The Importance of Tattoos

Tattoos are a form of art. They are a beautiful means of self expression that allow you to turn your body into your own personal art gallery. You probably have conservative friends or family who make it clear that tattoos disgust them. Who cares? Tattoos are beautiful and other people’s opinions of them should not be the reason you do not get one. Marking up your body will not take away your beauty or value.

I have one tattoo, a beautiful Oscar statue on my right forearm. It has easily become my favorite part of my body, and has given me a new dimension of depth and self-love. I cannot imagine a time before I had my Oscar. If I had a fat bank account, I would be covered in art/tattos (I’ve already mapped out most of my body and designed several tattoos).

Tattoos have been linked to better body image and I can’t help but agree–I started loving myself even more when I looked down and saw the masterpiece that is my Oscar on my arm. According to one study, right after getting tattoos, both men and women have higher self esteem because they feel more unique and they are likely to get another tattoo in the future.

My favorite use of tattoos is to turn bodily scars into art. This article has the perfect headline: Reclaiming Your Body. Many people have used tattoos to transform their surgery or mastectomy scars, turning the struggle they have gone through into something they think is beautiful. Any attempt to take back your body from something traumatizing is a good thing in my book.

Tattoos are important, but there are a lot of things you should know about them:

You are allowed to love your body, inked or not

I’ve said it before, but you deserve to hear it again. If you have tattoos, you do not have to feel ashamed of them if someone you know (or even someone you don’t) criticizes them. They should feel ashamed for trying to tell you how to use your body. Also, your tattoos may sag (chances are THEY WON’T) as you age, but who cares? When you’re 80, won’t you have bigger things to worry about than how the tattoos you’ve had, and loved your whole life, look? Or would you rather be the cool grandparent with the pretty pictures on her skin that will teach your grandchildren to love and decorate their bodies as they see fit?

Cultural appropriation is a NO

If I have to see one more white girl with an Om tattoo, I will lose my mind. I’m a proud Indian and Hindu girl, and it upsets me to see all these non-Hindus with Oms tattooed all over themselves. I don’t care if you like yoga because your fave (white) celebrity convinced you to start. I don’t care if you like Tikka Masala, which isn’t even real Indian food, by the way. Unless you are a Hindu, putting an Om on your body permanently is appropriation, and it is INAPPROPRIATE. You are taking a religion that many people look down upon and making it your fashion statement. My culture isn’t an accessory.

I also better not see any mandalas, dreamcatchers, sugar skulls, etc. on your body unless they are culturally yours.

Don’t be basic

Sorry, but you have no excuse. If you take a pencil and draw a line on a piece of paper, then your friend does the same thing, your lines won’t be identical. They never will be! What I’m trying to say is, you shouldn’t be able to Google your tattoo. Even if you want the birds or the cross, or the lips, or the anchor, or the arrows, or the infinity sign, or the word “wanderlust” (eye roll), or phases of the moon, or type script quotes, or the sound wave, or those stupid little emojis on your fingers (phew, I’m getting tired) find a way to make them individually yours. Stylize those birds in a different way, or just get one big, specific bird. Ask your artist (we’ll get to the importance of these next) to draw an outline of your anchor and fill it in with a design or image that means something to you. Or think of something you really, really love and stick it on your body. Your body is only yours, and you should honor it as the unique thing it is. Don’t Demi Lovato up your tattoo selection.

Your artist is in charge

Don’t be that person who is having a great time with your friends on a Friday night who sees a tattoo studio and decides to spontaneously get one done. You don’t know what they use, what their reputation is, how much they cost or how good their work is.

The best bet is to find one of your friends (or even a random stranger) who is covered in beautiful ink and ask them who their artist is, because if they keep going back to them, they must be good. If an artist refuses to tattoo you while you are under the influence, they’re a keeper. If they are great visual artists on and off skin, they’re a keeper. If they are able to provide you with actual ideas to improve your piece, rather than putting whatever you give them on your body: They. Are. A. Keeper.

Don’t get upside down tattoos

First of all, wrist tattoos are extremely painful so I don’t know why you would want to put yourself through that. Second, when you get a tattoo of text on your wrist that is facing you, it is technically upside down. Sure, we think it looks fine because that is how we are used to seeing them, but they will look so much better facing down. Your Instagram photo options will open up beyond the simple shot of a fist and a wrist.

People with tattoos, especially big, hard-to-avoid ones, know that the feeling of being the personal canvas to a piece of art is unmatched by most things. At the end of the day, remember that your tattoo is yours to love and take care of. And if the tattoo is really special, it will take care of you.