When I was a child, I thought that tattoos were gross and weird and I could not ever imagine wanting or having one. As I got to high school and made “friends” with a group of girls who were into tattoos (at the grand old age of 13…) I began to quite like the idea, but felt far too uncool to have one. Like travelling, it just didn’t feel like something I would associate with myself. I remember the exact moment I decided I could, and would, like to have a tattoo. I had gone swimming with my best friend. I say swimming, I could still only doggy paddle at this point, but it was a nice day out. She explained that she would love a rainbow tattoo over her hip, and, rainbows being an important symbol of our friendship at this time, I decided I would quite like that too. Being the wonderful friend that she was, she did not complain that I was copying her, but encouraged me to get a matching tattoo. I, being the wonderful friend that I was, surprised her on her 18th birthday with the promise of paying for us to get matching tattoos. We had them designed, and were very particular on the colours, we wanted them quite small too, because we were a little afraid of committing something too big to our bodies. We have a weird relationship with the Busted song ‘Meet you There’ (even if I explained it, it wouldn’t make sense, so just accept that it’s one of Our Songs) and decided we could get half a lyric each other our tattoos. So, to this day, she has ‘Where’s the world that doesn’t care?” and I have “Maybe I could meet you there” over a beautiful little rainbow on our hip. Ruth went first and I nervously asked whether it hurt. I was replied to with a rather sarcastic “No, it was like a unicorn licking it on”. I am quite notorious for being a Grade A wimp, but my stubbornness is even fiercer, so although it felt like someone was drilling into my hip bone, I barely let myself react. Although it was itchy and painful for a while, and no one but my boyfriend and Ruth would really see it on the regular, I was so proud of it.
Then I caught the bug.
My next tattoo were the lyrics “Viva La Vie Boheme” from the musical Rent. It means ‘Live the Bohemian Life’ and at the time, it meant a lot to me to remember that sentiment. As Moulin Rouge teaches us, Bohemia stands for ‘Freedom, Truth, Beauty and Love’ and is about appreciating the things you have, when you really have nothing. I got this tattoo after I had broken up with my long term boyfriend and was having to restart my life over. It isn’t the best done tattoo, truth be told, and one day I would like to get it re-done, but I don’t regret it. I wrote the words on my wrist every day for a full summer, it made sense to get it more permanent.
Tattoos 3 and 4 came at the same time. I’m a very spontaneous person, and although I had been planning these in my head for ages, it wasn’t until I was sat having lunch with some friends that I decided This Exact Minute was the perfect time to go and get them done! The first tattoo this time, was on my ribs and was another lyric from Rent, this time the words ‘Give in to love, or live in fear’. I can understand why some people would think getting a lyric from a musical (let alone two!) is a bad life choice but I can not explain my love for Rent, the whole philosophy is something I try to live my life by and it has never steered me wrong. The lyrics were a reminder to thing positive about love, despite being hurt. To ensure I wasn’t too scared to let myself fall in love again after I had had my heart broken. It has served as really great advice.
The fourth was the Deathly Hallows symbol from Harry Potter. Harry Potter books have always been there for me when my life has been a bit rocky and I am such a huge fan, that I am not even ashamed of this! In Peterborough, people rarely noticed it, and if they did, they would ask if it was Illuminati symbol. In University however, it was a great conversation starter and is actually responsible for meeting some of my closest friends.
I didn’t get another tattoo until the Christmas of my first year at university. I had a bit of extra Christmas money and text my Nanna saying ‘Would it be bad if I got a tattoo today?’, and she replied ‘Of course not! Treat yourself!’, so I did. I ended up bumping into an ex-boyfriend from high school that I was still good friends with and so he decided to come with me. I got a feather on my foot as a bit of a homage to my university degree. I spent an incredible amount of time barefoot for dance, and so it made sense to try and make my feet look at least a little more interesting. I also think it says a lot about freedom, and being ‘light’.
My most recent tattoo, was summer a few years ago and is a Banksy-style image (my first proper picture-based tattoo – I just love words too much!) of a little girl holding a balloon. I think it is beautiful, and I think it was nice tattoo to get as I begin the scary process of growing up, to remember the ever-curious child inside. As you can see, all of my tattoos have a story and a meaning. I find it weirdly difficult, even as an over-sharer, to explain what my tattoos ‘mean’ to people who ask. They are all a bit sentimental and soppy and for some reason the stories do not tend to come out of my mouth overly well. This makes people think that they are not very well thought out, when really they have probably had months of thought go into them!
I would like some more tattoos and I have a few ideas swimming around my head. However, in my semi-sensible state, I have come to realise that, at least right now, there are more important things to spend my hard earned pennies on. I certainly don’t think I have out-grown them, and when I have a nice amount of disposable income, expect an update to this post!