“Don’t you think you’re gonna regret them when you get older?”
This question has been posed to me countless times since I got my first tattoo at the age of 18. I currently have 20 tattoos, and my answer is still the same: “No, why would I?”
We might be living in 2015 now, but getting a tattoo is still a stigma amongst many conservative societies – especially for Asian women. I guess it’s because many people associate tattoos to the triads, and expect Asian women to be docile and “classy” with porcelain skin unmarked by scars or ink. To date, I can’t walk down the street without getting typecast as a kid who’s up to no good. In professional situations, I know that some of my peers are not able to take me seriously because of my tattoos. Here’s my question I’m posing back to these people: “How does what I choose to put on my skin affect my intellect or my capabilities at work?”
And if I were to regret my tattoos, what’s it got to do with anyone? Many people think that tattoos are addictive, and that once you get one, you’ll get hooked on the feeling and keep going back for more. While I might not deny that, I won’t go as far to say that we don’t think before we ink. It’s our bodies, we know that a tattoo is forever (unless you choose to laser it off), so trust us when we say we do know what we’re doing when we book an appointment to get inked. Except for my first tattoo (a tribal butterfly which I’ve since covered up), I’ve never regretted a single of the 19 other tattoos I’ve put on my body.
For those wondering why a cupcake, why a mermaid, why an ice-cream, why a cherry, why Totoro. For every one of these “Why” questions, my response is this: “Why not?” I know for sure that many of my fellow tattoo enthusiasts out there treat their bodies as a canvas and continue to add to their art piece as time goes by. We don’t do it to look cool (trust me, there are better ways to be cool) or to shock people, we do it for us. I love cupcakes and ice-cream, I read the Bible and want to remind myself of my favourite hymn and to always have faith, I travel a lot and want a mermaid to guard over me, I am a Gemini and proud of it, I want to always indulge my inner child, I love poetry, I’m intrigued by old school Americana and traditional Japanese tattoo techniques, I like the idea of eternity beyond this life.
There’s always a bigger picture with tattoos – it’s a commitment. I can’t stop you from throwing me a look of disdain when you catch a glimpse of my cupcake tattoo. Neither can I cause you to cease judging me or others who have tattoos. But what I can do is make this clear once and for all: this is my body and I will continue to do what I want with it because I can. Truth is, I’m not a rebel with a cause. To put it simply, I just like collecting art.