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Decorating My Body

decorating my bodyI 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. 

decorating my body

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. 


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  • August 9, 2017 - 10:21 pm

    Margaret - Full disclosure: I have no tattoos, but have discussed them many times with my kids. They had their reasons for their tattoos. Your reason strikes me as uplifting and beautiful. Whether or not you choose to do it, I am positive that you are worthy of decoration.
    From a writing standpoint, this is one of your best. Several lines stood out for me. “What would happen if I decided to embellish a small piece of it?” “But still I waver.” “A tattoo is an invitation to look at me…” Lovely piece.ReplyCancel

    • August 10, 2017 - 6:53 am - Margaret, thanks so much! ReplyCancel

  • August 10, 2017 - 12:30 am

    kalpana solsi - Hindus pierce their babies’s earlobes at birth. It is a custom. Some communities have permanent tattos on their bodies mostly of their Gods, or dots or lines. I have never had a tatto in my life and never never thought of getting one. maybe this post will shift my thinking gear.ReplyCancel

    • August 10, 2017 - 6:54 am - Kalpana, In have surprised myself with this! ReplyCancel

  • August 10, 2017 - 10:12 am

    Sara - Go for it!As I am growing older, I am thinking of trying things I have so far been only thinking about.Loved your writing-the crunch of Fritos is going to stay in my head:)ReplyCancel

  • August 10, 2017 - 12:52 pm

    Risa - I have a beautiful bluebird of happiness tattoo. It’s where I can see it (opposite my appendectomy scar!) to remind me every day that the possibility of happiness is always with me. I got mine when my daughter got one (Mommy and Me tattoos?), and we had a nice bonding experience over the pain! I’m 65, got my bluebird 2 years ago. No regrets!ReplyCancel

  • August 10, 2017 - 1:35 pm

    Emgee - I like this piece! My wife loves getting tattoos, and I still have yet to get one of my own. Many of your thoughts are ones I’ve entertained myself!

    I will say – the idea of getting a whisk tattoo as a personal symbol sounds awesome. Perhaps it could be a reminder of whipping your life into shape? Stirring yourself into action? I can’t help but think of the symbolism behind a whisk now!ReplyCancel

  • August 10, 2017 - 2:50 pm

    Lisa @ The Meaning of Me - Personally, I have no desire to tattoo any part of me for any reason. I just don’t understand the attraction, but if people enjoy it, so be it. This is a great little peek inside the decision process. Loved this line – “…but I think my corn stripper would make an odd tattoo.” Laughed right out loud.
    Good luck with your decision!ReplyCancel

  • August 10, 2017 - 3:14 pm

    Amy - I enjoyed following along in your thought processes; you had good premises for both pros and cons. I like the acknowledgment that it’s really about the act of making decisions and perhaps the decision has actually already been made. I think we can be led astray by waiting for a good feeling to accompany a decision. Of course, in terms of tattoos, maybe it’s reasonable to expect a good feeling beforehand. Always love reading your stuff.ReplyCancel

    • August 10, 2017 - 4:45 pm - Thanks so much Amy!ReplyCancel

  • August 11, 2017 - 7:05 am

    Michelle Longo - I have 5 tattoos and cannot wait to get more. I work in a stuffy office, so I have to be careful with how bold I am (mine are foot, lower quadrant of my back, shoulder, and pelvis), but someday I’m hoping to have many visible ones on my arms. I’m always pro-tattoo and I love your idea of a whisk. If you do it, I want to hear about it! Regarding the writing, this flowed well and had a stream-of-consciousness feel while still maintaining good writing. It’s lyrical. Well done.ReplyCancel

    • August 11, 2017 - 7:11 am - Thanks Michelle. If I do get it I’m sure I’ll be writing about it.ReplyCancel

  • August 13, 2017 - 2:12 pm

    Meghan Sara - I vote YAY! Not everyone has regret with their tattoos. I’ve gotten big ones in very visible places and I don’t regret it at all. I’d rather regret NOT doing it, you know? And you are SO WORTHY of decoration! Go get yours!ReplyCancel

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