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Getting inked: An anecdote about my tattoo


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A lot of people wouldn’t find being stabbed repeatedly with up to 27 needles at one time enjoyable. However, I just can’t get enough.

I’m not saying I’m addicted to tattoos as many claim to be. I only have six tattoos, mostly small, barely noticeable, or completely covered by clothing.

My latest additions have created a stir that has ruffled my feathers a bit. Recently, I added a rose to my right forearm and, more importantly to me, a purple cow on my left forearm.

There have been two main responses to my new body modifications.

First is the ever popular concern about my future employment opportunities. “Who’s going to hire you now?” “You’ll have to wear long sleeves shirts for the rest of your life.”

This type of response doesn’t bother me all that much. There are thousands of tattooed people in America who are gainfully employed. In fact, you probably have more coworkers with tattoos than you know about. As for long sleeves, what does it matter to you?

The second set of reactions really gets under my skin. Snidely asking why I chose a purple cow or how I’m going to feel about having a purple cow tattooed on my body when I’m 80-years-old is just plain rude.

All of my tattoos have some kind of meaning to me. They are not just spontaneous, drunk and/or stupid decisions made by a young person. Each piece has been contemplated for months, even years, before I finally decide to permanently add the artwork to my skin.

In this case, my purple cow is not just some cute picture. She represents one of the most important people in my life, and when I look down into her big eyes a sense of pride swells over me as I remember just how blessed I am to have known my great grandmother.

One of the last times I saw OlaBelle Kingery was as she handed me a little plate with the picture of a purple cow on it. She had gotten it some years before and wanted me to have it. She said it was different, like me.

Since then, the poem accompanying the little cow has become somewhat of a mantra for me. Often when I’m stressed or upset I find myself reciting “I never saw a purple cow. I never hope to see one. But if I saw a purple cow, I’d rather see than be one.”

Once said, I am reminded of my grandma Belle and all is well. It only seemed logical to have a permanent remembrance tattooed somewhere I can see it.

So yes, when I am 80 I will still love my tattoos, especially my purple cow. I will gladly tell my grandchildren the stories of my life when they ask about my pretty pictures. I will continue to wear them with the pride that I wear them with today. I will not regret them because they are all thoroughly thought out and have special meaning to me.

“My body is my journal, and my tattoos are my story,” Johnny Depp once said. I feel the same way.

I will gladly tell you all about my tattoos but please don’t judge me or my decisions about body modification. They are a part of who I am.

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Award winning, student run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield..
Getting inked: An anecdote about my tattoo