Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tattoos: Thinking about My Ink (Part 2)

Where did we leave off? Oh yea, I felt bad about how my mom would feel. She's staunchly against it. If anyone knows anything about African culture, tattoos and body markings are looked on as rather taboo, a thing for hooligans or people who worship idols. So my plan was to hide it from her.

Too bad I confessed in July. I may sometimes act like a badass, but I hate lying or covering up something I've done. My mom was naturally upset, but at the same time, its not the worst thing I could have done in the world. Naturally, she is the major reason why I have a laser removal appointment on Aug 18th.

I still have mixed feelings about my tattoo. No, I don't have pictures, and I don't think ill post them because to me, body art is highly personal. On one hand, getting it done marked the end of a phase in my life. It marked a drive that I had to take control of my own body, away from bad relationships, overprotective parents, negative media images. I told myself that if I won the Fulbright I would get inked (I also said I would get a Kate Spade Passport holder. I think my tatt is cooler). I'm reminded of how I struggled to make it this far, and that if I can achieve this then I can do whatever God strengthens me to do. At the same time, even though more and more girls from all walks of life are getting inked up, I know there is still a stigma attached. Women are supposed to be soft and smooth, with no hair, no wrinkles and no blemishes. But we have an emergence of women who are challenging this...with women like Kat Von D, or Angelina Jolie even. Little Miss "Good Girl Gone Bad" Rihanna has talked to the media about her tattoo obsession.
Right, right, I know I'm in the real world unlike these celebrities, and no I'm not saying I did it because they did. I don't intend to get any more body art. This is my limit. I have this weird dichotomy, where on one end I want to be free to express myself. I wanna wear the hair I want, the clothes I want, the body jewelry I want. At the same time, especially as a woman, you feel so much pressure to conform, ESPECIALLY PHYSICALLY, to appear to be wholesome, virtuous, but yet desirable at the same time. And that's where I'm stuck.
This tatt represents some good things, some not-so-good things. Perhaps it represents my own struggles with who I am and who I want to become. Its the straddle between using your body as a tool of rebellion or a representation of conformity. Its an expression of achievement, but a reminder of struggle. That's why I'm just as mixed about removal. Its going to be painful and expensive, I know. I'll only be able to do one treatment before I go abroad. This is the first time I'm submitting myself to pain where nothing good or pretty will come out of it, like a piercing or tattoo. I'm not happy about that. But at the same time, unfortunately, my mom believes that this Arabic tattoo means that I have pledged myself to the terrorist spirits of Islam and I must get rid of it right away because in no way is Islam compatible with Christianity in her view.
Bah. I'll let y'all know how it goes.

No comments: