I have a love-hate relationship with it, but lately, I’ve been entertaining the notion of decorating my body. Suddenly I find myself seriously considering getting a tattoo. Almost everyone I know between ages 20 and 40 has one, but I am a generation removed from them.
When in my thirties I decided— OK, was dared to get a second piercing in my left earlobe I felt bold and daring. Of course, the question is bigger than do I want a tattoo. It is, does my body merit decoration?
Daily I’m exposed to images and exhortations to embrace my body today, just as it is. And doing that is challenging. There was a time when I could list the parts of my body I considered beautiful, but that list has diminished over the years. What would happen if I decided to embellish a small piece of it? I have struggled with my looks for as long as I can remember. I doubt a tattoo would liberate me from that struggle, but I’m also aware I’m the only one who would judge me harshly enough to wonder ‘why is she drawing attention to herself ‘?
This all started a few weeks ago when a friend showed up with a beautiful line drawing of a poppy along her forearm. No color, just the delicate outline, so subtle, so sophisticated, I wanted one. Well, not a poppy, and not the length of my forearm, but something small, on the inside of my right wrist. My wrist is still presentable. It has no odd marks, isn’t misshapen and the skin there is still creamy and clear.
At the moment I’m imagining a whisk. A knife seems a bit sinister, and when I was talking about it with my daughter she suggested I choose my favorite cooking tool, but I think my corn stripper would make an odd tattoo. I could easily head over to the place my friend got hers; it’s near where I live. It wouldn’t take long, or be outrageously expensive; easy peasy, amiright? But still, I waver.
Years ago I watched Kathryn Shultz’s TED talk about regret. She got a tattoo after years of thought and deliberation, and immediately regretted her decision. I can see that same thing happening to me. This tattoo would be visible to everyone, almost all the time, but there’s nowhere else on my body I care to fancy up and if I get one, I want to be able to see it. To remind me why it’s there, so my shoulder blades are out.
I want to remember I am worthy; worthy of embellishment and decoration. A tattoo is an invitation to look at me, albeit a small part of me. I am aware that tattoos mean different things to people. Where I am concerned about drawing attention to myself, I can imagine that for others it is a barrier to hide behind, to camouflage their skin or cover their nakedness. There are probably plenty of people who don’t give this decision much thought at all. Clearly, I’m not one of those people.
It does strike me as ironic that I am reluctant to add a permanent decoration when I daily wear earrings, makeup, and dress to look my best. I don’t skulk and hide, wear dark, oversized clothing or keep my hair in my face. I try to face the world fully decorated and smelling nice. Would a small tattoo impact that? Not to you, but to me it would be huge, if not literally, then figuratively. It would be a statement, a whisper, a mumble and a shout. To you it would be a quiet, perhaps imperceptible action, to me, it would be as loud as the crunch of Fritos is in your own head.
Will I, won’t I? Has writing this moved me closer to a decision? Will this piece elicit a flurry of comments and votes yeah or nay? One day soon I’ll wake up having made a decision. Maybe I already have.