Body modifications have become increasingly common and acceptable in the past decade, but tattoos still remain a polarizing subject. I used to be someone who never wanted a tattoo and was positive I’d never get one. Then, last summer, I had a sudden urge to get one, and two weeks later, I had sizable ink on my thigh with no special meaning or reason behind it.
Growing up, I wasn’t discouraged from tattoos by my parents at all. Since I never showed interest, we never talked about it. When I brought the design I had in mind to them — an Old West style line drawing I found through an online deep dive — they were indifferent, but reminded me that I’d have their support no matter what.
Now, every time I wear shorts, I inevitably get asked by strangers, “What does it mean?” My answer? “Nothing at all.”
Tattoos are a personal decision, and many people get them to remember loved ones, pets, scripture and so on. I think that’s great, but it’s also what put me off tattoos for so long. I couldn’t think of a single thing so meaningful and important to me that I’d sit through hours of painful pokes and jabs.
The sudden realization that my tattoo could just be a picture I liked was so shocking and exciting that I got the whole process completed in two weeks or so. Looking back, it’s clear to me that this realization was compounded by my COVID-19 anxiety and fear of fleeting youth. If I didn’t get a big, random tattoo right now, when was I going to?
While the tattoo itself has no explicit meaning, I like to view it as a representation of my state of mind and where I was in life when I got it. I remember all of the little details, like the hot June weather that made the warm leather chair sweaty or my best friend talking to the tattoo artist while they, thankfully, continued to work without distraction. Luckily, that chit-chat did distract me from the searing pain.
The perception that a tattoo must have a meaning is outdated, and I’m seeing more and more Generation Zers with cool tattoos that aren’t deep, just fun. There are so many different ways to decorate yourself with tattoos — art style, placement, colors — that the possibilities are infinite.
So why did I get a meaningless tattoo without serious forethought or consideration? Because I wanted to, and frankly, no further explanation is owed.
Since then, I haven’t actively been working toward getting another tattoo, but I can see myself getting several more in the next few years. Here’s to hoping 2022 is filled with silly little tattoos that will look rad when this generation is old and wrinkled.
Emma Trevino is a senior reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @itsemmatr
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