Friday, August 7, 2009


Tattoo's have come up in conversation a bit lately so I thought I would explore the topic here. Feelings about tattoo's can be controversial so I hope no one takes offense one way or the other from this post. While some people view it as the body being used as a canvas for a work of art, others see it as defilement. That word did come up in a conversation about tattoo's recently so what exactly does it mean. The definition of defilement is to make filthy or dirty or to make unclean or unfit for ceremonial use; desecrate: defile a temple. Hmmm, I always thought tattoo's were a part of ceremony in many cultures, a way of marking landmarks in one's life. I personally do not have a tattoo (yet anyway), but many of my family members and friends do. In most cases I see their tattoo's as a visual narration of their life or either as an outward expression of an inward journey. I gain much insight into who they are from hearing the stories, meanings, and their feelings behind each one. To me they are a form of expression, kind of a pictorial freedom of speech. If you have a tattoo, or even imagine what you would get if you had one (that'd be me), I would love to hear your story.

The visual pictorial above is of my step-sister's story. The circle on her back is her birth sign representing the day she was born and the tree, a work in progress, symbolizes the tree of life. The art work is of an actual Live Oak tree that has special meaning for her. (Getting off topic, but adding to the uniqueness of Live Oak trees, you can see my feelings about them from what I have written before here.) Getting back to the image, you can also see my favorite, her sons baby handprint. She has now added her second sons handprint as he was just about to be born when this photograph was taken.


  1. Great choice of topic Maria. I'm split on tattoos. I can see the beauty of them, but I also see an ugliness. I think it is like any art form...some art we are drawn to and other art we find unappealing. Is the body meant to be a canvas? I'm not sure. We pierce it so is there any difference in drawing on it?

    My oldest son got his first tattoos this winter. I'm not 100% about it. Why? Because I gave birth to him and there is a part of me that thinks he marked up what I created!! lol!! I don't mean that in a written in stone way, but as a mother I think you might understand what I'm saying. I will say this -- his lip piercing and his tattoos (done at the same time) are a statement of who he is and I would never take that away from him or tell him it's wrong. It is his body. It is his choice. And I'm fine with that.

    Will I ever get a tattoo? Probably not. I've had a henna tattoo but that's not permanent. I don't think I'd want anything permanent. I have plenty of scars from surgeries that have saved my life and I see those as the road map to remind me of where I've been. However there is no question that marking spots on the body to say "I've been here and here" and "this is symbolic to me" is very deeply meaningful and a way to commemorate life as it has been lived.

  2. Wow, defilement. That is truly harsh. I have one on each ankle, one on my shoulder which shall become a 1/2 sleeve one of these days and a piece that goes from the base of my occipitals to between my shoulder blades. Two of them where designed by my oldest son. I got my first one when I was 40, I went with my oldest and we got our first tatts together. Then next was when my next son turned 18 and I went with him and he got his first and I got my third. The next one I got with my sister, her third and my fourth. Wow, this could go on and on but I will stop there.

    The idea that this form, this body that we have, can be molded and shaped and marked as each individual sees fit for themselves is a continual tribute to the one thing that each of us has. . . . choice.

    **love love love your step-sisters work. Very special indeed. The picture is wonderful, too. I hope she has a large copy of it for herself!

  3. I've toyed with getting a tattoo a number of times over the years. As yet, I remain unmarked. I've wondered if I'm in the minority, though.

    Part of the problem for me is that I'm not good with choosing. There are so many wonderful ideas and great works of art to choose from. How do I pick just one?

    The other consideration is the permanence of a tattoo. I've changed so much over the years, will I still want that butterfly, faerie, garland of roses when I'm 80?

    And, speaking of being 80 one day...I've noticed that the quality of a tattoo tends to degrade over time. Colours fade, edges get muddy. And, then there's the whole changing body part...wrinkles add a whole new dimension to some tattoos.

    Also, all those people who got on the bandwagon of thorns inked onto their biceps have essentially stamped a date on their arm that will eventually date them. That was a fad in the 1990's.

    As intrigued and tempted as I am to get a tattoo, I can't get past the impression that it looks like graffiti to me. So, I remained unmarked.

  4. Oh my goodness, that is beautiful ... wow.

  5. Two of my three grown children have them. But tattoos are not attractive on old skin, so I'm refraining.

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  7. It's funny how we look back at past times and realize the significance of the decisions we did or did not make. I've definitely noticed that when it comes to the subject of tattoos.

    I have a friend that is a really good artist and since we were in high school he's been encouraging me to get tattoos and drawing up any ideas that came to my mind. I had so many different and unique designs but nothing I could ever commit to.

    There's definitely good days and bad days when reflecting and pondering on whether I should still get one. However, since my commitment to living for God; I feel called to be a missionary. If anyone is familiar with missions work, going into different countries, cultures, and people groups; they can have a very different perspective on tattoos and sometimes it even can prohibit you from engaging with them. I don’t want to risk it. Sharing the Gospel of Jesus is far more important than what I want to put onto my skin; even if it is a religious tattoo.

    Again, I think it is funny how my indecision has played such a big role in my calling from God; though sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have a tattoo.