My first memory of tattoos are the anchors on Popeye's arms, courtesy of Saturday morning cartoons. As a teen my brother Ken loved Ozzy Osbourne, and at one point got his fingers similarly tattooed. This was quite scandalous at the time, and I believe it was a homemade job, which made it even worse. My parents were disapproving, and I, being a “good girl,” was also disapproving at the time. Ken acquired more tattoos as a US Marine, but eventually he got the finger tattoos removed.
I myself had a moment not long after giving birth to our third son when I found myself alone in a tattoo parlor on a random morning after dropping kids at Mother's Day Out. I didn't tell anyone, not even my husband, what I was doing. It was MY thing, and I knew what I wanted, and I wasn't interested in hearing anyone else's opinion about it. Was I afraid I'd get talked out of it? Maybe. Was I afraid others wouldn't approve? Definitely. But the great thing about being a woman in the US the very first year of a new century was that I could go get a tattoo, if I wanted to, and I didn't need anyone's permission to do it. So, now, that tattoo has come to symbolize freedom and independence for me – a tiny secret thing that reminds me I can think for myself, make my own choices. I can share it with others, or not. It has nothing to do with anyone else, and everything to do with me being ME. I suspect that's what tattoos mean to most people. They are part of one's identity, a celebration of self. And frankly, anyone else's tattoos are none of my business. Get them, or don't. Just be you!