What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word tattoo? Do you think biker? Gang? Unemployed? Well growing up that’s what I hear, that tattoo’s were reserved for “dirty people”. Now I understand tattoo’s haven’t always had the best rap, until recently so I don’t fault anyone for having those ideas placed in my head. I mean I am someone daughter for crying out loud. Of course my parents didn’t want to see their precious angel covered in tattoo’s, but as I got older I started to understand the meaning behind why people are so addicted to getting them.
I went under the needle for the first time when I was eighteen, young, dumb, and stupid. I went to a tattoo shop over the summer with a high school friend of mine and got a four-leaf clover tattooed on the left side of my pelvis. It didn’t have any meaning other than the fact that I am Irish and Scottish and it looked cool. That first tattoo cost me $100, which now I understand was way to much money to pay for something no bigger then a silver dollar, but it’s apart of me and I’ve grown to love it. My next tattoo wouldn’t be till five years later, I got a stitched heart in red and black with the words famiglia inside it. I got this tattoo with a friend of mine, I have since had that tattoo covered up, by a beautiful water colored owl.
The reason I had my tattoo covered up was due to a falling out with that friend and the owl was there to remind me to always be wise about my decisions in life. My next tattoo was not one of happiness. It is a black rose with the number thirteen inside it. I received this the day I lost my first baby, Friday April 13th, 2018. I was devastated and I needed something to block out my pain. I needed something to remind me that my baby was real and was mine. It is by far my favorite tattoo I have.
You see, I am not a “dirty person”, I am not in a gang, and I am not a biker, I am married and employed. I own a home and I drive an SUV. I am defined more by my actions then my tattoos. My tattoo’s tell my story, my pain, my happiness and for many people this is a type of therapy. I’ve gone with people to get tattoo’s to remember a lost loved one and tattoo’s to help a rape survivor reclaim her body. Tattoo’s aren’t meant for bad people. they are there to help people express how they feel in a way that helps them grow. I look back on all my tattoo’s and remember the lesson’s I’ve learned. They can help someone close a chapter of their life and help them move on.
Tattoo’s can be painful and are permanent, not to mention expensive pieces of art. So trust me when I say getting a tattoo isn’t just a spur of the moment idea, It’s a life altering one. We save and wait months to get a tattoo, we research artists and go to consultations. We pay deposits, and buy all the things we need to help heal and protect our artwork. Not to mention researching the tattoo show to make sure they are licensed in the stated and they have passed their blood born pathogens tests.
We don’t go into this lightly and for many of us our tattoo artist is like our therapist. They see our happiness and our pain and they listen to us, they share an understanding. They work so hard to make us feel comfortable and safe. We sit for hours with artists as they painstakingly get every detail and line perfect. This is our therapy, this is what helps us heal and move on so we can close that chapter of our lives and start a new one.
So if you’re not into tattoo’s I understand and I don’t judge you for that, but I hope instead of seeing a “dirty person” I hope you see the warrior behind it all. I hope you see the woman who’s lost her babies and still fights the good fight, or the veteran honoring his service to this country, or the rape survivor who bravely says to the face of her attackers “this is my body and I am taking back whats mine”. My body is a temple and I’m just painting the walls.
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