Long Story Short: Getting tattooed is like decorating an apartment

Decorating my body with tattoos has empowered me to love it more

Illustrated by Tiffany Chan

By: Molly Lorette, SFU Student

When I was younger, I had a bit of a phobia of needles. Whenever we had our vaccines in school, I would have major anxiety and would more than likely cry. Naturally, I never thought that I would ever get any tattoos, nor did I really have much of an interest in them. Then, a close friend of mine got her first tattoo when we were around 17. After that, I began toying with the idea of getting one of my own. Growing up I had always been the kid that drew on themselves, so why not make that childhood whimsy into something a bit more permanent than a Sharpie marker?

Finally, a few weeks after my 19 birthday, I was finally able to afford one of my own. Admittedly, it isn’t one of the nicer pieces of art I have on my body today. Looking at it now, it has some line weight inconsistencies, some parts where the ink has since faded into my skin, and a slight blowout or two (that’s when the ink spreads underneath your skin, creating a shadow-like appearance). But that day, I had never felt more confident. For months after, I loved pulling up my sleeves to my elbows to show off my new skin-friend. Nothing felt better than showing off. I thought, “Hey, look at me! I braved a tattoo needle! I have art on my body!” Within the next two months, I had already booked my next tattoo appointment. 

Photo: Molly Lorette

A little over two and a half years later, my current tattoo count is at around eight, with my ninth booked in and my deposit sent. While I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself a true “tattooed person,” I’ve certainly been under the needle a fair amount, and have several visible pieces in my day-to-day life. When you hear that tattoos can be addicting, they really aren’t kidding. The rush of finding a tattoo artist, saving up, and getting that sick post-tattoo high is unlike anything else I’ve really experienced. While I love the process itself, nothing is better than having an expression of yourself on display to the world. I know that it’s a common misconception that tattoos have to mean something, but even if it’s just something that sparks joy, it is still something that holds significance.

To use my own tattoos as an example, I literally have a frog with a pointy hat and a beard tattooed right smack dab in the middle of my arm. Why? It was such a fun idea that made me smile whenever I thought of it that I absolutely had to get it. #NoRagrats. Do I still look at it and crack a grin? Hell yes. 

Photo: Molly Lorette

As someone who has issues feeling at home within my own skin, there’s something therapeutic about placing decorations within my space. It makes me that much more excited about having a physical, fleshy form. Even if there are certain body parts that I don’t like as much as others, it’s fun to have a beautiful piece of artwork to look at instead. I like to think of it somewhat as if I am moving into a new apartment: while it could be totally different for somebody who has a minimalist aesthetic, and in this analogy, doesn’t like tattoos, I don’t feel as though I can really live to my fullest potential without a bit of personality in my space. Even if it isn’t my ideal living condition, it makes me feel a little bit more in control. Same deal with tattoos! Empowerment can come in many different forms, and as someone who has always found joy in aesthetics, this is simply one more medium for me to utilize.