Last Sunday (the 30th of August for those of you who like exact details), I went and got my second tattoo. I had decided what I wanted three weeks before and booked it in two weeks before. This was a stark contrast to my first tattoo which I had talked about getting for literally years before I finally did. When I told my mum that i was getting another, and that it was going to be a lot bigger, she was visibly dismayed. When I asked her if she wanted to see what I was getting she pursed her lips, shook her head and walked out of my room without a word.
Getting a tattoo hurts. I’m not going to beat around the bush. People who say it’s like getting scratched by a cat have clearly been hanging out with some vicious cats. Or maybe they’re referring to cats of the bigger variety than a small domestic cat. In the hour and a half that it took to get my tattoo, I felt like I was going to throw up, pass out, or a combination of both more times than I can count. I also considered just asking my tattooist to stop and walk out with a half completed tattoo, but I gritted my teeth and got through it. When I saw the completed piece I just about forgot about the pain because I already knew I absolutely loved it. I thanked my artist, paid, and walked out feeling really good. I’m not sure if it’s adrenaline or if your body releases copious amounts of dopamine to combat the pain, but the tattoo afterglow is a real thing. It happened after my first and it happened after this one- I was just deliriously happy.
I got home and cleaned it, then looked at it in the mirror for a good 15 minutes or so before my mum got home. She asked to see it and once again did nothing to hide her disdain. I understand why she doesn’t like the idea of tattoos. My mum is not good with pain and she can’t see why anyone would willingly put themselves through it. She also sees tattoos as being nothing more than an eyesore that ruins your skin. I understand. The thing is she never bothered to ask what this tattoo means to me. I understand where she’s coming from, so it would be nice if she attempted to understand where I was coming from.
My tattoo is a mermaid. I know, I know, basic girl tattoo. What is not as basic is that my mermaid is inspired by Adore Delano, a drag queen and singer. Yeah, weren’t expecting that were you? Adore has a very particular aesthetic and style of drag that a lot of other people in the drag community don’t understand. For a community that is in itself very misunderstood and harshly judged, it is somewhat surprising how judgemental drag queens can be of eachother, and when she competed on RuPaul’s Drag Race, Adore was the subject of a lot of criticism calling her “unpolished” and lazy. She never let it affect her, and in fact would respond to criticism about her appearance by saying “I look fucking cool”. This ability to not let the words and opinions of others affect you is something that has always evaded me but I heavily aspire to be able to do. My tattoo is a constant reminder that even in a culture like drag there will always be people to judge and say negative things about you. My tattoo is a constant reminder to make every effort to let these judgements and negative opinions roll off, like water off a duck’s back (that was another little drag reference for anyone who was paying attention). And that’s why it doesn’t matter that my mum hates my tattoo.