Haruka Sakaguchi/The New York Times

August 25, 2022


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The tattoo parlor looked exactly like I’d expected it to look. The decor was, well, aggressive – laden with Marvel and Star Wars paraphernalia, mildly misogynistic jokes (questionable) and signs that instructed you that there’d be a $5 dollar fee for whining.

Yet, I was not dissuaded by all this, as I had researched my tattoo artist well and knew he was adept at creating the kind of delicate tattoo I wanted. Also, the sound of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” blaring from the stereo seemed to curb the severity of the moment. 

It seems everyone I meet these days is “tatted.” More often than not, the tattoos stand to memorialize something and represent an important part of someone’s story. My friend’s tattoos memorialize his many years spent in the Navy and his heritage. Some of my other friends have tattoos that were more of a spur of the moment thing — meant to capture the excitement of a single night. My best friend’s tattoos capture her wit and adventurous spark.

I thought about my tattoo for a really long time. I thought about everything it represented, and how it just seemed like it belonged on my skin.

Evidently, a tattoo is an indelible mark. I’d imagine the permanence of a tattoo is what dissuades the vast majority of people from getting one, as was the case with me for a very long time.

Later on though, the immutability of the tattoo itself is what made it seem more attractive in my eyes. I liked the potential risk this permanence posed as well as the fact that it bestowed the tattoo itself with quite a lot of importance. Even the idea of getting a tattoo that faded in a couple years (which is possible) did not seem as appealing to me as a permanent one, since in my eyes it undermined the gravity of the tattoo itself.

A close friend asked me,

“What will you do if you don’t like it in two years?”

A family member suggested I sit on the idea for a year or two and then make up my mind.

Sometimes, though, something feels like it should be memorialized in a timely manner. Not 10 years down the road, when one can’t necessarily recall all of its potency.

Further, to address the concern of not liking a tattoo down the road, I pose this point: haven’t there been parts of ourselves (physical and non-physical) that we haven’t initially loved but learned to accept and even like in the future? 

Can’t a tattoo be thought of the same way?

So in 10 years time, I don’t think I’ll be capable of hating my tattoo, as I would have likely already accepted it as a part of me.

Moreover, I’m sure the existing public perception of tattoos as somewhat “trashy” or unprofessional is another factor that dissuades some people from getting a tattoo.

I hope someday the workplace can lose this stigma, and instead recognize tattoos as an important part of personal expression — so important in fact that some endure hours of pain to obtain one.

I simmered on these thoughts as I laid down on the table preparing for what could only be described as three minutes of immense pain. After the skin-drilling ceased, the pain subsided, and a dainty little (albeit crooked) tattoo emerged exactly as I’d wanted it to look.

Lena Thakor is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].