I had what most could consider a very unconventional childhood and youth. I literally spent time as a baby in a back room of a bar in a make shift “crib” fashioned from a beer box while my young mother worked as a beer maid at the local bar. Then, as a child, my adopted “mother” also would tote myself and step-sister to the bar she tended at where like Cheers, everyone knew our names. She would do this whether or not she was due for her shift. It was like a second home.
My step-mother also knew almost all the bikers from our small city and surrounding areas and we also frequented the biker bars as well. At a very young age, I was introduced to a subculture where tattoos were almost a prerequisite. I also lived right outside a military base and had civilian privileges and was familiar with how it was to grow up in a military town as well, where tattoo street shops, strip joints and bars dotted the landscape.
I always knew that when I grew older, I would become inked. Preferably to a degree where I really couldn’t just count my tattoos. If someone asked how many I had, I would be able to say, “enough.” I’m not even close to my goal yet, but I’ve got time. What I’m getting to is, “back in the day” when I got my first tattoo, 1997, because I was 18, most artists wouldn’t even touch your hands or highly visible areas if you weren’t already well inked. It was considered taboo.
The only type of people allowed to have face, neck, hand, other highly visible ink, were bikers, ex-cons, gang members, tattoo artists themselves, or maybe people that were employed in jobs where their appearance wasn’t branded ( Starbucks meh.) I’m going SOME place with all this. Tattoos now a days are just not a big fucking deal anymore. For the most part when I’m in public, I don’t even bat an eye when I see anyone that looks like a hipster with a full sleeve.
I think mainly because of Henry Rollins disapproving comment to someone I heard where he called her tatts “trust fund tattoos!” Yeah, if the truth was ever spoken, it was at that moment because he just summed up the way I’ve felt for a while about that subject. I grew up through both the punk and hardcore scene of Richmond, Va. I’ll tell you what I know about tattoos from then. The kids sporting the most ink where 9 times outta 10 middle class going to shops and putting their ink down on plastic.
I know this because my two over privileged “friends” at the time were middle class and would do this when they became of age because they were allowed access to their trust fund. So, usually going to shows, you could tell whom was truly poor as a lot of punks had home made tatts or not very many. For me, my ink is based off what I believe and don’t believe in and also contradictions as well. I have ancient designs, primitive, american traditional imagery, punk/hardcore type themes and some revenge based. I was accepted to University for Art History/Sociology, so Art had influenced my life considerably all throughout my academic career and life. I am visibly tattooed and have some designs that definitely are not what some would consider a female should own.
I have both hands inked ( not fully, works in progress ) and a small design by my eye as well. I forget about what I look like when I go out in public. I suppose just because I’m used to seeing myself and don’t think anything of owning a cross buster tattooed on my right upper middle finger knuckle. ( all christians love this design BTW ; )
I know there will be those of you thinking, well what makes you so legit? Well, like I explained, I GREW up in two different subcultures. First, the whole biker/bar/redneck deal and then when I was about 15 and began going to punk rock and hardcore shows. I had a very hard damn life growing up from a child to my youth, and even now as an adult, I still suffer from the trauma and pain of my past. No, I know I’m not the only person like myself, but what I’m trying to get across, is now a days ESPECIALLY, there aren’t very many legit real deal types out there. It’s all about the dollar and not the content. Think about the next time you see some dude walking around with his sleeve done in a “filler design” ( space spanning ) basically where the same design is repeated and usually almost always black.
Fuck it. It’s their money. But it doesn’t mean that I’m not going to making jokes in my head about it when I pass them by. So yeah, tattoos are personal, fucking duh. My man owns no ink. We’ve been together next year for 20 years and neither of us even owns one another’s name on each others body. Which YES, I do think is fucking taboo. Possibly his initials somewhere at some point, but it still makes me cringe. He’s not from a artistic/creative background like me. And, I love his mentality about getting inked. He says that he’s just not thought of anything he’d want to have for forever, so he just doesn’t want to get just “anything.” To me, that’s fucking cool and being a individual.
But, really when I’m in the nursing home and having to sit in a diaper and look at what I own. I’ll at least know that I was a warrior in my time and have all the scars and legit ink to prove my battles and the beliefs that I felt so strong about.