My Southern born and raised mother always assured me that I would regret it if I were to act on my long desire to get a tattoo. She would spouted soliloquies along the lines of "people change" and "you'll never like that same things throughout your entire life." She thought I was fickle and perhaps I was. My teenage years remained ink-free. Today I have 6. One took hours, others only minutes - but they are full of meaning no matter their size.
Maybe the South hasn't quite caught up with the rest of the world because my permanent art is often brought up at family gatherings. I would be asked "why I would do such a thing to my body?" The first job I took after moving to Chattanooga required me cover all my tattoos as if they had some weight on the validity of the company. I've even heard grand statements like: "you're being destructive." Never once have I viewed tattoos as destructive. Perhaps it was my time in India studying Buddhism or maybe it was my years modeling that counseled me to accept that this body is not permanent. So how can I be destructive to an entity that is already fading? Zen Buddhist Dogen Zenji said "Your body is like a dew-drop on the morning grass, your life is as brief as a flash of lightning. Momentary and vain, it is lost in a moment." My tattoos are somewhat a practice of such meditation. They are mechanisms in my life for defining my character and solidifying my identity. They mark of happenings. They have been my comfort during loss and pain. They've empowered me when I've been broken and acted as a marker for a personal shift in perspective. They have meaning that can't be explained or understood until one has experienced such for themselves.
When I comes down to answering the absurd question of "why?" I find that everyone has a different reason. Rebellion, art, or to capture a moment in time. Conclusively, the "why" doesn't matter because those asking don't want to understand tattoos to begin with. For the rest of us, they are our sanctuary, our comfort, or confidence and they ultimately just become us.
Photos by Lindsey Lowe
Clothes by Morgan of Fredonia