“Does it come off?” my mother asked in a panic.
She licked her forefinger and vigorously scrubbed my tattoo with it. As a child, I remembered her doing that with dirty spots on my face and the rancid smell of her saliva that was left behind on my skin.
“No, Mom, it's real,” I replied. While I was looking over my shoulder at my sister Sheilagh, I noticed she was smirking, making it hard not to laugh.
People get “inked” for various reasons and tattoos aren’t as taboo as they once were, being only for criminals, soldiers and sailors. However, my mom wasn’t buying it.
“What possessed you to do it?” My mom shrieked.
“It’s my insurance policy,” I answered.
My ex said if I got a tattoo, he’d never want to be with me again. I thought, "Perfect, that’s my ticket to freedom!”
Marc was upset five years earlier, when I had my nose pierced. I was coming into my own and he didn't like it one bit. His tyrannical rule over my life and body ended. My weapon of choice was a sparkling plastic jewel. Through it, I reclaimed myself.
The ink job, however, I did after I left him. A few months earlier, I’d photographed a Swallowtail butterfly as it flitted about in our front yard and landed in a bush. In many cultures, it is believed this butterfly species represents grace and freedom of the indescribable human soul, and symbolizes a new start. I didn't realize I was on the verge of change.
My subject’s torn wing reminded me of a war wound,and I wondered if it escaped the clutches of a predator or fought its way out of the cocoon and had a chunk ripped off. I felt a kinship with the gentle but beautifully flawed insect.
I got my second tattoo on my honeymoon in Seattle. That one I covered up a large nasty surgical scar with a variety of colourful butterflies on a vine. They transformed the site of my scar from being repulsive to a work of art.
However, not all tattoos are lovely, nor even chosen.
The tattooing of human trafficking victims has been performed for a millennium. Slave traders carve a series of numbers onto the foreheads of their prey, which both dehumanize and traumatize them. The ugly mark is a way to prevent escape, as they’re quickly spotted.
In the rare event that rescuers free a captive nowadays, a pretty tattoo is often gifted to those unfortunates to hide the ugliness of past horrors. It is a healing modality for them.
There is a plethora of reasons people “ink,” including immortalizing a loved one or a pet on their bodies.
My co-worker has a dolphin tattoo in tribute to her late mother, her “bff,” who collected them for decades. The elderly woman died in a fire and along with it, all her memorabilia were lost. My co-worker finds solace in the leaping marine mammals on her forearm and resolved to start collecting them, like her mom did.
Conversely, tattoo regret happens when a tattoo is botched, or the person is remorseful for getting one. Laser treatment can remove the many layers of ink, but can leave behind an outline of the former imprint (a ghost image). The procedure is expensive, time consuming and painful. Sometimes the site of the former tattoo can become infected, just like when it was initially carved into the skin and it may disfigure.
Some people claim tattoos are a portal to the demonic.
The Bible warns against tattoos in Leviticus 19:28 (Amplified), which says, “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print or tattoo any marks upon you: I am the Lord.”
I got my tattoos in ignorance, as I didn’t know better. Since then I’ve had horrific nightmares.
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honour God with your bodies.
However, when Jesus returns, he'll give me a glorified and perfect body made of light, being ink and wrinkle free,” says 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (New International Version)
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.