Wednesday 17 October 2012


I begin with a confession: I grew up believing that tattoos were wrong (especially for Christians), along with long hair and piercings on men.  Actually tattoos probably topped the list of unacceptable body modifications.  I can't quite believe that's how I viewed the world; a result of parents who were of a more conservative generation and background, growing up in a church in the 1990s, and living in Basingstoke - not exactly the heights of culture and liberalism.  I should also note that for a long time I thought it was wrong for women to wear makeup, but had no good foundation (haha) for this belief apart from the fact that my mum didn't wear it due to skin allergies.  It's funny the conclusions we come to.  I apologise to anyone I judged in my 9-year-old head.  Seriously.  I'm glad to say that no one I know now still holds to those beliefs, yes they might not be to my parents taste, but they'd never say a piercing or two was wrong.  That's a very important distinction (between taste and right/wrong), in so many areas of belief, especially religious belief and expression, isn't it?

But back to topic.  Look how far I've come.  I have my ears pierced several times, my nose and lip.  My husbands has ear stretchings and four tattoos.  And last week I had my first tattoo done.  This is the part where I discover how open-minded Mum and Dad have become... uhhh Surprise!?! :-)

There's a few things that have contributed to my change of opinion.  I suppose it's been mainly being in places where tattoos and piercings are the norm, rather than the exception - in Brighton, Sevilla and Ibiza.
Rather than just a few old ex-prisoners with a skull and crossbones on their arms, EVERYONE has tattoos these days!  And while there's still a lot that I don't like - many are the same, unoriginal, or very dark (why do so many people have images of death and evil marked onto their skin??  What is the attraction?!), there are also plenty that are interesting, creative and beautiful.  Tattoo artists are just that - ARTISTS, with so much skill. Respekt. I've realised that I, Katrina, actually quite like how some piercings and some tattoos look.  I think they can express personality and belief in fun and eye-catching ways, in the same way that a hair cut or new outfit can.  Perhaps it's because I'm too lazy to make an effort everyday with jewellery, makeup and hair styles that I chose more permanent methods of decoration!

Which leads me to explore two of those words in a bit more detail (trains of thought flowing...)

decoration - is it a celebration of creativity, or a way of hiding?  Is it a decision to stand out or to blend in?  To draw attention to ourselves or to disguise who we really are.  Do we modify our bodies because we are not satisfied with the way we are?  Do I have piercings because I think my face is too boring without them?  These are valid questions, but I think they can be applied in the same way to buying new clothes or shoes or using makeup, which are all deemed far more acceptable.

permanence - piercings can be removed but those inky etches are with us forever.  I think it's very hard for our generation to get our heads around permanence.  Everything around us is constantly changing, growing, developing.  In a topsy-turvy way perhaps it's our focus on 'living in the moment' that makes us care less about future consequences of long-lasting decisions (think about all the people who get their lovers name carved into their arm, only to regret it a year or two down the line).  Are tattoos just 'fashionable' at the moment (which is ironic since fashion changes constantly!)?  As with many things, something that started off being anarchic/alternative/shocking has become mainstream.  Perhaps lost its power to communicate a message?  I don't know, maybe it depends on where you are and who you're around.

Anyways, these are just a few ponderings on the matter.  I am no expert.  But I do think it's important to consider our motives in the decisions we make about our bodies.  At the same time, let's be colourful and creative and imaginative!  I'm really happy with the tattoo I've got.  It's pretty! :-)  It's hidden away so only a few will ever see it, but it says something that has meant a lot to me over the past few years, and will, I hope, inspire me to live life in the way I believe it should be lived.  

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