I've always been considered pretty "normal" other than a few minor quirks. And if you saw me walking down the street, you wouldn't even notice my oddities.
See? I seem pretty mundane, other than that goofy smile. But what you can't tell from this picture, because I cleverly cropped it out (and you usually wouldn't see it anyway because I wear long pants most days), is I have a small-ish tattoo on my left leg. I don't really consider it or the other three oddities, but some people do, which is fine. However, what I don't like is judgement.
I know I shouldn't take what people say on Facebook seriously, but until yesterday, I'd never felt judged for something as silly as the way I look or dress (minus the skinny thing). I know people have probably silently wondered why I don't wear a lot of make-up or why I wear so many cardigans, and I know men have judged me and objectified me, but I guess I chalk that up to the way life is right now. But seeing a person update Facebook with remarks about women with tattoos being trashy and tacky? It cut me to the core. Feeling that judgement for the first time hurt like hell, especially since my tattoos are far from "tacky." I'm certainly not a trashy person either. I'm an educator with typically well-hidden, meaningful tattoos. Heck, I even have a master's degree. I certainly don't fit the tattoo stereotype.
I only recently delved into the tattoo world, and so far I've learned a lot. Lesson number one (which I already knew, but you might not know), that dude covered in tattoos that you're silently or maybe vocally but very rudely judging, might be intelligent. In fact, he probably has a college degree!
Lesson number two... tattoos are art-- they take skill to create, and just like any other form of art, they are a window into a person's soul. In fact, tattoos are unique in that they give you insight into two people, the person getting the tattoo and the tattoo artist. I have two on my upper to middle back, and this is my vision created by another person. That's pretty deep.
The first is my Grandma's signature. As literally as it can get for a tattoo. Losing my Grandma Darling was one of the most difficult times in my life. All my life, I've taken pride in being a "Darling." We are a strong people. We've overcome a lot in life; we never give up; and we are stubbornly independent. So after losing the person who, to me, epitomized that so well... it's hard to put into words... So at 26, after months of mulling over getting a tattoo, what to get, where to get it, I walked into a highly recommended tattoo parlor with the last birthday card my Grandma sent me. And now I'm forever a Darling. She will always have my back.
Losing my Grandma was tough. It's been two years (I think... I try not to count), and still struggle to write about it. I'm rolling my eyes at myself right now because my brain has gone to mush! Anywho. I felt like I needed another, something that honored my other Grandma. This one piece of artwork on my back encompasses so much meaning. It's about my Grandma Martin, my Grandma Darling, remaining calm even when times are tough. So the lesson is, to you it may look like a stupid fucking piece of lavender drawn on my back, but to me it's a reminder of important people, important memories and ideals. And I know I shouldn't need anything to hold on to any of that. But to me, it's like hanging on to someone's ashes or whatever makes losing a person easier for you.
Of course not all my tattoos are or will be about honoring those I've lost. But they will always be unique and incredibly special. My last tattoo honors a very special lady in my life, Maggie. She's "just" a cat, but she's really more than that, at least to me. It's surprising how much a cat can change your life. Maggie was the "person" I came home to while I attended graduate school six hours away from my husband. And I swear if it weren't for her (and video chatting with Jeff every single night), I would not have survived school. If you've never tried grad school, that may not make sense, but if you have... you know how important companionship and support can be, even if it's from a cat.
So the next time you think about judging someone with a tattoo, pause for a moment before you say anything. Maybe that time I didn't cover my tattoos while wearing a dress didn't make me look tacky or trashy. My tattoos don't define me, but they are a part of me. They even represent my thought process because I thought and thought and maybe over-thought about the size, the location, the meaning, more meaning, the color. Hell, recently I conducted a vast Internet search that took days just so I could figure out the name of a flower I like and if its name and meaning related to the meaning I want a future tattoo to convey. I even went breed specific! It turns out to be more than perfect.
So if you still think I look trashy... well, you're just a mean person. I don't expect people to like my tattoos. But trashy? Really? I wish you'd have met my Grandma...
At least I know my tattoos are mom approved (which, if you know my mom, is a big deal), and I know Grandma Darling is with me. She might be thinking, "I don't know why you need those tattoos or why you need to wear my necklace almost everyday, but if it makes you feel better that's all that matters."