Getting My First Tattoo

My parents have never been on board with the idea of me or my sister getting tattoos. When we would see someone in public with their tattoos openly showcased to the world, they would tell us, “promise me you won’t end up like that.” Being the good daughter I am, I blindly agreed with my parents and went on with my life. However, as I got older, my desire to get a tattoo grew. When I first told my mom that I wanted to get a tattoo during the summer of 2019, she told me to wait until my birthday. I’m sure she thought I was being impulsive and would give up on the idea in six months. But on December 7th, a day before my 20th birthday, I got my first tattoo.

The first thing I needed to decide was what I wanted tattooed on my body. I’ve always wanted my first tattoo to represent something important to me, and not just a spur of the moment decision. Since I grew up in Singapore, I wanted the tattoo to represent the country I grew to love or my unique childhood. During the summer of 2018, I landed on a design I found on Pinterest of a wave turning into a sun. I thought it could represent the island of Singapore and my love for the beach. Half a year later, I didn’t really think the tattoo was exactly what I wanted.

During the spring of 2019, my childhood cat died. Her name was Jazzy, and she was my very best friend. We adopted her in 2005 when she was just a crazy, energetic kitten. She was with me through every move, every heartbreak, every accomplishment, and every year of school. As dumb as it may sound, we had a unique connection of understanding. Whenever I felt down, she knew and comforted me with her soothing purr and gentle licks. When she died in February, I knew I had to honor her and keep her close to me.

I picked a simple cursive  J initial to get tattooed on my wrist. I initially wanted it on the inside of my wrist, but all the tattoo forums strongly advised against getting your first tattoo there because it is extremely painful. I settled with the outside of my wrist instead, where there is more fat to cushion the needle.

I went to Del Rey Tattoo, which is just down the bluff from LMU, where my roommate got her first tattoo last year. I knew that she had a good experience there, and my tattoo wasn’t too intricate, so I trusted them to do a good job. I went in and they asked me to send them a picture of the tattoo I wanted. They then took my photo and created a stencil out of it that they would use as a guide. They placed the stencil on me and asked if that was how I wanted it. I would say the pain level of my tattoo was maybe a 3, only because I had a bruise on my arm that the tattoo artist kept pressing down on. It took maybe ten minutes and it was $80. 

Taking care of my tattoo after was pretty easy and straightforward, I just had to keep it clean by washing it three times a day. To keep the skin moisturized as it went through the healing process, I applied a thin layer of Cetaphil. It took about two weeks to fully heal after scabbing. I am still in love with my tattoo and the meaning it carries. I am able to look down and feel the same assurance and love that my first and forever friend gave me for 13 years.


The last photo I got with Jazzy:


The process in pictures:

The Stencil:


A couple minutes after, with a saran wrap “bandage.” I was instructed to only leave this on for two hours:


A couple hours after, without the saran wrap:


After it’s all healed up a few weeks later: