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“Don’t you regret those tattoos?”

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As I might have mentioned before, I am an atheist. But I wasn’t always. I was once a true, not-fucking-around-even-a-little-bit Catholic. And when I got my very first tattoos, they were Catholic in nature. My very first tattoo was a sacred heart, which is now covered by an in-progress sleeve that has been halted while I figure out why I can’t heal a tattoo to save my life anymore. The last remnant of my devotion to G-d through body modification is a faded little Virgin Mary on my right upper arm. She looks like this:

Photo on 2013-07-21 at 10.46

See? She ain’t hurting anybody there. She (intentionally) looks like the bathtub Mary we had on our side yard when I was growing up. If anything, I’ll keep her for the childhood memory.

Whenever I’ve gotten a tattoo, well-meaning jerks have said, “You’re going to regret that when you’re older!” Which is fucking preposterous, because whenever I see an old lady with tattoos, looking rode hard and put away wet, usually working in a bowling alley bar, I’m like… that. That is what I want my golden years to be. That lady led a rad life.

Anyway, I don’t regret my Catholic tattoos, even though I’m not Catholic anymore. I don’t even feel silly about them; people change, and it’s okay to have a visual reminder of that.

Also, she’s lots of fun to dress up. For example, here we have Pirate (or Nick Fury) Mary:

Photo on 2013-07-21 at 10.48

Occasionally, Pirate Mary holds a sword or a bottle of rum, but if you want her to be interchangeable with Nick Fury Mary, you leave those deets out. Also, if no one is home to do the drawing for you, because drawing on the outside of your own right arm, when you are right-handed, is very difficult.

Another fun variation? Horatio Caine Mary:

Photo on 2013-07-21 at 10.49 #2

You have to write “YEEEAAAAHH” beneath her, though, otherwise she just looks like Tom Cruise In Risky Business Mary.

Sometimes, if I’m going to a birthday party or something, I like to get her dressed up for the occasion:

Photo on 2013-07-21 at 10.52

I gave her a little glass of wine in this one, because Mary knows how to have a good time. Look how worried she was about running out of wine in that story in the Bible.

Yes, tattoos are permanent. But only until you die. In the meantime, you can still have a lot of fun with them, even if you’ve outgrown the reason you got them. You just need a marker and a steady hand.

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  1. Sarah C.
    Sarah C.

    This made me snicker-giggle (sniggle?) to the point where my husband demanded to know what I was looking at 😀

    If I could reach mine I would TOTALLY play with them. Instead, they’re getting covered up slowly. And painfully. Itchy stages SUCK.

    July 21, 2013
  2. I have five tattoos. I’m planning on getting two more next year (it’s becoming a yearly birthday gift to myself kind of thing). My second tattoo was of a celtic cross, back when I was still set in my faith. I’ve since begun questioning things and decided to add on a couple of things to make it into a Boondock Saints fan-ish tattoo.

    And if anyone asks (who has no idea about the movie) I just tell them that I value truth and justice.

    The Greek (in orange) on my arm says “ypomoni” and means “patience.”

    I will never regret my tattoos.

    Here’s a tip in tattoo after care that worked really well with my newest ones: Use the Aquaphor for two days, then only use Lubriderm lotion from the time it starts to heal until the last of the scabs go away. The worst part is stopping yourself from picking at them. I find that using the lotion often helps me stop myself from doing that and helps to “flake” away the loose scabs.

    July 21, 2013
  3. I’m too scared of needles to get any tattoos, but what you’ve done with Mary makes me want one! I’d probably do something highly inappropriate though.

    July 21, 2013
  4. The dress-up thing is priceless though I’d be afraid of religious extremists’ attacks.

    July 21, 2013
  5. Alison

    That is seriously excellent. I never thought of dressing up a tattoo before. I’m also an atheist but I like your tattoo. She has a sweet vintage look to her.

    I had to google “bathtub Mary” as I’d never heard of such a thing. I’m from Ontario (Canada) where people don’t tend to wear their religion on their sleeve, so to speak.

    July 21, 2013
  6. Marimba Ani
    Marimba Ani

    You are my very favorite person that I don’t actually know. Keep rockin’ on with your bad self. (And sharing you with us, because (as I said before) you rock!)

