Why I Want a Tattoo and Why I Can't Have One

    I’ve always been interested in tattoos. I love the way they look peeking out of necklines, featured boldly on shoulders, even little ones hiding on the back of a neck or lying quietly behind an ear. I especially like black outlines. I love being able to see how the tattoo interacts with the skin underneath, not concealing anything with bold colors and designs, but drawing attention to the muscles in someone’s forearm or back, by delicately dancing over the skin.

    I have very distinct memories of my grandmother declaring her disgust for tattoos. My grandmother is a very accepting, forward-thinking, woman. She is technologically savvy, fashionable, up to date on the youths, and barely raised an eyebrow when I got my nose pierced. But even looking at a tattoo and she immediately cries, “You would never get one of those would you?” Forget about arguing with her, the only thing to do is smile and nod, she won’t settle for any other answer. One day we were having one of these exchanges after a waiter had served us food from a beautifully tattooed arm. I was with my mom, aunt, and cousin as well, and I remember my aunt even commenting on how “those tattoos were actually very tastefully done”. I couldn’t stop staring at the intricate sleeve each time he walked by, but my grandmother responded to my aunt by turning to my cousin and I and declared, “If you ever get a tattoo I’ll take you out of my will.” And that was the end of the conversation.

    Now I have many friends who either have tattoos or are in the process of planning out their tattoos. I’ve even taken one of my friends to get her tattoo. When I told my family this, their reaction was to ask, “But you didn’t get one right?” This question has always frustrated me. I have a design for a tattoo all planned out. I’ve sketched it endlessly in each of my notebooks, even on my arm, trying to get a feel for how it would look permanently etched on my skin. My little brother and I have even schemed to get matching tattoos for his 18th Birthday. We’ve gone so far as to pick out those designs as well, choosing images that represent a lot to us both.

    In the end, the decision is mine. I know my family, and I am lucky enough to be confident that tattoos and all, I will be loved unconditionally. I am extremely lucky. However, part of this relationship I have with my relatives is give and take. We respect each other, call each other on Birthdays, send pictures of important milestones in our lives, celebrate major holidays together, take the time to enjoy being a part of such an incredible family. If tattoos are something they just cannot get around, then as a member of the Breckenridge family, I have to respect that. I am actively making this choice to leave my skin blank and to express myself in other ways that my family can get on board with. I still believe that tattoos are beautiful and very meaningful, and will continue to admire them from afar, but tattoos on my body will be the temporary kind.