True Stories: Ten women on what they think about tattoos
Despite how up to date we are on tech, memes and beauty innovations, our culture is still one that is mostly conservative. Tattoos are still often frowned upon. For instance, my family members would tell my inked relatives how unprofessional and how unbecoming tattoos look, especially when you’re a woman. Even with these societal pressures, some women still opt to get their bodies inked as more employers adopt non-discriminatory hiring practices.
We talked to ten women about their different views on getting tattoos, and not just the semi-permanent kind for brows or lips. Permanent tattoos are a lifelong commitment, so we hope that their voices can help you decide on whether or not getting inked is right for you.
Debbi Baybay, digital strategist manager
I always thought of my body a canvas, another venue to express who I am as person. I have a tattoo for each passion point in my life: milestones, travel, and even Harry Potter. I’d wanted to get a tattoo as early as college, maybe because I loved to draw and paint. Unfortunately, my university was very strict with the no tattoo policy so as soon as I got to my first job in advertising and I saved enough money, I got my first tattoo on my 22nd birthday. I currently have seven tattoos, and I definitely want to get more!
Betsy Nacionales, tutorial center teacher
Tattoos are very aesthetically pleasing and that's one thing I love - you are able to put what you want in a tattoo. I love it because it's very artistic and it displays not only the skill of your tattoo artist but it shows a bit of the person who has the artwork on their skin.
I put a high value in self-expression and I like to think that getting a tattoo somewhat shows a feat of endurance, not only physically but also in dealing with the stigma against tattoos. Being from a conservative country and all, it has so many implications. Frankly, people who proudly wear their ink is something admirable for me.
I've considered getting one since I was in high school. Honestly, I just want one because it looks so nice. It might sound a bit impulsive but wouldn't you buy things just because you like them or how they look? That's how I view getting a tattoo. I used to only want one but two or three sounds great. Where to put them would probably be the hardest decision for me. I personally haven't gotten any yet due to time and budget constraints, and my parents wouldn't want one on me.
I can't stand needles. They always say that the prick is "parang kagat lang ng langgam" but the idea of it inside my veins is just too much for me. I'll only agree to it if it were for medical purposes or when I decide to donate blood.
[Donating blood] is another reason why I wouldn't have myself tattooed; there aren't really any state-regulated tattoo facilities and you'll have to wait a year before donating blood. What happens when someone in your family is in need of blood and there isn't enough in the blood bank/hospital? The chances of that may be somewhat small but I wouldn't want a tattoo to hinder me from helping out in the time of need. I'd rather have them prick me for something worthy of a cause than to "permanently" remind myself of something that I may regret 30 years from now. (That’s another thing, why go through that pain and process when you know you might just have it removed when you’re older?) When it comes to dealing with needles and nostalgia, I think I’d stick to arts and crafts or a cross-stitch canvas. I have no judgments against people who do have tattoos. I think everyone is entitled to do what they want with their bodies so long as it's good for both their physical and mental health.
Selina Garcia, art management consultant
I love tattoos because of many things. It is a form of self-expression and a form of art in itself. I enjoy seeing the various interpretations and renderings of say, the moon. The colors, the style, the placement of the tattoo and its size - they can mean so much. And when you ask the person about the tattoo, it opens a story. You get to learn something about their lives.
I only have one so far but I do intend to get another one. It took me a while to gather up my guts to get a tattoo. I was afraid of the pain so I would get a henna instead. Then, the last year of college arrived and it was an important marker in my life. I was also going through some personal things. That's when I decided to get a tattoo: to remind myself that I can rise above the hardships and pain in life.
Isabel Hernandez, graphic designer
I personally have a great deal of respect for people who commit to inking their bodies, mainly because their pain tolerance is probably high. As a designer, I also really like tattoo work that is cohesive with each other despite being done years apart. Sadly, the main reason I don't ever plan to commit to a tattoo is because my pain tolerance is incredibly low. The idea of having it retouched every so often sounds like more pain that I'm unwilling to go through. That said, if we eventually find a way to make it painless, I'd totally get a tattoo. I do feel like that detracts from the full experience and commitment, though.
