The Story Of My Tattoos
Over the years I’ve seen a fair few written and spoken word pieces about how tattoos are no one else’s business, they are for me and me alone. While that might be true for some, for example, those with deeply personal commemorative tattoos, that doesn’t mean all tattoos are personal and must never be acknowledged.
My tattoos either represent an aspect of my past or identity, a place that I’ve been or even just stuff I fancied the look of. It’s probably also quite telling that the vast majority of my tattoos are on my arms, for me their purpose is to be seen. Each arm has a designated purpose:
My left arm looks like its full of doodles, and that’s exactly what it is. On it, you’ll find various small representations like a band logo (which is a flower), the Deathly Hallows sign, a sketchy deer skull, lyrics to my favourite song in elvish font, a beachy penknife, an anagram of the alphabet, the words “ppl suck” and a big jellyfish from a colouring book.
Some of these symbols have a deeper meaning, such as the deer skull which was hand-drawn by an old friend and the Deathly Hallows sign is an obvious nod to my Harry Potter obsession, but it was also stick-n-poked by one of my ex-girlfriends. Others don’t have a story per se, like the penknife and “ppl suck”, they were both Friday the 13th specials (I’m not sure if that’s a thing everywhere but locally on every Friday the 13th tattoo artists prepare flash sheets of small designs especially for the day). As well as the jellyfish, while that didn’t mean anything at the time, I’ve come to think of it as a representation of my care and fascination with the ocean.
My right arm is (at present) an unfinished fictional villain sleeve. I’ve got Voldemort and his younger Tom Riddle self, Captain Hook with a small commemorative Robin Williams as Peter Pan as well as Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, with space to add another villain that I’ve not yet decided on.
I deliberately choose villains that didn’t necessarily start as bad guys (though Voldemort is questionable there), but they made choices that ended up putting them in a place of being the bad guy.
On the whole, this piece is meant as a way of reminding me that morality isn’t always black and white, and oftentimes it’s not an innate understanding of good or evil that defines us, but rather the choices we make (or don’t make).
Other tattoos that I have dotted around my body include:
- the first tattoo I had, aged 14 (yes that’s illegal), of a smiley face on my stomach. No, I don’t regret it. I still love it.
- a circular view (as if looking through a telescope) of a stingray swimming above some seagrass in shallow waters on my ribs, again displaying my fascination with marine life.
- the Berlin Bear on my left calf, a nod to my trip there as well as my love for all things German.
- lastly, but certainly not least, Pikachu and Squirtle on my right calf where I intend to get more Pokemon when money permits. Pokemon was something that my siblings and I bonded over with few arguments. And don’t lie, we all cried during that one scene.
It might not seem obvious, but I also have an overall scheme of having the left side of my body in line or blackout work and the right side of my body in detailed colour. This was something I had planned before I got most of my tattoos and I’m not sure why. Maybe I just like the idea of symmetry.
I do find it interesting that although tattoos are becoming much more socially acceptable in this country (the UK) people are still quite shocked when they see my small 4'11 self covered in them. As well as them typically limiting my professional opportunities since I generally have to cover them up or work somewhere that doesn’t involve face to face interaction with the public. So tattoos, especially visible ones, do have some degree of social consequences.
But hey, my tattoos are no one else’s business, right?