By Emma Raho – Staff Writer
Since the days of sitting around in the school cafeteria discussing what tattoos we may or may not get when we turned 18 there has always been an underlying feeling that your chosen design should have a deeper meaning and there had to be a multitude of reasons behind getting a particular tattoo. There were bonus points if you drew it yourself, half a point if it was drawn for you by someone, like, really deep and spiritual maaan. In short, in the culture of the time, you needed to justify your reasons for doing something so permanent to your body.
I’m sure we’ve all heard something along the lines of “I got this a year ago because my great grandmother was a space monkey and my grandfather was in Black Sabbath that’s why I’ve got this primate/guitar hybrid all down my back”. Look, there are tattoos that have super deep meaning and that’s awesome but despite what you’ve heard it’s actually ok to see it, want it, and get it for no other reason than you think it’s cool.
My first ever tattoo was at the ripe old age of 16 and a half at a place chosen simply for their lax attitude to checking ID. Like most teenage girls in the 90’s it was a simple choice between a rose, a butterfly or a Japanese symbol. I opted for the latter. Due to the permanent nature of tattoos I still have the symbol for woman (confirmed by various independent sources after the fact) perched on my right shoulder. I’ve had a love hate relationship with it over the years but there is a very good reason I’ve decided to keep it there in all it’s patchy, faded glory.
Shit as it is (and it really is shit) it is reminder of a specific moment in time. I go right back the dingy waiting room, the sound of the machine, the nervous feeling in my tummy, the feeling of sharp steel on flesh. The memory is far more visceral than any photograph could ever be. I was there with my teenage bestie, both of us in the limbo between being an adult and being a child. I was wearing a Korn T-shirt and combat pants, she was in all black and sporting a perfectly blow dried fringe. I was upping the anti from last years nose ring in the days when they were still an act of rebellion. The guy who was in before me came out looking a bit green but I couldn’t work out what all the fuss was about. The same goes for every other tattoo on my body. Periods of my life I would have forgotten, forever etched into me.
So never feel bad about getting a flash tattoo, or a pop culture tattoo or a tattoo because you saw it, wanted it and got it. Sure people will be at you with the time weary warnings – “everyone has them these days” Ok, well let’s not worry about what everyone else is doing. “You’ll get sick of them in the end” I guess like I get sick of having fingers or wearing pants right?. “Well it will sag when you’re older, you’ll regret it!” but guess what, the rest of your skin will also be sagging and it will be a permanent reminder of your youth which sounds pretty good to me.