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Old 07-06-2005, 09:34 PM
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Who is your tattoo for?


A long time ago, on a message board far, far away, I had a conversation with someone about tattoos: I was asked why I felt the need to broadcast information about myself to anyone who happened to see one or both of my tattoos. I replied that my tats weren't for anyone but me, and that, in fact, one of them is almost always covered. I said something about them being reminders for myself about what's important: the G-clef on my ankle reminds me that music is my heart and soul (handy when my job gets stressful), and the wolf on my upper arm reminds me to stay grounded spiritually (handy just about all of the time). But then I was asked an excellent question: why do I need permanent, visable reminders of things that I claim are so intrinsic to my being? I think the exchange ended with me saying something like, "Huh. I don't know." Several years later I still think about this question from time to time, and I still don't have an answer.

I know that I didn't get my tattoos in order to show them off; they are not for other people. As mentioned, the wolf is hardly ever visible, and the G-clef is seen more often but I usually make no effort to either expose or cover it: I just wear what I want. I'll admit that sometimes I do deliberately expose or cover it, but generally I forget it's even there -- and I certainly didn't get them in the first place for anyone but me. But on the other hand, I'm not worried that I'll forget what's important to me if I don't see them in full color on my body every day. I'm not sure exactly why I got tattoos, I just know that I wanted them and I thought carefully about them and I haven't had one day of regret since having them done (in '94 and '98). I feel that the answer lies somewhere between "for me" and "for others" -- or maybe tattoos aren't about who sees them, at all.

So, I turn to my fellow inked Dopers for your insights and thoughts. Who is your tattoo for? If it's for you, as a symbol of some significant life event, please answer the same question I was posed: why get a permanent, visible reminder of something you're unlikely to ever forget? If it's for others, why? Is that just your personality? Is there also a bumper sticker or two on your car?

Replies from the non-tattooed are, of course, also welcome; I'm just particularly interested in what other folks with tats think of their reason(s) behind them. Maybe sorting through everyone else's truths can help me discover my own, and can help me come up with an answer to "why do you have tattoos?" that goes beyond "because."
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Old 07-06-2005, 09:45 PM
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my tattoos are about my family. left arm for my father, right arm for my mother, back for my brother (cuz he ain't heavy). so far i only have two pieces finished, but i have two more already drawn and several more envisioned in my head.

that said, i cannot with any honesty deny that i like the way they look - and it's no coincedence that i've never been known to wear long sleeve shirts and the first two pieces are on my forearms, plainly visible to just about anyone, anytime.

left arm & right arm
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Old 07-06-2005, 09:50 PM
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My tattoo is for me -- a symbol of my favourite animal that symbolizes my own strength and personality. It's on my upper left arm, so it's shown quite often as I wear a lot of tank tops, which is just coincidence. That said, I like the way it looks and have gotten a lot of compliments on it -- once even by a nun!

http://pictures.greatestjournal.com/...4152761/476707 <-- It's going to be a shoulder to elbow sleeve with background scenery and some text once I stop being so lazy and get back to the shop.
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Old 07-06-2005, 09:56 PM
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My kids.

Right upper arm: heart with 5-year-olds name and birthdate. I had it done on her first birthdate.

Left upper arm: Waiting for the new baby's first birthday for similar.
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Old 07-06-2005, 09:56 PM
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My tattoo is for me. It's on my upper back, down my spine and is not normally visible. It is 4 traditional Chinese characters, a Chinese proverb that means "Dripping water can eat through stone." I got it a couple of months ago to celebrate my 55 lb weight loss - it's very meaningful to me, it's a reminder not to mess up. Losing weight is easy, keeping weight off is difficult. I have to keep up all the small changes that led to success.
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Old 07-06-2005, 10:05 PM
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Left shoulder--an abstract circular design of night and day. I really can't claim it has any deep spiritual meaning, but I do think it's very fitting for me. I like the duality of it, the reminder that the dark is balanced by the light.

I've got another on my ankle that, sadly, was for little more than indulging an intoxicated whim. I don't like it nearly as much, but I've come to appreciate it as a little warning to think things through.
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Old 07-06-2005, 10:13 PM
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I've got three: an orange goldfish on my calf, an orange koi across my lower back, and a small orange rose on my left hand. Why? 'Cause they're pretty and I like orange and goldfish. No special meaning. (I'm not particularly deep) Although I originally intended the one on my hand to prevent me from ever getting a "real" job. Hah! I sure foiled me. I work in a cubicle...
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Old 07-06-2005, 10:16 PM
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Left inner ankle.

