In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Tattoo….You?.”

Well, I guess I am really different from most of the girls my age. Back in the sleepy town where I have spent my teenage years, while most of the teenagers wanted to have a new dress, or new shoes or new boyfriend, I was wanting to have a tattoo. Yes a tattoo. I don’t know what it is about tattoos that fascinate me but I want to have one! This wish has been on my bucket list for such a long time. Growing up in a conservative family, I am so sure my Mom and Dad won’t approve of me having a tattoo of any sort. But I did not lose hope. My wish to have one sit on the bucket for a long time, until I turned 18.

It was summer of 2000 when I had my first tattoo. It was a tribal sun just above my “insert coin” (that’s how I call the butt crack). It was the safest place I thought for my first ink. My parents won’t see it, I was pretty sure about it. But no secrets can be kept forever. My Mom and Dad saw it one day when this low-waist jeans was the latest fad! I didn’t get the scolding I was dreading to receive when they found out, Thank God.

The tribal sun I had was the only one I have.  I thought that was the only I will ever had. I never thought of having more than one tattoo until a decade after.

I was in deep pain one day. I cannot explain the pain brought about by a broken heart. The pain was excruciating I can no longer take it. I decided I want to feel some real pain to divert the emotional pain I was feeling. I went to the nearest tattoo shop in the city where I lived, and got my second tattoo. It felt good. A few days later, I went back and got another one, a Red Dragon on my back – for my son. I want him to be as fierce as a dragon, as tough as a dragon like me.

In 2012 I was reunited with my best friend in grade school. We went to his tattoo artist friend and got ourselves a tattoo whose designs are similar to one another. And that year, it felt like there would be a scarcity for tattoos that I had to get one every month.

At the moment, I just counted as I already have lost count, I have a total of 16 tattoos. I don’t know how it turned out to be 16 when i just wanted to have one. Each of my tattoo has their own story, which I’d rather not tell one by one here. Each one symbolizes something important to me, to my life. As I say on my tagline, “Each of us has our own story…” so does my tattoos.

I am aware of people who dislikes skin art. There are some who thinks of us women with tattoos as bitches and whores. But hey no! Not all inked people are bad people, same with not all religious people are God-fearing and kind. A lot of inked people experience discrimination in many different ways, which is a sad fact. The difference we have with people who are not inked is that, we don’t care if they don’t have one. We don’t judge them for not having a tattoo to wear all their lives. We don’t discriminate. We don’t call them names. It’s just a matter of Respect. Respect for choices. Respect for one another.

My son loves my inks. He is proud he got to choose the red dragon design on my back. And he knows he can only get one when he is of the right age.

You see having tattoos is not bad at all. It does not make me a bad mother to my only child. I provide for us, I still am capable of instilling virtues and values despite the 16 work of arts in my skin. I am still the same daughter my mother has. I am still the same sister, cousin, niece and friend. I have just decided to decorate my skin. I just chose to exercise my freedom to choose and express myself. Whatever those judgmental people has to say about people like me who is inked, I don’t care. I don’t mind and they don’t matter. I am a mother, a daughter, a lover, a sinner, a worker and I am TATTOOED and PROUD!

Mayumi's Back Some people hang their art, I wear mine.