I got my first tattoo when I was still in high school. I was 16 years old and, really, just wanted one. My mom was always encouraging my creativity; if she had any issues about me wanting one so young…she never let me know. So there we go, she signed for me and I left with a tattoo on my back. Even though it is covered by a different tattoo now, I remember feeling more complete. This was a way of expressing myself that I felt comfortable and confident with. It felt like me.
When I was 16/17 I started to get into a scene of music where people were straight edge (no drinking/drugs), vegan/vegetarian and tattoos were a large part of this culture. When I first started going, there was this girl Shannon. She was a bit older than me, but she was the first girl I really ever saw that had tons of visible tattoos. She had her arms, legs and chest done that were in plain sight and I remember thinking that she was the coolest and most beautiful girl I had ever seen. Over time I got to know her and she was kind and warm and we still keep in touch to this day.
This story might seem meaningless, but it was the first time I really saw lots of people with lots of tattoos. As soon as I saw this, I knew I wasn’t weird. I knew that I belonged. I knew that me wanting to belong to this tattoo culture was ok, even though not many of my other friends had tons of tattoos or anything. I guess in that way I always felt like an outsider. The girl with lots of tattoos that listened to weird music no one understood.
By the time I graduated high school I had two tattoos: my back and forearm. From there I got more, here and there; some with meaning, some with no meaning. I had many piercings, as well, all of which are out now. Thankfully my ears that were stretched to an inch have gone down to a relatively small hole.
I also think this is why I love makeup so much.
Now in my 30s, my tattoos are my skin. I don’t even see them as anything other than me. Even the bad ones, they are still me! They still tell a story.
Some bind me to people that have been close to me in my life, some are in memory of dear loved ones that I struggled with the loss of and some are truly just for aesthetics.
I truly identify as being a tattooed person. Once I was in a wedding and my friend asked me to cover my tattoos. I did out of respect for her, her preference and our friendship, but I honestly did not feel like me the entire day. That was one time where I can honestly say I did not feel comfortable in my own skin.
I know, I know. What on earth is sparking this random deep thought blog post?
I recently watched this mini-documentary where Grace Neutral went to South Korea to explore their beauty scene. South Korea has one of the top beauty markets in the world. One of the segments of the documentary focused on tattoos and how it is illegal to be a tattooer. Illegal! It just made me think a lot, I highly recommend you watch it.
This is getting rather long, so I will post a part two that includes my thoughts on the documentary. More to come!