Not long ago I posted on Facebook asserting that it is my goal to be the last non-tattooed person on the planet. The statement was supposed to be a joke and I think most people got that, except maybe my sister who has a lovely little butterfly tattoo and very delicate feelings. (Sorry, Kelly. Love you! xo)
But part of it wasn’t a joke. You see, I don’t really like tattoos. And some people will automatically interpret this as, “I HATE YOUR TATTOO”, which is not true. I do hate some tattoos but I’m sure yours is really nice, especially if you are a gigantic, meth addicted biker who knows where I live.
Let me be ultra clear. I don’t like tattoos for myself. I don’t see the point of it. I like my big ol’ blank body, wrinkles and moles (of which, I have several,) and all. To me, my blank skin possesses all the possibilities of a blank sheet of paper—any story could be written here!
This is the part where you tell me how your tattoo has a special significance and it marks the day you:
- Left your abusive ex
- Had your first child
- Buried your mother
- Lost your virginity
- Found your virginity
- Base jumped off the Sears Tower
- Quit meth
- Joined a biker gang
- Started doing meth again
This is also the part where I say, “I know, I know!” because I realize that by telling you how I feel about my body I have somehow unintentionally denigrated or ridiculed how you feel about your body.
Relax. Breathe in. Breathe out.
When I talk about what I like for my body, it’s all about me. 100% about me. There is no comment on you—pinky swear. Though perhaps if your first reaction is defensiveness that’s worth a moment of pondering.
I don’t have tattoos and never will have tattoos, unless that biker gang guy drags me off to his biker gang clubhouse and forces one upon me. I don’t have any piercings either, except for my ears, which happened when I was thirteen and involved me nearly fainting. I have not worn earrings for well over a decade and those holes are no longer holes. I call them “ear lobe dimples” now.
When I was younger, body decoration of all sorts excited me. Big hair, big make-up, big clothes, oh baby, size does matter! Looking back, I know where that all came from—I was a weirdo in Straightsville. I was not fully able to embrace my weirdness but it needed to come out. My solution? Wear my weirdness on the outside and shove it in everyone’s face. LOOK UPON ME, ALL YOU NORMAL PEOPLE, AND DESPAIR! I did everything I possibly could—everything that would not get me permanently grounded—to express myself via my body.
Back then, in the olden days, tattoos were still an act of rebellion. Only punkers, rockers, bikers, members of the military, sailors, and criminals got tattoos. Usually they were ugly blue-ish blotches, though artistic tattoos were becoming more popular by the time I was almost old enough to legally get one. And I was certain I would get one because I was so out there, so bad ass, so “fringe”. My first tattoo would pay homage to one of my favourite comic book characters, the wacky-yet-clinically-insane Badger. Yo, Larry! (Still one of the best comic books of all time, in my not-humble opinion).
I’d gone so far as to pick a spot for the stylistic badger paw when I received the unsettling news that tattoos required getting stabbed with a needle about one billion times. Um…no. I would just have to find some other way to prove my bad assery to the world.
All I can say about that is: Whew. I still remember Badger with fondness but not with enough fondness to want that memory permanently stamped onto my flesh.
My forms of expression changed over the years but when I started doing stunts everything changed completely. Who *I* was no longer mattered—my job was to pretend to be other people. That turned out to be great fun and a form of expression in its own right. Today I might be a ninety-seven-year-old grandma, tomorrow a zombie, the next day a spaceship captain (I did get to be that sometimes—most awesome thing ever!). I became the canvas upon which other lives were painted and I liked it. In my “real” life, everything came down ten levels. My days were spent training, which meant I lived in workout clothes, hair in a ponytail, no make up. Gradually, I found this new blankness liberating.
Today I am so comfortable in my own skin that even clothes often seem a nuisance. “Man, do I really have to waste time putting on pants again?! HEAVY SIGH!”
Yes, I actually say “HEAVY SIGH” instead of sighing. I am an artiste.
The most interesting things about me do not exist on my epidermis, but inside my cranium. I think therefore I am wonderful. My brain is a chaotic but happy place where raging thought blizzards gyre across the psychedelic plains of emotion. I’m still weird, I think, but I can finally embrace my weirdness and I’ve found a much more satisfying method of expressing it. I no longer need to make myself into a walking billboard.
I write stories. Those are my tattoos. They are permanent and each has a special significance, marking the day when:
- I finally left my abusive ex
- I buried my mother
- I found my biological mother and siblings
- I met my true love
No image on my skin could ever mean as much to me as one of my stories and hopefully, unlike my skin, those stories will live on long after my chaotic brain ceases to exist.
I am glad you have your tattoos. Rock on, and bear your marks with pride. Everyone needs a way to tell their story. Everyone needs a way to shout, “This is who I am! This is what matters to me!”, even if only to themselves.
But it’s not my way and never will be.
I am not inkless, however.
If you want to see my ink, look between the covers of my books.