It's a tattoo of a drawing I made of a camera operator. It does help remind me of my calling, which I need right about now.

No bumper stickers (they tend to anger me).
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Old 07-06-2005, 10:18 PM
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My tats were also chosen after some deliberation. For me, they are an immediate signal to those who see them that says "this is the type of guy you are talking to".

The peace sign is on my right arm. Peace is right. This is the way I try and conduct myself: peacably. Although I am a fairly confrontational person, I don't bully people, I don't coerce, and I don't allow that to happen to me. The rainbow color scheme was inspired by Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition... no, I didn't ever do anything with them, I just liked the idea that the name was all-inclusive. I'd like to see all peoples get along with each other. Plus, I mean, come on... rainbows look cool.

The anarchy sign is on my left arm. Anarchy is what's left. This is my commitment to self-sufficiency and self-governance. A declaration, if you will, that I am and will be responsible for myself and my actions.

Of course, the seeming dichotomy/disparity of the 2 tats sends lots of people into a tizzie, and even scares a few, but all-in-all that doesn't bother me. If someone can't "get it" then they prolly aren't people I would want to hang out with anyway. Some of the inspiration for them undoubtedly came from many readings of Robert Heinlein's The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress and Professor de la Paz's discussions of Rational Anarchy (I know it's not practical in real life, but I like having an ideal to strive for, eh).

I also want: the entire Appalachian Trail on my right thigh, but only after I complete it (1878 miles to go! approximately). Also the trail to Havasupai, from Hualapai Hilltop all the way down to the Colorado River (this is the most beautiful, amazing place I have ever been to... I have spent 42 days of my life down there, and I intend to spend more than a year total in that canyon before I die). The other one I have ready to go is this picture on my upper back and lower neck. It's a depiction of the Alaskan sun god by Joe Wilson. I like the colors, the imagery, and the notion of paying homage to something that is not just an essential part of life as we know it, but a source of beauty and strength as well.

As an aside, I don't find many people with just one tattoo. They are addicting, and it doesn't take long after the first one that people start thinking about another. Is that true for people here? (Sorry for the minor hijack, Misnomer.)
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Old 07-06-2005, 10:46 PM
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My tattoo is a reminder that the results of some decisions hang around a lot longer than you'd think. Half the time I like it and half the time it just gives me intense feelings of "stupid white girl."
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Old 07-06-2005, 10:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowboarder Bo
[url=http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v326/snowboarderbo/mytats.jpg]As an aside, I don't find many people with just one tattoo. They are addicting, and it doesn't take long after the first one that people start thinking about another. Is that true for people here? (Sorry for the minor hijack, Misnomer.)
So true. I have a sticker on the side of my monitor that says "It's ten years to your first tattoo and 10 minutes to your second." I've only got the one, but it's the centerpiece to a sleeve, and I already have my other arm planned out.
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Old 07-06-2005, 10:57 PM
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Mine are for me 100%. They are even upside down so they only look right-side up to me. I don't try to explain them to people very much because it sounds stupid, but they make me happy. I feel lucky to have them, and they remind me that I'm lucky.
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Old 07-06-2005, 11:05 PM
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My tattoo is of a black cat with blue and purple dragon wings. I got it because I liked it, and have never regretted it. Not many people see it because it's on the inside of one of my calves and I usually wear pants. Usually people are surprised to find out I even have a tattoo. (Must be that librarian look my hubby says I have.)

And I never had bumper stickers, but I did use to have a TON of buttons with sayings, so maybe it is related to that impluse after all.

