Today, tattoos appear to be less of an act of social rebellion and more a form of self-expression. Millennials are often criticized for being trend-obsessed and noncommittal but nearly 40% of our generation has at least one tattoo so it’s interesting that so many feel compelled to establish such a specific form of permanence.
When I was a kid I didn’t see a lot of tattoos, they were frankly quite frowned upon. I can still remember my mom’s tone when she asked/stated, “You’ll never get a tattoo… right?” Later that summer she discovered that I had gotten my nipple pierced and her reaction was more painful than the procedure itself! Despite her disapproval, it was a liberating experience for me and the first time that I felt a different ownership of my body.
Full disclosure I do not have any tattoos. Honestly, I think it’s the combination of their permanence and my indecisiveness that terrifies me. So, I recently asked 10 women why they love their tattoos and many of their responses made me question some of my own reservations.
Kindly comment below, share your tattoos and/or the ways you show self-love!
"I love my tattoos because they are mine, and most of them remind me of how much higher my tolerance for pain was when I was 20. My favorite is actually my shittiest tattoo, it says, “meow” and is super blurry, but it’s an ode to my cat, Smush. "
-32 y.o., from Miami, FL.
“What I LOVE about my tattoos is their uniqueness and meaning. Each of them represents either someone or a moment in my life that I want to keep with me forever. They radiate the most positive energy 💛”
-32 y.o., from Brazil
“I love my tattoos because they are for me.”
-33 y.o., from Bodega Bay, CA.
“I love my tattoos because they mark the passing of time. No one means one thing--it is a permanent reminder of mistake, self-doubt, realization, and reminders to endure.”
-29 y.o., from San Francisco, CA. (photos by Alana M Miller)
“I love that in my brash decision-making I chose my upper instead of lower back for an Australian flag tattoo after my year abroad. I used to think my tattoo was lame until I worked with this chick I presumed was Australian based on her tried and true accent. Turns out she was born and raised in San Diego.....but spent a year in Melbourne. I’ll take a flag over a fake accent any day.”
-34 y.o., from Seattle, WA.
“I love that my tattoos are completely unique; no one else has exactly the same thing, even if someone else has the same design. I also love that no two people will look at them the same way- to you, it may just look like a simple weight plate or coffee bean, but each of these things is symbolic of major components of my very being!”
-26 y.o., from Oswego, NY.
“I love this tattoo because it came together so well, from my idea to the artists interpretation - a seamless collaboration. I had sat on this idea for a few years and pretty much gave her artistic liberties to come up with something unique that would showcase her drawing style. Soon as she finished this piece I felt like it had always been a part of me. The artist is Samantha Mancino... she used to be at Ink Ink Tattoo in Venice but recently moved to Miami, I believe.”
-29 y.o., from Spokane, WA.
“Omg I feel so emo, but death is a beach, at least that's how I see it. Ebbs and flows of the tide, coconuts falling from palm trees clocking you on the head, and snakes slithering up your stems to tell secrets. Another one is a reminder that all I need is a body of water to calm me down. And there's always a little pineapple drink set back on a table waiting for me.”
-28 y.o., from NY, NY.
“ACE is my beloved cat and the tattoo was made by my beloved brother. Right above his name is a stick n’ poke leopard. A few of my tattoos are meaningful, they’re dedicated to the animals in my life, past and present. But most of them are just images from artists I like. I guess I’m an art collector?”
-29 y.o., from Santa Barbara, CA.
“My favorite tattoos are my smallest tattoos, they don’t overwhelm and sometimes I even forget they’re there. I got them because I was super into piercings, I had never broken a bone in my body or experienced significant pain in my life, so in a sense, it was a little sadistic. I can see how it can become an addiction. Recently, I got a large tattoo of my son’s birth date, I think out of rebellion. As an actor, I feel like the industry gives women a harder time than men when it comes to our bodies, whether it’s deciding to have children or get tattoos.”
-33 y.o., from Santa Cruz, CA.