Monday, April 16, 2007

Tattoo Taboo


When I was growing up, I was told that tattoos were only for 'bad' people. Only criminals, prisoners, and gang members had tattoos. Or so I was told. As a child, I thought they were hideous, but by the time I reached high school, I became curious. My bedroom walls were covered with Warrant, Skid Row, Slaughter, Guns 'N Roses and Trixter posters. All of those dreamy singers were covered in tattoos. Though these boys were naughty, I no longer thought tattoos were just for 'bad' boys. I still wouldn't think of getting a tattoo though.

I delved into the historical significance of tattoos. Samoans, Tahitians, and even the Japanese had a long history of marking their bodies. Even in the Neolithic Age, tattoos marked people's bodies. Tattoos have served as rites of passage, marks of status and rank, symbols of religious and spiritual devotion, decorations for bravery, sexual lures and marks of fertility, pledges of love, punishment, amulets and talismans, protection, and as the marks of outcasts, slaves and convicts. (Wikipedia)


I was just so amazed and intrigued by the history of tattoos. By the time I was in college, I decided I was going to get one. My friend, Jason tried to talk me out of it. He was very upset with me and for hours we discussed his religious reasons behind not wanting or liking tattoos. Jason explained that for him, tattoos bring a great deal of painful memories, as his family members (generations before he was born) were branded and tattooed in concentration camps during the Holocaust. It was a very difficult converation for Jason and it is one I will remember forever. I understood and respected his feelings and for him, decided that I might not get a tattoo after all. He went on to tell me that "our bodies are our temples and we should not alter them". He was adamant that we should not alter the bodies God gave us. Then I pointed out that he had his ears pierced and didn't that count for altering his body? I think I should have just kept quiet when I had the chance. I didn't mean any harm in what I said. I was merely pointing out the obvious.

A few years later, I decided I really did want a tattoo. I designed my own tattoo. It was a symbollic rite of passage for me. It was sort of a "coming of age/now you are an adult and you are free" thing for me. A girlfriend of mine came with me and held my hand through the entire thing. It didn't hurt at all. I was anticipating gruelling, excruciating pain, but it was more of a dull, nagging, annoying buzzing...sort of like being pricked by a pin a zillion times.

Eventhough I was already an adult, I hid the fact that I had a tattoo because I knew that my Roman Catholic family would be against it. Haha! So much for freedom and being my own person! I was still worried about what my family would say :) My grandmother happened to see it poking out of the back of my shirt one day, and she shrieked, "Dios Mio!" "Oh, my God! What have you done? Only criminals have tattoos! You know that this will be on your body forever? This is very bad! Very bad!". Her words resonated in my mind and for some reason, didn't sound like nagging to me, but rather like music! Strange. "Dios mio! Dios mio! You are a lady! Ladies don't wear tattoos!" and then she moved the fabric from my shoulder and touched the tattoo. "Why didn't you get a butterfly or a dolphin???" she asked. I love my grandmother :)

**An enjoyable read if you're interested: Eve's Tattoo by Emily Prager. I read it in university in one of my Women's Studies classes.



From Publishers Weekly -On her 40th birthday, Eve, a WASP New York magazine columnist of German descent, has the ID number of an Auschwitz victim tattooed on her arm. This number is identical to that worn by an unidentified inmate in a 1944 death-camp photograph, whom Eve calls "Eva." Disturbed by her tattoo, her live-in lover, French-born filmmaker Charles, walks out; Eve then discovers that he was born Jewish and had converted to Catholicism, conflicted over his parents who were Nazi collaborators. While inventing variant life histories for Eva, Eve soon seems to split into a dual personality, holding conversations with Eva and probing such questions as why masses of German women ardently supported Hitler. Penthouse columnist and novelist Prager ( Clea and Zeus Divorce ) never satisfactorily explains Eve's obsession, which resembles a mental illness; her story, without metaphorical reverberation, is flawed. Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

9 comments:

Dina said...

i have heard about this book. I am planning on reading it one of these days.
I also used to think Tatoos were disgusting but have since changed my tune. I have been thinking about getting one to match hubby's (his is the Chinese symbol for G-d) he doesn't think it's a good idea-we'll see!!!

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

Your grandma cracks me up!

No tatoos on me, but I don't have a problem with them. I just don't happen to like them. But I don't think it's a sin or anything. Kind of like a hairstyle or a piercing...to each his/her own. ;)

Uncivil said...

I can't think of anything That I would want permanantly tattooed on my body?
I like to look at other peoples tattoos, but that's as far as it goes for me.

Sounds like a very interesting book. You read the most interesting stuff.

pinks & blues girls said...

Hi Christine,

I got two strawberries tattooed on my wrist years ago - one big and one little - to symbolize my little girls Audrey and Jane (although now they're BOTH big)!

My husband got a rocket ship surrounded by 4 stars to symbolize his four children.

We both got them on our wrists so that we could cover them with a watch when we were in "professional" situations!

- Sharon, Pinks & Blues Girls

Ms. Mamma said...

Do we get a picture of this tattoo? :)

Tattoos? I've got a few...

Curiosity.Killer said...

I LOVED snake from G&R...

And tattoos don't mean BAD -- it only meant REBELLIOUS. People should get that straight.

I don't have a tattoo. But I had my bellybutton pierced twice! (not there anymore...)

Chrissy121875 said...

Dina:
I'm shocked! I had noooooo idea Gav had a tattoo!!! WOW! :) Yes, the thing with tattoos is that they are permanent. I thought mine over for a LONG time before I made my final decision. What would you get, if you ever decided to get one?

J:
Tee hee! My grandma cracks me up too! :) I agree with you too. It's all about personal choice ;) I actually have mine in an area where it could be covered up easily (as a teacher, I wasn't allowed to have any visible tattoos where I was teaching at).

Uncivil:
Yes, it was really hard to decide what I'd want on my body forever. I kept thinking "When I'm 64, what will my grandchildren think if I had a tattoo of such and such on me?" LOL!

Sharon:
Hi! I LOVE reading your comments! I think it's great that you and your husband got tattoos that reminded you of your kids. That's really sweet (and meaningful).

Ms.Mamma:
I'll most certainly post a pic sometime soon-ish ;) Soooooo...how many do you have??? I think you may have mentioned it in a meme before. I'll have to backtrack! LOL! BTW, you actually inspired this post. All those pics of Grimace and the cow that jumped over the moon just made me think of tattoos, tattoos, and more tattoos!

CK:
You know what's funny? After I got my tattoo, I wanted more and more and more! They're addictive! I kept coming up with more designs and symbols I may want to get tattooed. In the end, I couldn't be bothered! LOL! I wanted more, but never ended up getting any more done. My husband likes my tattoo...and he also likes that it's little! LOL! It's not too in your face when we have to go to special occasions like weddings.

japanmanpete said...

You are quite the interesting character. Witty, well-read, worldly and a good cook! Your husband is a lucky man.

Chrissy121875 said...

Pete:
HAHA! Well, I try :) Actually, I'm the lucky one! My hubby's pretty darn great.

So, have you and Yuka reconciled? You haven't mentioned her in any of your e-mails. Thanks for the ohanami photos! Gorgeous!

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City girl moves to the country, falls in love, and marries a farmer. She tries to incorporate her city ways with her new country lifestyle and blogs to keep in touch with friends, family & students who live far, far away :) Can this city girl go country? Watch as she learns all sorts of exciting things about life on the farm and in a small rural community. *UPDATE* We are now parents! Our baby girl was born on Nov. 11, 2008 (at 28 weeks gestation- 12 weeks premature, but she's quite the trooper)!!!
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