Oh how I love tattoos, piercings, tribal markings and cultural beautification. Tribal scarring and tattoos are my personal favourite. I have one tiny tattoo below the fold of my arm which I absolutely adore as my gateway into the fantastic world of body alteration. Ok so I have my ears pierced, a nose piercing and one tiny tattoo, this does not exactly make me “the girl your parents warned you about” or even the best spokesperson for body modification but I am fascinated. This is a world I plan to delve deeper into and explore sects and sub-sects of throughout the world as soon as I create the opportunity for me to do so.
Body modification and art is a way for many across the modern world to express inner thoughts in an external way. I crave tattoos like I crave black coffee in the mornings, badly. When people say that tattoos are addictive they are not playing, and this has worried some in my family.
Despite coming from a fairly liberal black South African family, tattoos were not things that were common despite our liberal nature. Tattoos were not common so there was some uncertainty as to how one might be received, but the assumption always tended to the worst possible outcome, a scolding and verses from the Bible being recited. Turns out I completely misjudged my darling family. My cousin was the first to get it, approximately two odd years before me, I must admit, there were murmurs disapproval but nothing really to pay particular attention to. I got mine to surprised expressions at home and a few “what’s that thing?”. My paternal aunts and uncles pretend that they have never seen it and make fun of my, oh but my maternal family, whoa, boy do they lecture me.
For the most part I have received little to no backlash both personally or professionally despite it being a rather visible fixture on my body. This makes me wonder if only certain types of tattoos are socially acceptable. Are small demure tattoos acceptable and bold colourful art pieces, as worn by some in my circles, remain unacceptable. I have picked this up on the sorts of comments they would receive in everyday interactions and over social media, most comments around how this decision will be regretted for years to come and how the piece in question is bound to sag and become ugly. I guess mine is pretty and socially accepted so I get no flack.
What I love most about tattoos and beautification is that the can either be deeply intimate additions or trivial but no matter what, they are immensely personal. So don’t go grabbing random stranger’s arms to get a better look.