August 6, 2009

Tattoo Story Part 1: Pretentious Gullible White Woman

When I was 34, I decided to get a tattoo. I could pretend it was for some deeply symbolic reason, but in truth I just wanted to do something cool and rebellious.

A tattoo makes a statement. A tattoo says "this person is an individual (or at least one of the thousands of individuals who has a tattoo)". A tattoo also says "this person is an artist and their body is their canvas", which I thought was highly applicable to me, particularly since I shaved my legs and bought that bolder shade of lip gloss.

A tattoo would also show my ability to tolerate pain. Since I didn't get to wear a badge that said "I gave birth without an epidural" or "I've had electrolysis on my eyebrows", I was desperate for the opportunity to let people know how brave I really was.

The problem was, I didn't actually have a design, and I was informed by people in the know that this made me less "cool and rebellious" than "pretentious and sad".

However, none of the traditional feminine tattoos worked for me. Dolphins, for example. I knew they represented freedom and beauty, but I simply did not feel any affinity with aquatic mammals. The same went for butterflies, which are, after all, just metamorphosed caterpillars.

Chinese letters were popular, but I could just see myself getting a tattoo that I thought translated as "Peace and Love", only to find out it actually meant "Pretentious, Gullible White Woman". It may have been true, but it wasn't something I wanted imprinted on my body forever.

My husband's initials were not an option. It's not that I didn't expect to be with him forever. It's just that we're a pretty volatile couple, and I knew that whenever we argued I was going to want to chew my own arm off. For similar reasons, I was loath to tattoo myself with my children's names. It would give them too much power.

So there I was, a woman without a design. Still, maybe I wasn't tragically uncool. Maybe it was all those people who chose something metaphorical and symbolic who were pretentious. Maybe it was best to take the direct approach, and say what I wanted to say all along.

Maybe it was best to get a tattoo that read, in plain English, "Look at me! I am cool!"


  1. So did you not get one?
    That must be why I don't feel the need for one. I had my 2 kids totally drug free, didn't mean to, just turned out that way. LOL :)

  2. Oooh, can't wait for the Big Reveal. Will there be a photo? I certainly hope so.

    Placement must be very important part of the decision-making process, too. Breast? Butt-cheek? Between your toes?

  3. I got one when I was 21...the Ankh, which apparently means eternity or something like that. What does it mean when you have a meaning like that above your arse cheek?

  4. When is part 2! terrified of needles, when they went to give me an epidural for Miss10 they practically had to restrain me. Mind you the anaesthesis walked in and said 'oh good a skinny one, much easier for me and I can get back to dinner' wtf!

  5. Ha! Loving the comments.
    Yes Thea I got one, Part 2 is coming, and Shon, I will disclose all about the pain.
    Placement IS extremely important. Must admit I hadn't considered between my toes though GOD that would be painful (and subtle...)
    And Amanda, no idea as to the meaning of the 'above the arse cheeks', though I suspect it is exceptionally profound and not at all pretentious.
    Stay tuned....

  6. Oooh, I can't wait! Love a bit of suspense. Great story!

    I don't have any tattoos. I am too prone to retrospective fashion disgust (I wish I could look back at photos of me in the past and just accept that I was probably dressed reasonably fashionably, but I can't - I just see UGLY minger every time. Does anyone else have this problem?), and I'm sure my tattoo would fall into the same category and I would hate whatever design I chose after a week!

    It must have been a hard decision Kerry, and I can't wait to see the result! Love tattoos on others, it's just me who can't decide.

  7. Eco-Chic-Mummy: Oh GOD I have retrospective fashion disgust ALL the time. But did I have it with my tattoo? Tune in and see.......
    (sorry, I'm so getting off on this suspense thing, and I KNOW what happened!)

  8. you are toooooo funny.
    same, same...I want a "tough sticker" but can't decide what.
    I guess it's a sign!

  9. Totally hanging out for part 2. Please explain pain to something I can identify with. Like flicking a razor scooter straight into your shin or cutting finger on apple slicer.

    Am too much of a fence sitter to get a tatoo but admire those who do.

    Waiting, waiting.....

  10. I want and am getting one. It is the weirdest little design that has a special significance to me that will sit on my left shoulder. I have a phobia of needles.

    I *will* demand sedation.

  11. LOL, I promise to thoroughly describe the entire procedure with highly identifiable pain references.
    And Rick, I'm not sure tattooists are licenced to provide sedation, but most are located within walking distance from pubs and bottle shops.....

  12. Can't wait to see what it is. I got one when I was 25 (about cough 10 cough years ago) in Blackpool, drunk. And another one when I was 26, in Taylor Square (Sydney) drunk. I've since stopped going anywhere near tattooists while drunk lest I end up like that girl off LA Ink! Or like the guy from Prison Break. Only regret came when my sister chose strapless dresses for her bridesmaids. I didn't look so cool then.

  13. Felicity: I think a twitpic is in order.....!


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