    July 21, 2013
  7. Andi in NZ
    Andi in NZ

    Ahahaha, now you’ve made me want a tattoo I can dress up! 😀

    Mine is not the sort that lends itself to that kind of thing (a Celtic knot), but I still love it as much as the day I had it done.

    July 22, 2013
  8. I was raised that tattoos were unacceptably wrong…like many other things. (Very religious family!)

    After the birth of my 2nd child, I got the first part of a tattoo on my ankle. It’s a rose that reminds me of my life quote: “The bud is not an imperfect rose.” Years later, I got the second part: the names of my children written like a vine around my ankle. My tattoo is precious to me.

    I’m a former missionary and children’s pastor, and a current teacher at a Christian school. Yes, some people still react negatively to my tattoo, especially because of the circles I move in. Yes, some people have told me I’ll regret having it when I’m old.

    Yet, many more people have been blessed as I shared with them the meaning behind my bud and rose: that no one looks at a bud and thinks, “It would be so beautiful if only it were a full rose.” Like the bud, we are all perfect and beautiful just as we are…even while we are growing and changing. There is such pressure to be perfect, in this world. I need a reminder to just be, and my tattoo does that for me.

    As for the names of my children, I will never regret having those…especially when I am old and my children have grown and left me!

    I have been thinking of getting another tattoo. It would be a butterfly where the purple ribbon for Epilepsy is the body and the wings are the puzzle pieces of Autism. (Those are my kiddos’ two main diagnoses.) However, I’m not sure yet. Part of me feels that doing so would reduce my kids to their diagnoses rather than portraying them as all that they are.

    July 22, 2013
    • Anonymous

      Aw… Love it! Love the quote, love the idea, love it all. Thank you for sharing!

      IMHO- I don’t think it would be reducing your children, so much as bringing an awareness to something that is a part of their lives.

      July 23, 2013
  9. Danielle

    My mother did once tell my aunt she would regret her tattoo, but only for the location. Gravity is a bitch.

    July 22, 2013
  10. lauraqofu

    I love my tattoos…even the rats on my upper chest which, which according to my sister, “ruined my cleavage.” I hate the “You’re going to regret that when you’re older.” I adore my tattoos…even the generic rose I got for my 18th birthday. My tattoos all have meaning for me, they tell stories about who I am. My next tattoo will be a Tudor rose, along with a motto once used by Anne Boleyn…I’m always planning my next tattoo…even while in the midst of getting a tattoo.

    July 22, 2013
    • Same here with always planning the next tattoo.
      While I’m under the needle, I’m talking to my tattoo artist about what’s next^^

      July 22, 2013
  11. Jenny,
    the idea with dressing up a tattoo is so cool. Never thought of that.
    Maybe I should draw a bra on my devil pinup, when I’m spending time with prudish people?! ^^
    As for regretting tattoos, never. I have two really ugly tats that will be covered up some day. But I don’t even regret them.
    Currently I have 15 tattoos (plus the two ugly ones) and one of the 15, I tattooed myself.
    It’s a simple black cross. It’s so far from perfect but it’ll stay. My tattoo artist is going to “put a frame” around it. =)
    When people ask me about regrets or how ugly my tats will be when I’m old, this are my favourite answers:
    1. Non- tattoo skin is as ugly as tattooed skin, when old and wrinkled.
    2. In my last will, I’m instructing them to remove my skin and put it up in frames, so my daughter will have VERY special and unique art.
    3. When we’re old and my hubby can’t sleep at night, he’ll roll me over and over and look at his own private picture book.
    4. Oh, did I tell you? My next tattoos will be “Merry Christmas” on my right thigh and “Happy Easter” on my left thigh and when I meet a hot guy, I can ask him to visit me between holidays.
    5. My next tattoo will be “Don’t go any further” in Braille above both knees… for dates in cinema.

    Enough now.
    Thank for sharing, Jenny.

    July 22, 2013
    • Ange

      LOL I’m planning a similar thing. My surname is Johnstone and back in the old Scottish clan days we were cattle rustlers. It got to the point where we were doing it so much the place where we hid the cows was called ‘the beefstand of the Johnstones.’ I plan on getting the tartan in a banner on my thigh pointing towards… Well, the beefstand of the Johnstone. 😉

      July 23, 2013
  12. howzit

    This is the bestest! That is all I wanted to say.

