Several weeks ago, I wrote a column as a follow-up to one I had done ten years ago on tattoos. It is a subject that fascinates me and one that I also find mystifying. As I did in the first column a decade ago, I asked readers to tell me about their tattoos, why they got them, what they mean, and whether they regret getting inked.
Two readers responded this time with particularly rational and articulate emails, and I share parts of their responses below, with their permission, of course.
One came from Aissatou Sunjata, who also wrote to me ten years and who refers to herself as the “Tattooed Librarian.” Her first tattoo was done to commemorate a job, which quickly went south, and she regretted the tattoo. She has recently had what she says is her last tattoo, a dragonfly to cover that first one. There have been others in between.
Here is some of what Aissatou wrote.
“Now, at 56…I realize time and age have compelled me to show my position in life by doing something other than getting tattooed. Believe this final one makes eleven tattoos for me….Months ago, I was in a restaurant on Carolina Beach. There were two couples several years older than myself. One lady was overheard saying she could not imagine putting a tattoo on her body and how it would look as she become older and wrinkled. Another lady from the same table said how she would never put a tattoo on her body and vehemently she was opposed due to her religious beliefs. Well, I was getting ready to depart…and stopped by her table. I announced…how I was a former teacher and a librarian and have several tattoos. Upon students having expressed they too wanted a tattoo and could not wait until they became of age to get one, I would honestly give them ideas to consider. I would alert them how permanent a tattoo is to the body. I would compel them to think about what career, profession they intended to pursue. I would tell them that contrary to belief, tattoos are not as mainstream and accepted. Well, the woman who would not do so because of her religious beliefs began to recite to me according to the Word. Respectfully, I listened.
“My response to her was that I have proof God loves and blesses me often. Therefore, he must not be as disapproving, angry or against my having tattoos on my body as it seems to some humans. I wished them continued blessings and turned on my heels and departed. Before doing so, I think it was her husband I saw from the corner of my eye smiling at my response to his wife.”
Angela Livingston, also familiar with earlier columns on tattoo shared her thoughts as well. She works in a professional arena and says her colleagues are surprised when they learn of her tattoos, including a local judge. Angela wrote this.
“I was employed in a field where I worked closely with multiple community partners and I always remained professional. Therefore, adhering to a strict dress code was a must. My tattoos were always covered/hidden from the public and coworkers. For many of my professional associates, they would not have ever known I had tattoos if I had not told them (including Judge ___). I was not ashamed of the graphic art I chose to adorn my body with. I simply know what is expected and is accepted in the professional realm and I act accordingly. I have worked in various fields of child protection and prevention for over 20 years and my tattoos have never been an issue.
“It seems interesting that your curiosity remains active regarding the choice of others to express themselves via tattoo art. For me, a tattoo is simply an avenue of expression. To date, I have over 20 tattoos and I am proud of each choice…. I have not had a tattoo removed. In the Bible, God gave a command to the nation of Israel to not do as their neighbors and mark their bodies with symbols of their gods. I choose to not mark my body with any inappropriate symbols because my belief is in only one higher power than man. As followers, women are encouraged to be modest and not draw attention to one’s self with expensive clothing, gold and pearls, etc. Many women have already failed at that.
“As a strong, independent woman, I continue to wear my body art proudly and my tattoos remain covered when I am at work. I may choose to obtain additional tattoos in the future. It simply depends on what my internal spirit moves me to do.”
Clearly, our correspondents are grounded and secure women with similar outlooks on life, and I respect their choices and admire their confidence.
No tatts for your columnist yet, and likely never. That said, even though I did not realize it when I wrote about tattoos last month, I see now that I have done some mellowing over the last ten years myself.