To Tattoo or Not to Tattoo?

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One of the questions I was asked during my responses to the Sunshine Blogger Award was: “Do you have any tattoos?”… and that set me to thinking… yes, I do. One. And it’s rubbish. I wish I’d never got it. It’s right on my shoulder, so it limits my choice of tops and it’s not even particularly well drawn. I got it when I went with a group of friends to Blackpool. Instead of a “Kiss Me Quick” hat or a stick of rock, we all decided, as you do, after a few light, alcoholic beverages to go and have tattoos done. It bloody hurt, (isn’t it funny the false bravery a little alcohol can instil…) but I do remember being quite fascinated by the scab as it came off, in a perfect facsimile of the actual tattoo.

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I’ve been watching a programme called ‘Tattoo Fixers’, where the tattoo artists are very skilled and sympathetic, and cover up the small, hideous tattoos of their customers with larger, more beautiful designs, varying in size and depending on the bravery of the tattoo-ee. The funniest one was where a man had a male chicken tattooed on his – ahem – gentleman sausage. I admired his stoicism, as not a tear left his eye, although he was rather sweaty by the end of the process… A cover design would not be an option for me… As well as being needle phobic, I am also an enormous yellow coward. Even the thought of laser removal frightens me, leaving what looks like, to me, a third degree burn.

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Tattoos have their uses though. Originally, I think, they were used to denote which tribe you came from, which position you held and that sort of thing. It’s quite an ancient practice, dating back to the Iron Age as various tattooed mummies have been found and carbon dated to around that period. I read somewhere that it was Captain James Cook who brought the popularity of tattoos back in the 1700’s as he explored the South Pacific. They went through a phase of being associated with sailors, and therefore somewhat vulgar, but the class distaste for them eventually vanished as people had bigger things to worry about, like World War II.

Not a great chapter in the history of the tattoo. The Nazis used them to number and label the people in concentration camps; for example, a triangle showed you were Jewish, there was a serial number to show which camp you were incarcerated in and a letter ‘Z’ marked you as a Gypsy. Everybody at some point in their lives has come across this information on the television, or in a book, or in a history lesson. I went to Israel when I was younger with my mother, (it’s an amazing country, a real ‘historical’ vibe there) and we visited Yad Vashem. This is a museum that commemorates the sufferings of the Holocaust, and I remember very clearly seeing the piles of old shoes, mattresses stuffed with human hair, lampshades made from tattooed human skin.

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History became life, a person, to me, shortly afterwards. My mother and I were in a supermarket in Tel Aviv, when an older lady behind me began talking to me. My mother apologised and explained we were English. The lady laughed and said:

But your little girl, she is so blonde, I thought she was Polish!”

A sweet and gentle lady, she and my mother chatted and as we said goodbye, her sleeve fell back and I saw her tattoo.

Nowadays tattoos are used as a somewhat more positive form of self-expression, although there is some debate about whether they are in fact a reflection of body issues… I was very taken with one girl’s tattoos, she had a trail of little pawprints across her arm – I noticed as she packed my shopping for me. Indeed, there are some wonderful designs reflecting both the skill of the artists and the determination of the customer…

So there you are. A little bit about one of the less extreme forms of body modification. As for mine – have you guessed what it is yet?! 

IMG_4783 (2)“Don’t even GO there…”

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39 thoughts on “To Tattoo or Not to Tattoo?

  1. I have loads of tatts, but each one has a meaning behind it and involved a lot of time, thought, and design before it was done. To me, that’s what a tatt is. A way of marking something special or a memory. I see so many people who have done like you did and now they regret it! You’re not alone!!

    Personally, I’d go and see a tattooist and ask them about covering it with a different tattoo rather than laser removal. From what I’ve heard the laser hurts more than the tatt and it leaves a scar. At least if it’s covered you’re left with something pretty to look at!

    Maybe chat to friends or look online for reviews of local tattooist and find a good one then go and have a chat. I could recommend a few but they’re all in Swindon and I’m not sure you’re near me!!!!

    Good luck!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, that’s really good advice and somewhat reassuring.. I am glad you have tattoos with intent and meaning because they can be lovely. I shall do as you suggest and research it further…perhaps have a few strong…cups of tea and see if I can summon the courage to get mine sorted! Thank you for reading and commenting
      : )

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Very definitely ‘no tatt’ for me, but I don’t like piercings either. Not even ears, let alone anywhere else. I realise this is terribly old-fashioned on my part, but a big part of the reason is that I am so ridiculously squeamish. Just the thought of either process gives me a mini freak-out! If I was in your position I would probably take the cowards way out and stick a nicotine patch over it! Even though I don’t smoke…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Great thinking! I am actually trying to give up smoking, so that option has definite possibilities! I did have my ears pierced too, although they sort of filled in and I’m too much of a coward to have them re-done…I’m kind of squeamish too!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You are, of course, absolutely right Effie. Definitely a people “thing” you certainly don’t need any beautification. However, the Kennel Club here does sometimes recommend ear tattooing as a means of permanent identification for pedigree dogs…thank you for reading and commenting
      : )

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  3. I’ve had some tattoos removed and some covered. Removing is more painful, more expensive and takes more time. As I actually quickly tattooed the same places with something else, the laser removal was simply silly. As you can probably guess I like tattoos and I consider them to be art. I’ve never thought about the darker side of them, even though I have visited Auschwitz and the photos of people showing their arms with the tattooed number to the guards will always stay in my memory. Well, the right to decide whether we have them or not is to be cherished. Though, it does make me think now…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I wouldn’t go again, though I really think it’s a life-changing experience. Or maybe it’s just me. There was a photo of someone my age (then) and she was a teacher (so was I). When we personalise the experience, when victims have names and stories, we realise how horrible it really was. I think Auschwitz made me promise myself never to be silent if I see someone being hurt. Because ‘not hurting’ is not enough.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been hemming and hawing for years whether to get a tattoo. My biggest problem is trying to find a design that’s (a) meaningful, (b) small yet recognisable, (c) unique, and (d) something with which I will not get bored. If I were ever to get those four elements together, then I’d be stumped as to where to put the blessed thing!

    Would your tattoo be the ubiquitous rose, perhaps?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Haha – I nearly ‘dumped’ my husband (when he was about 21 and I was 17) because he had a tattoo done which he now also regrets as it’s really not great! I think you should pluck up the courage to have one over the top if you don’t like it – it’s a good excuse to get drunk and return to Blackpool! x

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I really enjoyed reading this and learning about some tattoo history! I have just the one ‘MCMLVII’ on my ribs for my mum. She had me when she was 40 and so I want her by my side when I know she’s not going to be in my life as long as some other mothers. Also reminds me to do her proud everyday 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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