    July 22, 2013
  13. Thanks for this post. I have tried to tell people similar things a thousand times, but as usual you put it much more eloquently than I could!

    I am pretty young (22) and got my first tattoo when I was 16. I have four now, and I love them all. All of them represent a time in my life that I wanted to remember, and I appreciate the constant reminder.

    I think it’s very condescending for people to assume they know what you will and won’t regret when it comes to lifetime decisions. After all, when you have a child no one says “Oh, you’ll regret that when you’re old!”, and that is a far more life-changing event than a tattoo could ever be!
    It just strikes me as something people need to mind their own business about. So you think I’ll have trouble finding a job? Great, that’s my problem, not yours. So you think I’ll be embarrassed when I’m in a nursing home getting sponge bathed (yes, I have heard this one several times!)? Well, I think that’s you projecting your own bizarre insecurities onto me.

    When I see an older person with tattoos I don’t immediately think “Wow, what a moron!”, instead I wonder where they came from and what the thought process behind them was. I wish more non-tattooed people would think the same way.

    July 23, 2013
  14. When I was a kid we had this book of monsters. One of my favorites was the banshee, which, no joke, looked exactly like your little Virgin Mary, except that she was tinged red and her cloak was bloodstained.

    July 23, 2013
  15. Ahhhaha that’s so awesome! I’ve never known anyone that has dressed up their tattoos. You are a role model to us all!

    July 23, 2013
  16. Summer

    When people comment negatively on my many, many tattoos, I tell them; ‘The body is a temple, mine just has stained glass windows’.

    July 23, 2013
  17. Me

    I don’t have any tattoos, I think I’ve outgrown my phase when I wanted one, and I am semi-Catholic, so it’s nice to hear when someone who used to be Catholic just says that people change. No need to bash others for still following a certain religion that you used to follow too, like I tend to encounter online many times. The pirate Mary and birthday Mary was pretty cool 🙂

    July 26, 2013
  18. Kitten

    I’m happy that we share tattoo happiness, yay! People told me a lot growing up not to get one when I was young, etc, I’ll regret it. I got my tattoo for my eighteenth birthday and though it’s only been a couple of years, I still love it madly. I want to be one of those fierce old ladies with a beautiful tapestry of a life that reflects who I am as a person.

    November 25, 2013
  19. Mets

    I hear that too…”you’ll regret getting those!” Uhhhh…

    The first one I have was designed by my kids, and it represents them: two pixies, one with my son’s red hair and a DNA helix in his hand (he LOVES science!) and a “C” in the wing and my daughter in a purple dress, seated, drawing on a piece of paper on a cresent moon, with “T” in her wing…it’s gorgeous and VERY special because they helped with it.

    The second one is on my lower leg with a battered Templar style shield and the names of my protecting Angels in a scroll (Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Remiel, Zadkiel and Jophiel) because I feel (even though I’m not Catholic either, anymore: I’m Pagan) that they still have my back (and, bonus points, Remiel is a character from one of my fave authors, Tom Sniegoski, and the character’s name is Remy Chandler, the Angel made human). So yeah…I want more ink, and I’m hoping for Yule to get the money! 🙂

    November 9, 2014
  20. Anon123

    I read an interview of a tattoo artist who was very tickled by the whole “tattoos are so permanent!” thing. His point was essentially the same as yours–they go away when you die. Or, as he put it, “You don’t see any fine masterpieces of 17th-century tattooing running around” (paraphrased).

    June 14, 2015
  21. Yvonne

    How does one go from very religious to atheist? I’m agnostic myself, but I don’t get how you can go from firmly believing to not at all. The few people I’ve questioned about this seemed to only blame their fellow humans for their conversion to atheism, which is like deciding to hate your parents just because your siblings are mean to you. Never made any sense to me. If you were expecting an answer from God in this lifetime, apparently that’s not how He rolls. We’re supposed to all wait patiently until Judgment Day for proof of His existence and answers to all of life’s questions. :p

    August 4, 2015
    • Yvonne

      Or so they preach. XD

      August 4, 2015

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