As I sat back in the black, plastic wrapped chair, I felt the needle pierce my arm. There’s something exciting and soothing about the sensation of a needle penetrating my skin, over and over. Its gentle buzz comforts me.
“So, why Wonder Woman?” asked my artist, with equal parts curiosity and sweetness.
“I only had two female role models growing up: Wonder Woman and Chun Li. I already have a Chun Li tattoo.”
I’ve written previously about the importance of representation. While I felt passionate about the subject at the time, I thought that certain things related to influences and representation didn’t apply to me growing up. But the more I reflect and understand myself and how I’ve come to be who I am, the more I realise that I, too, have been strongly bound and influenced by the things around me, or lack thereof.
I only had two female role models growing up, both fictional. Those two facts in themselves say something to me about the number of role models that were available for young girls in the 90s . Both are strong, independent, kind, just. I look up to these fictional characters and I take inspiration from what they stand for and represent. I’ve been greatly influenced by them in childhood and adulthood.
Of course, not everyone has to pay tribute to their role models with tattoos, but as the number of available role models decreases, the importance of each one greatly increases.
“I don’t understand why people get tattoos,” the stranger declared. “What if your values change? What are you going to do when you get old?” he asked, knowing nothing of my values, life, or anything else he questioned.
“I’ve had these values for almost thirty years and I could die tomorrow. It’ll be another thirty years until I’m old, and I’d rather not waste them worrying about what will happen then, instead of living my life now.”
Putting the judgemental nature of the stranger’s line of questioning to one side, I don’t envisage a time when strength, independence, kindness or justice won’t be important to me. They have shaped who I am and how I live my life, and I’m happy with both.
I like art, and I like having it on my body. Some tattoos have meaning, some are just aesthetically beautiful, and others are something else or nothing at all.
I don’t need anyone else to understand my decisions in order to be happy with them. But maybe helping people to understand my decisions will help us to understand the world we live in, and the fascinating consequences of a butterfly’s flutter.