To answer Snowboarder Bo's question, yes tattoos are addicting. For years I've planned out other tats to get, and I've just never been able to get them.
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Old 07-06-2005, 11:16 PM
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I have the Utah Teapot, in wireframe, tattooed on my right shoulder. It's definitely just for me -- you can't see it even if I wear short sleeves. I got it after I shipped my first game.
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Old 07-06-2005, 11:28 PM
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For me. Uppercase Greek letter "Omega", upper left arm. Without going into great detail, this mark represents something that I could never possibly forget, mark or not. What it does do is prompt me to reflect on that memory every time I see it, and remember what I did to earn it. This has a significant effect on my self-image, and my behaviour.
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Old 07-07-2005, 03:06 AM
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I have a wolf design on my back, left hand side. Noone really ever sees it. I just like it. It's entirely for me.
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Old 07-07-2005, 04:41 AM
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My tattoos are for me, but I never fail to get a kick out of the facial expressions of little old ladies when they see my leg piece. In addition to a dolphin (left breast), Shaman's Tears (inside right ankle) and a pink flamingo (outside right ankle) I have a waterfall with flowers from my left hip to ankle. It is basically a work-in-progress; my artist and I decided on it when I realized I liked tattoos and didn't want to end up looking like a comic book, with different pics here and there.

With the exception of my dolphin, all of my tattoos are on my legs - I can wear slacks or dark hose and look just as respectable as anyone could want. Or I can wear shorts and rock someone's world. It's just a matter of mood.

When I was working for the local Humane Society, I stopped by my artist's shop to pick up a change collection can and leave another one. While I waited to speak to Falcon, I was chatting with a young lady who was there to have her tongue pierced. >>shudder<< I commented that I loved my tattoos but that I wouldn't consider a tongue piercing. The young lady said, in a very condesending manner, "oh you have a tattoo" - so I hiked up my skirt and showed her. I guess she was expecting a ladybug on my ankle or something, cause she freaked out. "Wow - to look at you I would never have guessed." I like having that choice - I can keep them private or I can be biker bitch from hell.
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Old 07-07-2005, 05:19 AM
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My first two tattoos were just for me. I got my purple daisy peace sign when I was 18, mainly because I'd been wanting a tattoo for a long time, and I wanted to piss my mom off. Boy did it work! Sometimes I wish I'd gotten something a bit prettier.

I got the second when I was 23 (?). I chose a sprig of holly because uh, that's my name. I did a bit more research and took the design out of a botany book from the library. I wanted it because for the first time in my life, I felt like my own person.

The third is a celtic heart with a bumble bee and blue delphinium. I got at age 27, in honor of my dad after he died in September of 2003. The blue delphinium because those were some of the flowers used in the funeral arrangement I bought, and the bee symbolizes his life and his generosity. If that doesn't make sense, here is my logic: Bees pollinate flowers, resulting in more flowers. Silly, I know. Holly & Dad tattoos.

My husband and I are planning on getting matching tattoos some time in the future. They'll probably feature the St. Andrew's Cross and American flag.

Bumper stickers? I have a Coop devil chick (no nudity) in my back window, and a GB sticker on the bumper.
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Old 07-07-2005, 06:47 AM
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Good question, Misnomer.

I think to me it has something to do with having the guts to take a risk. It's exactly for this reason that henna tattoo wouldn't do. Without the risk of regretting, the coolness goes.

So I think that I (and although I can only speak for myself I suspect this goes for more tattoo wearers) want to show that I'm the kind of person who wants to show they dare take a risk and live with the consequences. Getting tattoed shows this to others and proves it to yourself. So to me the meaning is in the actual non-reversable (or hard to reverse anway) inking of the skin, rather than the symbolism of the image on my arm.

Or that's my crackpot theory, anyway.
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Old 07-07-2005, 07:50 AM
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Upper right arm.

Pyramid with the eye.

It's for me. It's the most omniguous symbol out there, and when poeple ask me about it, I can make up anything I want about its meaning. Plus I'm a huge fan of the Illuminatus trilogy.

Jack
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Old 07-07-2005, 07:51 AM
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Originally Posted by pokey
I don't try to explain them to people very much because it sounds stupid. . .
Ouch!
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Old 07-07-2005, 07:55 AM
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Mine's for me, even though I rarely see it (yeah, stereotypically, it's on my lower back. Not in the center, though! Offset, to the right. But there you are). I've always wanted one, as long as I can remember. When I saw this design, my heart yelled, "that's the one!" So I got it, at the ripe age of, what, 20? 21? Something like that. Partially to celebrate being published in the campus newspaper, partially because I was there, I always wanted one, and I found the right design. It's a celtic knot with a heart in it. I love it, don't regret it for an instant.

