I Don’t Think I’ll Get a Tattoo #SOL2022 16/31

Glenda Funk replied kindly and enthusiastically to my Slice on day 12, joined in the “unladylike” behaviour and asked me if I was going to get a tattoo. I’ll admit that I’ve imagined getting one, but haven’t really been willing to ink anything other than paper. Something about it makes me feel uneasy, like I’m invading some time-space continuum, some sociological and cultural territory that is not mine.

I’ve admired many young women with works of art on their shoulders, arms, or backs. A few older women too, and wonder if they view this adornment as personal expression. Most of these women are beautiful, young, and vibrant, but I’m not young and I feel my vitality comes from another place. (At least, that’s the excuse I tell myself.) Alex Elle’s Instagram post rang true today. “You can’t force longevity. Everything and everyone has a time and a place. Honour the season you’re in.” Tattoos are not in my season.

But, this is not to say that I don’t try to stay current and fashionable because I colour the grey hairs and wear high top sneakers which are far more comfortable than heels (saying nothing about the oppressive side of fashion). I’m not about a resistance to fashion or popular culture, but another feeling I can’t shake. Something else about tattoos haunts me.

Maybe it comes from my reading life. Nearly four years ago, I started selecting more diverse voices, to listen to Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers. My reading life has taken me far from Western ideas, to ways of being that are not my own. Valarie Kaur showed me the wisdom of Sikhism, Adrienne Coddett showed me the beauty of Black culture, and Alathea Arnuquq-Baril showed me the meaning of Inuit tattoos. These cultures, oppressed by colonialism, white supremacy, and stripped of many customs persist while the dominant culture appropriates their clothing and hairstyles. I don’t think I’ll get a tattoo because it’s my own form of limited resistance or more hopefully, being a witness who honours a culture that is not my own.

But, there are more reasons. And I won’t deny that maybe I’m too indecisive. Maybe I’m wracked with my own self doubt, but I do know this. Words change, symbols change, and we change. At my school, we pulled many books from the shelves because of racist and anti Indigenous words. In my city, since the “Freedom Convoy”, the Canadian flag has taken on a new symbolic meaning. And, I’m surprised by how much I have changed lately. I am not who I was three years ago.

I love the word tattoo, the way it taps in your mouth when spoken, the double meaning of a mark and a rhythmic drum beat in time. I will listen and observe, witness and write, but I don’t think I’ll get a tattoo. At least, not today.

10 thoughts on “I Don’t Think I’ll Get a Tattoo #SOL2022 16/31

  1. This is such an interesting post. I have been on the fence about getting a tattoo for years, but then I always chicken out!

    “You can’t force longevity. Everything and everyone has a time and a place. Honour the season you’re in.” What a powerful quote! Thank you for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy to help you think. I don’t have any tattoos, unless you count my new eyebrows. Should I? But after reading your Say 12 post I am tempted to get “unladylike” inked on my body. But where? I wear clothes that cover my skin, at least the parts offers get tattooed. I also remember reading about Native Cultures’ inking traditions and in some level that influenced me, too. I’ve left the tattooing up to my sons, especially the youngest one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely don’t count the eyebrows and they are beautiful by the way☺️
      That’s the other part I didn’t consider with tattoos – where would it go? I didn’t even consider this😂


  3. I appreciate you sharing your deliberations on this topic. It’s a possibility I’ve considered, too, though not nearly with this much depth so far. I may do it with a dear friend when we finally meet in person, a micro tattoo as testament to our bond. But when that might actually happen is in the stars. In the meantime maybe I’ll look more closely at the aspects you’ve named here. Time changes us and what we think we want. I guess I’ll wait and see.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The last paragraph for me; and bringing to attention the various meanings of tattoos is sitting with me. Not only that, the sexism that brings tattoos in my mind (I have a “tramp stamp” — which is when you have a tattoo on your lower back). The symbol and meaning of this tattoo are long and deep; but the cultural appropriation is something I did not consider when I got it 20 years ago. Thank you. You write with such depth and clarity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m really conscious of female criticism and that you know your tattoo is referred to as a “tramp stamp” reminds me of the power of patriarchy and female shaming. Maybe you could reclaim it, rename it? Champ stamp? Mark of endurance?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mark of endurance in this case for sure — because that’s what it represents. Also hope (it is literally an outline of a star, because stars and the concept of stars, got me through a lot). But yeah — there is a lot there around the whole experience of getting the tattoo (for me) as well…male tattoo artist. Longer story.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m with you! You’ve articulated many of the reasons I am hesitant about tattoos. I’m with Sherri, too. My sisters and I have considered a tattoo to commemorate our relationship. Still… my understanding of the world changes and changes; it’s tough to choose a symbol that permanent.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I always struggle with the permanence. I am ever changing in my tastes! I love this quote- “You can’t force longevity. Everything and everyone has a time and a place. Honour the season you’re in.”

    Liked by 1 person

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