Phoebe Casin, associate managing editor
I got my first tattoo a year or two after I had graduated from college. It has always been my dream to get tattooed because having permanent art on my skin meant that I could express myself in a much more visual way. Being a writer and part of the liberal arts community also solidified my decision to get one, thinking that an ink wouldn’t be frowned upon, but rather celebrated, if you will, in the industry that I was a part of. They allow me to express myself and my individuality. I love that each tattoo signifies a moment in my life, and helps me remember it. And since I moonlight as an art writer and have always been exposed to the visual arts, the fact that I can turn my skin into a canvas is something that I also love.
I currently have three tattoos. My first one is the word “catharsis” on my right wrist, done by Skinworkz’s Ricky Sta. Ana, one of the most prominent tattoo artists in the country. I wanted him to do my first one because I wanted it to be special and memorable. Catharsis is one of my favorite words; it was a no-brainer for me to have it as my first tattoo design.
The second one is a black quill with a single-stemmed red rose rapped around it on my left calf. I got this on a whim. One weekend and because we had the money, my friend and I just decided to head on to the nearest tattoo shop to get inked. No regrets.
My third ink is a light pink bunny profile in watercolor on the inside of my left forearm done by Wiji Lacsamana, who specializes in watercolor tattoos. This represents my love for rabbits (I have two, Chuck and Norris) and my Chinese zodiac sign.
Each of my tattoos have a two- to three-year gap, and except for the second one, the ink and placement was carefully thought out and planned. All three can also be seen in plain sight; I didn’t want them to be intentionally hidden and covered up because what’s the point of getting one if you can’t freely showcase it, right?
[I plan to get] one or two more this year, hopefully, if my budget allows. I’m thinking of getting a Valfre illustration or a customized Kita (Keeshia Felipe) illustration on my arm. Somehow, I’ve convinced my friend, photographer Shaira Luna, to sponsor my next tattoo, hehe.
Hilary Hao, brand marketer
Getting a tattoo has been something that has been frowned upon in my family for as long as I remember (even until present time). And probably has something to do with the stereotype that the only people who got tattoos were those that were looking for trouble – that is, the Chinese mafia, or the Yakuza. Not exactly the kinds of profession a parent would aspire for his/her kid to have.
While I now know that these stereotypes say nothing about a person, growing up with this sort of thinking has affected the way I perceive things, and kept me uninterested in anything that had to do with body art outside of the standard single ear piercing. So while it’s pretty cool to see someone with an intricate skull and dragon tattoo (and admire the craftsmanship that went into the design), I’ll pass.
Kate Sim, consumer marketing assistant
The idea of getting a tattoo has always fascinated me. It tells stories - the meaning behind the design, the motivation for committing to it, and the experience of getting inked. I think it’s a brave and beautiful way of expressing one’s self. In a way, I also look at it as a way to conserve a certain part of yourself or to commemorate a particular moment in your life. Maybe it’s the thought of surviving the needle repeatedly jabbing through the skin or of having the willingness to commit to such a permanent mark (unless, of course, you have the money for an expensive tattoo removal), but I feel like a person with tattoo exudes a different kind confidence and courage.
I would love to have a tattoo in the future, but only after doing further research. Having an artist I could trust and a design I can commit to are factors to consider. If I decide to get inked, I want to make sure it’s a symbol, a word, or a phrase which I live by. I want it to be a reminder to celebrate who I am and who I can become.
Kems Laput, speech therapist
I didn’t see tattoos to be attractive until I saw some of my favorite artists get themselves inked. It wasn’t just "cool" (as I see this as a reason why people get them), but beautiful. My thoughts about tattoos have changed and I now see it as an art form, and something that carries a special meaning to them. When I went through a low moment in my life, I wanted to have something that would remind me about my faith – to carry it with me, to have it on my skin. My mom didn't allow me because she thinks it's unprofessional, with me working in the medical field. I respect her, and I do think I can live without one. I still think [tattoos are] beautiful, though.
S.Y.A., undergraduate assistant in nursing
I decided to get a tattoo as a remembrance of my grandparents. I was raised by my grandparents and I chose a design which reminds me of them, and is also significant to my childhood. What I love most about tattoos is the uniqueness of each design - no one has the same exact tattoo. I currently have one tattoo and intend to get at least three more to complete my design. I decided to gradually increase my tattoos, as although it is on the same area (full back), I wanted to make sure that I was certain about each additional piece. Tattoos in my religion is viewed as taboo, and I am the first from my family from both my parents’ sides to have a tattoo.
Have you ever considered getting a tattoo? Or maybe you're absolutely set on never even considering it? Share your thoughts at the comments below!