April 26th, 2011


Tattooed chicks do it better

12 springs ago or so I discovered the solution to budgetary problems that the highly respected and presumably intelligent group of 541 up on the Hill can’t seem to arrive at: earn more, spend less. Back in the day the concept of earning was somewhat relative: my earnings came in the form of lunch money. Saving was a little unorthodox as well: skipping lunch made you skinny and gave you the funds to squeeze your new skinniness into new jeans (though saving for something like new jeans was an endeavor complicated by a loudly growling stomach). Well, this particular time I didn’t need to save much, so a growling stomach was successfully avoided. What I was saving for was a set of somewhat realistic-looking stick-on tattoos that had surfaced at the little junk jewelry stalls at the “Дружба” metro station. They were almost perfect; as close as I could get to the real thing back then.

The inception of my tattoo obsession, embarrassingly, came from the Aqua front woman of the fiery red bangs, the Barbie girl herself, Lene Nystrom. Or her eagle tattoo anyway. The sugary pop of Aqua’s music was no longer just brain candy for me but rather my anthem of rebellion as I imagined the possibility of non-conformism looking so cool. The 14 year old me, I was captivated.

This predilection of mine was fed and strengthened by the society’s response to my little stick-on barbed wire arm band: some people loved it, some people hated it, but no one was indifferent. Being a walking research study in anthropology and sociology was thrilling. And thus, the stick-up tattoo market got the benefit of my lunch money.

I started noticing the old and faded army tattoos elderly men displayed on their knuckles like flags of their unending allegiance to their military units of old.  I fished a story about my great aunt Zabelle and her tattoos out of my dad. Poor unsuspecting dad, I wonder if he had any idea what I was going to use that story as a basis for.

Since then, my arms and chest have bloomed with a multitude of tattooed flowers, the insides of my elbows advise about the benefits of forgetfulness, and I’m eager to get more body art and currently shopping for an artist.

For some tattoos are purely aesthetic, for others they are deeply meaningful and emotional. For some they are about the result, for other about the process of tattoing itself. For some they are a source of pride, for others they become permanent reminders of a regrettable past to be erased by a painful and costly laser procedure. To me tattoos are a way of self-expression, my aesthetic interpretation of the concept of beauty, my faith in wearing your heart on your sleeve, my proof that even though I can’t commit to much of anything, I can commit to body art.