Yesterday, I racked my tattoo count up to twenty and I am extremely pleased. Since my 18th birthday, I’ve been regularly adding more and more to my body. A lot of people have those classic questions, “What do they mean? How will they look when you’re 80? What will your children think of them?” These questions always amuse me.
For one, I really don’t think tattoos need to mean anything, although many of mine do. Although many of my tattoos are symbolic to me, I’ve definitely got some tattoos purely because I think they’re pretty or silly. As for the question of how my tattoos will look 57 years from now…honestly, they’ll look just as gross as everything else. In fact, I’ll probably be a dang cool grandma. Regarding my children, I’m not going to raise them to be judgmental, so my tattoos shouldn’t bother them.
Those are my thoughts on those matters.
A Brief Background On Tattoos
Ötzi the Iceman, who was discovered by two hikers in 1991 and who died circa 3250 BC, had 61 tattoos on his body. His body is the oldest known record of humans decorating their skin with tattoos. Although Ötzi’s body was found around the border of Austria and Italy, other tattooed human remains from similar ancient eras were discovered in Russia, China, Nubia, and Egypt. These tattoos were mostly lines and dots, so obviously there’s been a lot of evolution from those to the typical cactus or infinity sign tattoo that we see today.
As time passed, we saw bans on tattoos from historic emperors, Russian soldiers getting finger tattoos in the year 900, maritime tattoos as marks of naval accomplishment, and to the 16th century Japanese Yakuza getting full-body tats. From artistic and religious decorations to symbols of accomplishment to the identification of criminals, tattoos have always played a powerful part in history.
Seeing how tattoos have evolved over the century, and where they made their first appearance thousands of years ago, is incredibly interesting to me. Knowing this makes me feel like I have a piece of anthropological history on my body. Sometimes I even refer to myself (quite humbly, I might add) as a walking art gallery, especially because I’ve got some Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat tattoos.
But at the end of the day, I get tattoos only for myself. It’s one of the few things that I can control about my physical appearance. My tattoos make me more confident in my skin, they make me feel better about myself, and they make me feel prettier. After every new tattoo, I get a “tattoo high” that can last up to a month. I walk around with short sleeves and am excited to show them off.
My tattoos are an expression of my passions, sexuality, relationships, personal history, and interests. If someone let me, there are some tattoos on my body that I could rant about for thirty minutes. My whole life, I’ve struggled with insecurity about how I look and for once, I feel like I can actually do something about it.