Yep, want another one (or two) as well. This time I even know what the design will be like and where I'll get them, so I'm a step up. Just gotta get 'em now, huh?
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Old 07-07-2005, 08:15 AM
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... and a GB sticker on the bumper.
I just want to clarify this: GB=Great Britain, not George Bush!
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Old 07-07-2005, 09:45 AM
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I do want another tattoo. I haven't found the right design yet.
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Old 07-07-2005, 09:54 AM
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My tattoo is for myself. Of course, at the time there was also a hope that it would impress either Michelle or Jen.
The tattoo itself is of a version of the Mayan yax glyph that I came across in a book one day. At the time I was studying archaeology (Maya - natch). Also, among its many meanings, yax means green which is my last name and it refers to the centre of the 4 cardinal directions (ie centered). Made a lot of sense to me. FTR, I knew it was time to get the tat when it seemed like a bad idea when I was drunk.
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Old 07-07-2005, 11:36 AM
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I have four tats, all of which are for me. I'm of the mind that tattoos are intensely personal (NO flash!), and so even when I'm wearing shorts and short sleeves, only one of mine can be seen.

And yes, they are ridiculously addicting. Already planning a fifth.
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Old 07-07-2005, 11:57 AM
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Mine is for my wonderful wife.

This Autumn, I'll be extending it further down my arm to include little Max or Shayla, whichever the case may be.
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Old 07-07-2005, 12:30 PM
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Ouch!
NOT! what I meant.

My story sounds stupid. Other people's stories usually make more sense than mine. Mine comes dangerously close to involving an inner child.
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Old 07-07-2005, 12:41 PM
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FilmGeek- are there any especially talented artists in Lawrence? East Coast Al in KCK did 2 of mine.
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Old 07-07-2005, 01:24 PM
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Mine is for me, for a few reasons. I've wanted one since I started hanging out with biker types. I never knew what design I wanted, and never seriously decided to get one. I was stopped a few times when I was drunk, to which I'm grateful.

Then my lifestyle changed, and I married a (much to my dismay) a control freak. A tat was a definite no-no. As many of you know, he passed away 2-1/2 years ago.

My present to myself the following Christmas was a tattoo on my right shoulder. It's a blue scorpion (I'm a Scorpio) with a red rose in it's claw. My design. It's very cool!

So I sorta got it as a neener-neener to my late husband. And my boyfriend at the time (my now husband) thought I should do whatever I wanted to do regarding a tat. He thinks it's great!

My dad would be very disappointed if he knew I had one, so I don't let him see it. He's 81, and very old school. No need to upset him.

I figure I'm 46, and I can do what the hell I want. And I'm thinking what to get next!
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Old 07-07-2005, 01:41 PM
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Mine (Cat in the Hat & Mad Hatter), I got all for myself.
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Old 07-07-2005, 01:59 PM
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I have one on my right leg just above the ankle. It's a sort-of Celtic border that I reshaped into a circle. It doesn't have much meaning, but I got it for me as a reminder of a happy time in my life.

My next will be for me and my wife (we've been married about 2 months). We went to the US Virgin Islands for our honeymoon, and while there ended up swimming with a sea turtle for an afternoon. It was just me, my wife, and this beautiful turtle hanging out in the ocean. It was an amazing experience. I'm still sketching the tat, but it's going to be a sea turtle (not too realistic, and somehow keeping with the Celtic design of my first one) with a shell pattern modeled on the St. John Petroglyphs. I'm toying with having two mirroring petroglyphs to make up the shell. It will probably end up being about as big as my hand, and going on my left calf. Should be pretty neat.
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Old 07-07-2005, 02:17 PM
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Two for me, one sort of for others.

My first was two serpents entwined, a variation on the Goddess protection theme. I got it because of the resonance of the AURYN in The Neverending Story, but it's not that image exactly. It's actually from a necklace I had (gave it to my husband later) that I think is based on Viking art, but I'm not sure.

My second was given to me in full ceremony as part of my "reclaiming my Maidenhood" phase. Not a born-again-virginity thing, but a realization that I had skipped over some very important growing-up by having a baby at 18, and I needed to get myself into that mindset for a couple of years before once again being an Archetypal Mother. It's a Goddess-worship Thang. That's around my ankle, reminding me to dance. There will be a Motherhood one above it soon (a ring of fairies, each one progressively more pregnant) and someday a Crone (I have no idea yet what that will be.)

