What Does It Mean??

One of the most common questions that people with tattoos hears is “so what does your tattoo mean?” While this question mostly comes from curious, well-meaning strangers in the line at the grocery store, it is nonetheless annoying. My response is usually something along the lines of “nothing…it’s just art.”

People get tattoos for so many different reasons; some meaningful, some not so much. Tattoos with obvious meanings like patriotism or memorializing a loved one seems to legitimize the tattoo to the older generation. As if the tattoo is only acceptable if it has some deep, emotional meaning to the wearer. But what if it doesn’t? What if we are moving into an era where body art can be just that; art.

People with virgin skin often wonder aloud to those with ink about what they should get and what it means to them. I always tell people to go with their gut, if it feels right then do it! Even if you hate the tattoo when you are 80 years old, who cares you’ll be 80 years old!

For me I look at my tattoos as a timeline of specific points in my life. Each tattoo represents asnapshot of my life and as I get older it is a constant reminder of the placesI’ve been, the people I’ve met, and the things I’ve done. Does that mean that I will still love all of
the art I’ve chosen in 50 years? It’s probably not likely seeing as how that has already happened. Its true, I do not still love the Celtic tribal design on the top of my foot, but it does remind me of the day I turned 18 with six of my girlfriends crowded into a tiny shop in our tiny college town. That was a great day, I remember feeling so alive and happy. That feeling is going to be associated with that tattoo forever. So while the soccer mom at the grocery store sees a faded Celtic tribal tattoo on my foot, I see my history and that is enough “meaning” for me.

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