Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Life > Experiences

Wearing My Heart Out on My Sleeve: Why I Get Tattoos

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Queen's U chapter.

I have always loved tattoos. As a kid, I sprinted to the airbrush tattoo station whenever there was a fair in town. At any birthday party, I would be first in line at the face painting station. I would let my one dance friend who did Henna tattoos practice on me because I loved having the art on my body, even if it was not permanent. 

I am trying to remember where this fascination with tattoos and the art of tattooing came from in the first place. I can’t remember if it was a childhood movie character or maybe I was obsessed with Tris’s tattoos from the Divergent novels, but what I did know was that as soon as I turned eighteen, I would get a tattoo. Funny enough, though, I got my first tattoo at seventeen.

Whenever I see someone with a tattoo, I want to ask them about it. I want to hear the story behind it. I want to know if it honours someone in their family or if it’s a little Pinterest tattoo they had their eye on for a day. Whatever meaning or lack of meaning there is, I wanted to know why they committed to tattooing something so permanent on their body. 

The beauty in tattoos comes from the commitment one has when making a permanent mark on themselves. To honour something or someone they love so much, or just because they are feeling impulsive. I want to know why they feel so connected to a song lyric that they just had to get “to live for the hope of it all” tattooed on their forearm. Tattoos, to me, are inviting, unthreatening, and expressive—none of which are the adjectives I heard my family describe tattoos growing up. I never understood why! My grandmother is an artist who expresses herself through paintbrushes on a canvas. So why am I unprofessional because I express myself through needles and ink on my skin? 

Of course, criminal culture has an influence on how people view tattoos. However, that is not the majority. Trends will change and how society views certain deviant behaviours will too. Tattoos have been around for centuries, and I will never let a corporate executive tell me that I won’t get a job just because I have a bunny tattooed above my elbow. It honours my mom and my childhood! Why is that unprofessional? Just because I am a person who expresses myself through the art of tattoos does not mean I am deviant, a rebel, or someone unbecoming. I am brave enough to give strangers a hint into who and what I love. I am committed to who I am, so much so that I will permanently alter my skin. I am willing to risk a little bit of a squiggly line (mostly because I cannot sit still) for the big picture, which is a tattoo I got to honour my brothers. 

No matter what point I am at regarding my relationship with my body, I will always love my tattoos. They add to who I am. They tell a story. They add a certain elusiveness to what strangers see when they look at me, and I think it is welcoming and warm to see a person who is so committed to who they are and what they believe in so passionately. They wear their heart out on their sleeve. 

Milla Ewart

Queen's U '23

Described by the New York Times as a "Full-Time Fool."