My third was the most intense, but is also the most visible, and the most "for others." But it's also for me. When I realized my calling as Priestess, I had a ceremony which included ritual drumming and this tattoo. It's on my sternum, visible in most necklines. It's a crescent moon and a star - but the star is a cross. It represents my dedication to being "out" as a pagan, by respect for all paths of spirituality, including neopaganism, Christianity and Islam (finding a Jewish symbol for a tattoo seems...well...inconsistent.), and my wililngness to serve others in any Spiritual manner asked. While it was not a bit physically painful, it was horribly emotionally and spiritually draining, and my Ascended Masters literally dragged me to hell and back while I was being marked so I could prove my dedication to this choice. When many neopagans see it, they know something of what it means, and most people ask. I generally say it's a sign of my dedecation as Priestess (or Minister, if I'm talking to a Muggle), and see where the conversation goes. Bar lying, it ensures that people know I'm neopagan and can ask me questions about it. Fighting Ignorance Since 2002!

As for why I need a visual reminder of something I'll never forget? I don't, really. Except that there's moments when I'll forget, momentarily, the important thing, and then catch sight of the reminder, and I know it's time to reflect and meditate. Would I remember again without it? Sure. But this gives me alerts at those times in my life when I most need it.
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Old 07-07-2005, 05:08 PM
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I don't have a tattoo yet, although you inspired me to start an advice thread to help me join the inked ranks. When I have it, it will most definitely be for me.
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Old 07-07-2005, 05:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhyNot
<snip> My third was the most intense, but is also the most visible, and the most "for others." But it's also for me. When I realized my calling as Priestess, I had a ceremony which included ritual drumming and this tattoo. It's on my sternum, visible in most necklines. It's a crescent moon and a star - but the star is a cross. It represents my dedication to being "out" as a pagan, by respect for all paths of spirituality, including neopaganism, Christianity and Islam (finding a Jewish symbol for a tattoo seems ... well ... inconsistent.), and my wililngness to serve others in any Spiritual manner asked. <snip>
[hijack] WhyNot, when I read this description, I immediately thought of a clothing line I saw on TV a week or so ago. It's called Coexist. They use the crescent moon for the C, Star of David for the X, and christian cross for the T. I have no affiliation with them whatsoever; I just thought you might find their designs interesting. The website is www.coexistonline.com. WARNING - Flash site, takes a while to load.

[/hijack]

I have no tattoos, though I want one.
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Old 07-07-2005, 05:37 PM
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Sweet, Avarie! I really like that. Yep, same concept, graphically rendered.
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Old 07-07-2005, 06:36 PM
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Calvin on upper right arm is for no one in particular. Maybe for me, and my inner little boy looking to be wiser beyond his years, but that's a little too deep to be convincing.

Shamrock on left calf for my dad. Got it after he died. Haven't come up with a good design for my mom. She liked angels and lighthouses, but I don't think I want either of them on my body. Maybe I'll get a little red hat put on the tattoo, since she loved that poem and never got to get old. I don't know.

The footprint they took when my son was born was tattooed on my right calf the following day. That one gets the most attention. Mom actually liked it. She'd introduce me to her friends, and say "Show 'em your leg!" I still get comments on it to this day.

Saturday, I'm getting a Celtic knot around a Red Sox "B" on my left arm for no reason whatsoever. Tats don't always need reasons.
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Old 07-07-2005, 06:36 PM
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I only have one tattoo, which I got for me. I really don't like it. It's a kanji symbol, flash (though I did research beforehand to make sure it was accurate, though you can never know for sure), for "change." I was nineteen and since then I've become aware of the possible mis-appropriation of culture that comes with white people getting kanji tattoos, so I'm a little ashamed of it. I'm planning a cover-up but I can't find anything I like that utilizes a lot of black. The tattoo is small (1"x1") and on my right hip, so nobody sees it unless I wear a bathing suit or something, which I never do.

I am getting another one though, as soon as summer ends (I have heard that it's best not to get tattoos in the dead of summer, as heat can affect the fresh ink even if you keep it out of direct sunlight... sounds a little over-cautious but better safe than sorry). It's going to be a blue typewriter on my upper back, a little bit north of the space between my shoulder blades (but below the shirt line), not much larger than the one I have now. I'm a writer and I wanted to get something related to that, and quills are so overplayed. I also want to get a black skeleton key on the back of my right leg, but I'm a little worried about job issues. Although, I do almost always wear pants and if I do wear skirts I always wear dark hose, so maybe a leg tattoo wouldn't be such a big problem job-wise.
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Old 07-07-2005, 06:43 PM
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Oh yeah, and those last two would be for me too. Except for a memorial tattoo, I wouldn't get a tattoo for anyone else, especially not a boyfriend or girlfriend. You're just asking for trouble there.
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Old 07-07-2005, 09:34 PM
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Sorry for taking so long to get back to this thread -- I don't know why, but I didn't expect so many replies! My thanks to everyone who has posted so far.

That said, maybe I didn't title this thread correctly: I think "why did you get your tattoo" might have been better than "who is your tattoo for." Many people who have posted replies answered the first part of my question (who is it for), but not the second part (why) -- and the second part was my whole reason for starting this thread. Also, when I mentioned getting a tattoo for other people I meant getting a tattoo specifically because it would be seen by the general public, not getting a tattoo for a boyfriend or girlfriend.

So, if your reply was only what your tattoo is and/or who you got it for, please come back and tell me the "why" -- why get something to memorialize a loved one? Why have an animal on you? What specifically about having a tattoo seemed better to you than any other method of marking whatever it is you've marked?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glory
My tattoo is for me. It's on my upper back, down my spine and is not normally visible. It is 4 traditional Chinese characters, a Chinese proverb that means "Dripping water can eat through stone." I got it a couple of months ago to celebrate my 55 lb weight loss - it's very meaningful to me, it's a reminder not to mess up.
How often do you see it, though? When I was figuring out where to put my wolf a friend suggested my shoulder blade, but I thought I'd hardly ever get to see it if I put it there. I almost never see my own back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tremorviolet
Why? 'Cause they're pretty and I like orange and goldfish. No special meaning.
Then why tattoos?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowboarder Bo
Of course, the seeming dichotomy/disparity of the 2 tats sends lots of people into a tizzie, and even scares a few, but all-in-all that doesn't bother me.
I once dated a guy who had a chaos symbol tattoo over his heart. He spent several minutes in frank amazement that I didn't run screaming from the room the first time I saw it.

Quote:
As an aside, I don't find many people with just one tattoo. They are addicting, and it doesn't take long after the first one that people start thinking about another. Is that true for people here? (Sorry for the minor hijack, Misnomer.)
No worries. I'd heard that, too -- that I wouldn't be able to get just one. I guess they were right! But I don't see getting a third one any time in the near future, though I do have an idea for a possible design. There are some things about the G-clef tattoo that I'd like to get "fixed" eventually, so I'd probably do that before getting a third tat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flipstrip
Usually people are surprised to find out I even have a tattoo.
Same here! With me, though, I think I have a "girl next door" thing going on. I don't know what surprises people more, the tattoos or the Iron Maiden fandom.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuji Kitakyusho
What it does do is prompt me to reflect on that memory every time I see it, and remember what I did to earn it. This has a significant effect on my self-image, and my behaviour.
Do you feel like you wouldn't remember what you did without the tattoo to remind you?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snakescatlady
I commented that I loved my tattoos but that I wouldn't consider a tongue piercing.
I'm so there! I got my second tat at a convention, and when it was done my friend and I stopped by the piercing area because she wanted to see about getting a larger gauge in her ear (or something). I kind of shuddered a little at the thought of getting pierced, and my friend just stared at me, and then laughed and said, "You're walking around bleeding from a tattoo, but you don't like the idea of getting pierced??" It made me laugh, too. To each her own!

Quote:
Originally Posted by PookahMacPhellimey
So I think that I (and although I can only speak for myself I suspect this goes for more tattoo wearers) want to show that I'm the kind of person who wants to show they dare take a risk and live with the consequences. Getting tattoed shows this to others and proves it to yourself. So to me the meaning is in the actual non-reversable (or hard to reverse anway) inking of the skin, rather than the symbolism of the image on my arm.
Excellent theory! Thanks! I like that very much . . . it resonates with me, but I'll have to "think on it" to decide whether I really feel that way or if I just like the idea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NotWithoutRage
I'm of the mind that tattoos are intensely personal (NO flash!)
I used to think that way, too, until I went to that convention and saw my wolf. Don't think I didn't agonize about the idea of getting flash! I hated the thought that tons of other people out there could be walking around with my tattoo. But I just fell in love with the look of it, and I decided to go ahead and get it when I found myself worrying more about walking out of the convention and never finding another wolf tattoo that I liked as much. I'm still generally anti-flash, but I can't be too hardcore about it without being hypocritical. <grin>

