares up at her, just as I silence the negativity in my past. However, the woman also wears a sheep's head, or "sheep's clothing." This is a purposeful symbol for questioning and examining my own behavior, motivations and choices. The tattoo represents that idea that I must remember to consider what emotions and pathways I give power to in my life.
While I have received only positive feedback from strangers and friends, I know that many members of my family do not understand why I would ever be tattooed and may even resent me for doing so. In fact, the only negativity I have received was during a recent phone call with my aunt, who told me I was "going to regret doing that when I'm older." Since I respect my aunt, regardless of her occasionally contrasting opinions, I merely responded with "mmhm" and waited for her to move on.
While her comments were a bit hurtful, unsolicited as they were, they certainly do nothing to sway my appreciation for tattooing. After spending countless years hating my body and doing irreparable damage to it, I can say that I find my body beautiful. I am proud of the fact that I am no longer afraid to be myself. I put the things that I love on my body, and each piece has very deep personal meaning. The ink may fade and distort with age, but the representation of important things in my life will always remain.