Just the title alone, Girly Tattoos, would typically bring images of flowers, butterflies, whimsical fairies, etc. to mind. In my case however, it was a conversation I had with a stranger that reaffirmed my love for the body art I proudly display.
The snarling wolf head is the center tattoo on my shoulder line.
There are additional tattoos to the left and right of the it; each about the same size. My shoulder line cannot be viewed unless I wear a tank top, which displays the three, good-size pieces.
One night, while at a local bar with some friends, a mid-20s male got up from his group of buddies and made his way over to me, as I got up from my stool. For some reason, he felt some obligation to inform me that my tattoos were not “girly tattoos”. If you don’t have any tattoos, it’s hard to explain the offensiveness of his statement. I didn’t take it as a full-on attack, which it could have been, but I didn’t want to be nice, smile and just ignore the comment either. I chose a sarcastic response. Since his buddies were listening and watching on, seeing how this would play out, I wanted to make sure they could hear.
Now, in my experience, the male ego has a macho tendency at times, esp. when they are among friends. He was brave enough, if you will, to actually let me know his thoughts on my body art. I noticed he had a small tribal ban tattoo encircling his bicep. That would do. I looked up at him (I’m only 5’2″ and he was much taller), smiled, tilted my head and said, “ooooh…I’m sorry. Are you upset because my tattoos are bigger than yours?”
That was sufficient. It earned the appropriate “OOOOOOOOOHs” from this buddies, as they brought closed fists to their mouths and laughed. Guys and size. Not sure what it is, but I knew a comparison would work in my favor. The guy who approached me really didn’t have much to say. I ended our interaction with, “I wasn’t aware I was supposed to get certain tattoos based on my gender. I suggest you don’t approach anyone else regarding their tattoo choices. It could end badly for you.” With that I walked away and he returned to his table; tale tucked between his legs in defeat.
Had this guy been respectful when he approached me and not been trying to show off, he would have learned more about my not-so-girly tattoos. While my shoulder pieces hold special meaning for me, I didn’t get them for a fashion statement or to be a rebel. Most people are generally more than happy to talk about their ink and its meaning.
Tattoos hold special meaning for a lot of people. I grew up with my dad getting tattoos at local fairs and carnivals. Yes, that was quite awhile ago. My mother HATED tattoos. She would take us kids on the rides and when we were done, my dad had a new tattoo. I never, ever, dreamed I have one, let alone 10 (and counting) tattoos on my body.
While I don’t take pain well, tattoos have taken on an entirely new meaning for me. When my younger sister passed away from breast cancer, I knew I would be getting a memorial tattoo. In fact, I knew I would be getting it before she passed, as I was coming to grips with the terminal aspect of her disease. What shocked me, was my mother offered to pay for it. The picture I had chosen had come to represent my sister and my mother was completely on board. WOW! Times had changed.
The other tattoos I have represent significant times in my life. Sadly, and proudly, I have three memorial tattoos. My dad’s on my right calf, my mother’s on my right forearm and my sister’s above my left bicep. Additionally, I added a breast cancer ribbon to the inside of my left wrist. While some people don’t understand tattoos, I used my memorial tattoos in my stages of grieving. It helped me through. I was closer to my mother and sister, which is why their tattoos are on my arm. I can look at either arm, at any time, and see “them. The other tattoos represent significant times and/or meanings in my life.
I know people who get tattoos just to have them. I know people who get them as the tattoos are attached to their culture and heritage or for religious reasons. I respect their decisions in how they adorn their bodies. I even respect those who choose not to display art via use their body as a canvas. All I ask in return is for the same respect.