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dolores Reborn
My dad would be very disappointed if he knew I had one, so I don't let him see it.
Yeah, my mom likes to think of herself as "cool," so she has no problem with my tattoos, but I think my father has forgotten about them. He saw each of them once, right after I got them, and not since. Sometimes I'll wear shorts and ankle socks around him and the G-clef is visible, but I'm pretty sure the idea of that one bothers him a lot less than the wolf (he's a musician, as well). I was 22 and living on my own when I got my first tattoo, so he knew that he had no "say" in the matter. <grin>

Quote:
Originally Posted by WhyNot
As for why I need a visual reminder of something I'll never forget? I don't, really. Except that there's moments when I'll forget, momentarily, the important thing, and then catch sight of the reminder, and I know it's time to reflect and meditate. Would I remember again without it? Sure. But this gives me alerts at those times in my life when I most need it.
You and PookahMacPhellimey have both put into words things that I think I've been feeling since I was first asked "why do you have tattoos." This is another one for me to think on. Thank you!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Casey1505
Tats don't always need reasons.
Excellent point . . . thank you, too!

Quote:
Originally Posted by continuity eror
I was nineteen and since then I've become aware of the possible mis-appropriation of culture that comes with white people getting kanji tattoos, so I'm a little ashamed of it.
I get what you mean, but I don't think you should be ashamed of anything that you got (or did) with pure intentions. Just my $0.02.
  #41  
Old 07-07-2005, 09:56 PM
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I have a plain wooden cross on the inside of my left ankle, with a white rose and a yellow rose around it. Got it shortly after I turned 18.

It's meaning for me is to remind me that Jesus is always with me. I like it because I'm not a strict Christian but the idea of having "a friend in Jesus" is pretty darn comforting.

The yellow rose is my parent's rose (their wedding rose, meaning friendship) and the white rose symbolizes me - purity

8 years later I have still not regretted getting it. I love it every day. I do want more - I want to get a "group tattoo" with my cousins (the word "cousins" in Slovak) and an addition to my current tattoo the text "2 Corinthians 12:10" for a very inspirational Bible verse.

I got it on the inside of my left ankle so it would be least noticeable but noticeable enough (I think it looks beautiful) so that not everyone would miss it. Also it's the one part of my body that's not stretched from fat
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Old 07-07-2005, 09:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Misnomer
Then why tattoos?
'Cause I think tattoos are attractive too. Body art is just adornment,meaning or not. Some people wear rings on thier fingers because they like gold or silver, others wear rings that symbolize their commitment to another person.

But I do admit the whole pain aspect was a small factor. Not the pain itself, the proving that I'm not a wimp.
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Old 07-07-2005, 10:47 PM
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Quote:
Glory
My tattoo is for me. It's on my upper back, down my spine and is not normally visible. It is 4 traditional Chinese characters, a Chinese proverb that means "Dripping water can eat through stone." I got it a couple of months ago to celebrate my 55 lb weight loss - it's very meaningful to me, it's a reminder not to mess up.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Misnomer
How often do you see it, though? When I was figuring out where to put my wolf a friend suggested my shoulder blade, but I thought I'd hardly ever get to see it if I put it there. I almost never see my own back.
I catch glimpses of it all the time - but I don't need to see it, I know it's there. Of course, after a bingey weekend while my parents were in town, I joked I should have put it on my fork hand
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Old 07-07-2005, 11:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Misnomer
I get what you mean, but I don't think you should be ashamed of anything that you got (or did) with pure intentions. Just my $0.02.
True, and I don't feel TOO badly about it because of that, but I still don't want a politically fishy (as far as my politics go) tattoo on me forever. I've been thinking about just covering it with a big black heart with an arrow going through it, as the shapes kind of match up and I like blocky tattoos in easily recognizable shapes. No detailed linework for me! Plus I saw this girl with a black heart on her wrist and I thought it looked really cool, the combination of a "girly" image and thick black ink. So I think that may be my next skin project, after the typewriter.

