Marie Talks: Tattoos and Piercings In Society

I remember growing up being told to not get tattoos, they’re ugly, dangerous, and makes you labeled a delinquent.  I remember being told not to get any visible piercings, nothing on my face or body, on my ears only. Even at the age of 12 I was when I saw a tattoo or piercing I thought was awesome I immediately thought of the potential implications and issues that could come with it later on I life.  I was taught from a young age that having tattoos, piercings, and unnaturally dyed hair made you basically unemployable, irresponsible, and ugly.

When I was twelve my parents finally allowed me to get my ears pierced.  They are of the belief that piercing a child’s ears before they are old enough to make the decision themselves isn’t right.  Not for the reason of it “promotes body piercings”; but for the sheer fact that it is altering the child’s body without their consent. They waited until they felt I was mature enough to make a decision to put holes in my body for a pointless reason other than that it’s pretty.  They wanted to make sure I was old enough to make a well thought out decision myself when it came to my body, and take care of them on my own.  No parent is wrong in the decision of when to pierce their child’s ears, if to even do so at all.  However I feel my parents made the right decision for me, they instilled the belief that I should be the only one to decide what is done to my body from a very young age and promoted it with the decision of piercing my ears.

However they also instilled societies stand point on how tattoos and piercings were viewed.  Which as I stated previously meant no piercings anywhere besides my ears and definitely no tattoos. When I was sixteen I went and got my tragus pierced, the cartilage that protrudes out in front of the ear canal. Needless to say my parents had no idea I was going to get this done, and were furious when they found out.  See I went with the loop hole that it was part of my ear, whereas my mother saw it as part of the face. Now I expected this drama, and had also worries of my own.  I was worried about how society would view this piercing and what it may imply about me.  Down the road seven years later I’ve learnt the only troubles having my tragus pierced caused is the pain in the bottom that healing was, trying to not get snagged while getting my hair cut, and children love yanking on it. If I haven’t pointed it out people rarely even realize it is there.

As soon as my tragus was fully healed, which was six months later I decided that I wanted my tongue pierced.  I had always thought it looked pretty and I wanted it for that fact alone. So again off I went and got my tongue pierced.  I had doubts and almost chickened out last minute. I worried that it would tell society that I was promiscuous, or tell men I was easy. I worried what future employers would think and if it would make me unemployable.  What pushed me to actually walk in the room and let the lady covered in beautiful tattoos and piercings stick a needle through my tongue is the knowledge of why I was getting it. I remembered at the end of the day I liked how the piercing looks and I cannot let society dictate what decisions I make for my body. That my opinion the only one that truly mattered, because the piercing, and my body, are for me and me alone to decide what I do with. A week and a half later when my parents finally saw the piercing they were furious,  I disobeyed them,  I ruined my beautiful face,  and I made myself look unemployable.  To me the only one I really held dear to me was the fact that I went against my parents and did something they had strictly forbidden me from doing. I did not feel as though I ruined anything, nor was I unemployable. All that happened is I put a piece of jewelry in my body that I found esthetically pleasing to look at.

When I was eighteen I got my first tattoo, I’ll admit I was terrified.  I was getting my grandpa’s nickname on the back of my neck, three months after he had passed.  As I mentioned in my Grieving a Loved One blog, I hadn’t taken his passing very well. I thought maybe putting his nickname on my body would help me move past my loss and have a piece of his memory visibly with me at all times.  I had thought it out, he was a big part of making me who I am and I loved him dearly. I had wanted to put it somewhere I could see the reminder when I needed, however with not knowing what I wanted in my future and how the tattoo would affect my career I put it in a more hidden place. As I was getting ready to get it done I was worried that it would hurt and how my parents would react. In the end my mother was upset that I got the tattoo as she is not a fan, and that I hid this decision from her; however she was touched that what I had done was in memory of her father.

The next fall I approached my mom, I wanted a tattoo in memory of my grandma who I had lost three years prior.  She was iffy with the idea but agreed to allow me to get it done as it was something that meant a lot to me and I had clearly thought it out.  I got an angel holding three hearts (one for my mom and both her brothers) on my shoulder with her name and the words “first and foremost my heart and soul, forever and always my guardian angel” on my left shoulder blade.  I had chosen those words as much like my grandpa she had a large part of shaping me into the woman I am today and will forever be one of my closest relatives. As well as I used to always call her my guardian angel as she was always there for me and always seemed to know when I needed her.  I now despise the tattoo as some of the detail was horribly done and ruined it for me. I want to get that covered and put something new on my body for my grandmother when I can afford it.

My last tattoo I got just after my twenty-first birthday, is a black and grey tiger lily on my right shoulder blade.  I love it, it holds two different meanings to me and is absolutely beautiful. My original plan for the tattoo was for it to be in full colour and also have forget-me-not flowers and my daughter’s name; however with a lot of thought going into it I decided to leave out the extra details as I knew what the tattoo meant and didn’t feel as all the extra details were necessary. As I mentioned in my teen pregnancy blog I miscarried at sixteen and had kept it fairly secret. Therefore I didn’t want to put this extravagant display on my body for everyone to see. To me a tiger lily represents beauty, strength and resilience, which I thought was fitting to use in her memory.  Over time before I got that tattoo it also gained a second meaning.  It also became a personal reminder to always keep fighting my battle against bipolar type two.  It was a reminder that I can get past even the darkest times, that things get better. A reminder that I didn’t let the Sorrow of my miscarriage drown me, that I shouldn’t let anything else. To me this is my most powerful tattoo that serves as the biggest reminder to me that nothings worth giving up fighting over.

I do believe that tattoos and piercings make it harder to find a job, but as the years pass it is becoming easier to find jobs that allow piercings and tattoos. There is still a stigma attached to tattoos and piercings, although it is slowly losing its wide spread influence on society and more and more people are appreciating the beauty and self-expression, over the belief it makes you ugly or a delinquent.

My personal belief is that every tattoo you put on your body is a piece of artwork, and each one tells a story, holds a meaning.  As long as it means something to the person who put it on their body and/or they like it, that is all that matters. As for piercings as long as the person who has it likes it and it does not pose a health or safety risk to them, go for it.  Your body is your own, tattoo it, dress it, and pierce it as you wish. But remember tattoos are permanent, so think it through before you get it done.

Stay Beautiful. Stay You. Stay Unique Lovies,
Marie Olsson xx

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