Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Written by:  Christy Trent:  At 40 something I was finally brave enough to do it. I got my first tattoo this year. After watching countless episodes of tattoo drama shows and reading books about the history I realized that everyone seems to have a story behind their skin art; a memorial for a loved one, representation for a difficult time in their life, or perhaps names and dates of special events. Always marching to the beat of a different drummer, I didn’t have a clear idea or design in my head, although I knew I wanted one. As I looked through hundreds of tattoos at the parlor, an idea began to form in my mind. Wanting something colorful and dainty I viewed delicate bird designs. Two designs stood out, bluebirds and hummingbirds. Both have a symbolism in American culture.
    The Swallow, also known as a bluebird, got its legendary status with sailors. Since sailing was so dangerous men would get a swallow tattooed on their chest after completing a thousand miles at sea. The swallow symbolizes honor, faith, love, hope, and courage.
    The hummingbird represents love, joy, beauty, and because a hummingbird hovers over a flower sipping the nectar he reminds us to savor each moment and appreciate the things we love.
    Since I really haven’t done anything courageous enough to deserve a swallow, I decided on a hummingbird with tail feathers forming a heart. The symbolism for me is appreciating the things I love.
    Then the next step was actually sitting for the tattoo. Wow, it hurt, but thankfully since I chose something small the pain didn’t last for long.
    The book, Permanence: Tattoo portraits, by Hip Fulbeck, is a beautifully illustrated book featuring celebrities and civilians, their tattoos and the reasons for getting them. Some, like me, don’t have a life changing experience reason for their tattoos, but most in the book do.
     One young man with Japanese American roots tattooed serial numbers on his arm to remind him of his parents interment in American camps during WW2.
     An older woman tattooed a huge pink ribbon circling her neck and down her chest after battling breast cancer.
    “Never forget,” is tattooed on a marine who lost comrades in the Iraq war.
     A triangular symbol of the trinity is tattooed on one young woman’s foot to remind her that no matter what she goes through God is always there.
       Tattoos no longer seem to have the same negative stigma attached to them they had years ago. It seems these days everyone has one. If you are thinking about a tattoo or just want to read about them, head over to your local library for a book.
    Next tattoo I get, (did I say next? Yikes!) it will have deep meaning behind it. Maybe a turning point in my life or an insight that has finally broken through to me, or perhaps a special date. But then again, I really would like a pretty, colorful flower tattooed on the very top of my foot just for the sheer beauty of it…

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