As for why I got/want to get tattoos... I just like them. I think they look cool. It's just like asking why I wear my hair shoulder length or why I like pink or why I like shirts with certain images on them. Tattoos don't have any deep spiritual meaning for me, nor do I get them to mark passages in my life; I want to get them because I like the way they look, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Obviously, it's not to make a fashion statement to other people, since none of my tattoos are or will be visible. Maybe it's a bit weird that I want to get one on my back since neither I nor anyone else will see it, but hey, there's always mirrors for that. Actually, seeing as how I am such a perfectionist it's probably best I don't have a tattoo I see all the time, since I would be constantly looking at its many inconsistencies and touching it so much all the ink would rub off. Out of sight, (mostly) out of mind.
  #45  
Old 07-07-2005, 11:51 PM
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It's the darndest thing. I swear I replied to this thread earlier today. So very weird. But apparently I only looked at it and thought about replying.

I don't have the tattoo yet, but it is in planning. And it will be for me. The plan is for me to lose a fair bit of weight, (healthily and safely). The amount of weight I need to lose according to the government is ludicrous, but I do admit for health reasons I need to lose weight.

Anyways, so if I lose the target weight, I'll declare victory and I'll get the number of pounds lost (the goal is 40. Like I said, it's a long road). I'll take that number and convert it to binary, and I'll then get the number repeating tattooed around my wrist like a bracelet. A constant reminder of what I did and what I accomplished, and how I never want to weigh that much again.

So this tattoo would be for me.
  #46  
Old 07-08-2005, 12:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Misnomer
I get what you mean, but I don't think you should be ashamed of anything that you got (or did) with pure intentions. Just my $0.02.
I get a lot of crap from people about my tattoo. Especially family members. I finally had to say, "I did not do this to be rebellious. I did this because I wanted it." It shut some people up, but not all of them. I got it on such a visible area that everyone has to say something about it. I don't mind that; it's obviously going to happen. I just get tired of the people who see my arm all the time saying the same things about it. (Funnily enough, no one ever hassled me about it in church.) Since I entered college, the family hounding ran along the lines of, "You'll never get a job in your field with that thing on your arm." I'm thin-skinned, so it's gotten to me. Then there was the time I was helping one of my cousins take a bath. She was about five at the time. She tried to wash the tattoo off my arm.

I would like to get a few others in less visible places. I've always liked the look of ladybugs, and I'd like to get a very small one on either shoulder blade. I'm a Libra, and I'm also attracted to the idea of getting a Justice figure holding aloft a scale, on whichever shoulder didn't have the bug.

My tattoo is sort of a fidget item for me. I scratch and rub it when I'm thinking, and I've found myself subconsciously tracing it with my finger any number of times.
  #47  
Old 07-08-2005, 08:49 AM
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I've seen several references to "flash." What's a flash?
  #48  
Old 07-08-2005, 09:52 AM
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When you walk into a tattoo place, typically the walls are covered with tattoo designs that you can choose from (if you don't have a design of your own in mind). A tattoo like that, which is not original, is called "flash." There may also be books of flash to look through, instead of/in addition to stuff on the walls.

People have various attitudes about flash: some don't have a problem with it, others think it's ridiculous to get a tattoo that any Tom, Dick, or Harry might also have picked off a wall somewhere. My attitude lies somewhere in the middle (ref. my reply to NotWithoutRage).
  #49  
Old 07-08-2005, 10:59 AM
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Hey, I just thought of one of them there analogies...

Why do people take pictures at weddings? Or of their kids? And then put them up on the walls in their bedrooms where other people rarely see them? Are they going to forget their wedding or kids without them? I don't think so.

So, for me, my body is my most permanent and important "photo album," with those few portraits of a moment in my life most worth commemorating.
  #50  
Old 07-08-2005, 11:12 AM
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My tattoos are primarily for me, but they're also there for the sake of expressing a part of myself to those who are close to me.

My first is an Eye of Horus beside my left shoulder blade. It's an ancient Egyptian design that not only was a symbol of protection and guidance, but also is made up of a collection of hieroglyphs that encapsulate a mathematical notion similar to Zeno's paradox -- a notion that isn't expressed so concisely until the modern notation for limits.

I also have a Hammer of Thor on my right upper arm. It symbolizes strength and protection, along with my Norse heritage.

Both designs are appealing to me on a number of levels -- their appearance, their symbolism, and their antiquity. I like looking at them myself, which is why I slightly regret the placement of the first, and I like having those people I care most about see them.
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