My Tattoos

My eldest daughter watches LA Ink, Miami Ink and London Ink, programmes about tattoo studios, the people who go there to get tattooed, and the stories and reasons behind the designs they have inked indellibly onto their skin. It's a passably interesting programme - the stories are often touching and some of the artwork is stunning.

I have two tattoos and have never recorded why I had them or what they mean. Until now.

When I was 19 and a first-year University student I had this design tattooed onto my back at a small tattoo parlour near the railway bridge in Bangor. It's small - about the size of a 50p piece - and I often refer to it as a Sacred Heart, which is a Catholic symbol, even though I've never been Catholic. At the time it represented to me the love of Jesus as expressed in his willingness to die on the cross. Of course since I had it done I have joined a church which doesn't use the sign of the cross (or allow tattoos!), and for a while I considered having it removed or altered. But now I am content that it is still a true expression of my faith in, and love for, my saviour Jesus Christ, and it has come to mean more to me than it did all those years ago as my relationship with Him has grown.

I had my second tattoo done when I was in my early thirties, partly because I felt I was entering middle age and wanted to do something young and reckless. I designed it myself, it's on my upper right arm, and it represents freedom, imagination, creativity, purity, beauty and strength - all things which were rather lacking in my life at the time. The horse originally had a blonde mane and tail, but the yellow ink has faded somewhat so needs to be retouched. It represents me, of course, so has to be blonde. The horse has a name - Eagle -which is taken from a line in a Queen song on which I based an early fantasy novel, which also says a lot about me.

Gwen, the daughter who watches the TV programmes about tattooing, wants to get a tattoo herself once she is old enough. And she says she wants to get the same flying horse as I've got. Gwen loves horses to the point of obsession so that may be something to do with it, but for her it has another meaning - it represents her mother.

I'm rather torn. On the one hand, I am not getting any more tattoos and fully intend to toe the LDS church line on tattoos being the equivalent of graffitti on the temple of the Holy Ghost. It's a painful procedure so naturally I don't want her to have to endure it, and my little girl is perfect as she is without marking her skin.

On the other hand I'm tremendously touched that she should want to record her love for me (and horses) in this way, and I do think it is a beautiful picture, if I say so myself.


  1. Hey Anna, I have a story along similar lines.
    When I was a young hippy I had a sleeper in my right ear. I didn`t know what life was for but I came to know that love was the main driving force. When I found a small golden heart in the pub one day and no-one claimed it, I slipped it onto my sleeper. I spent a long time researching different belief systems and trying to adapt my life to some of them. At a time when all seemed lost to me, I found the tiniest golden cross on Morecambe promenade. When I put it on the sleeper it fitted perfectly inside the heart. I loved that earring just for being what it was and the fact that I`d found it. I was still wearing it years later when the missionaries found me and I found what life is really all about. They explained to me the reason we don`t focus on the cross and I felt I should get rid of it. I recognized the symbolism of it all and realized that now I actually have Jesus Christ in my real heart I don`t need an emblem. Life has never been the same since.

  2. Wow, what a lovely story. So glad you found the truth after all that searching. An earring in a lot easier to get rid of than a tattoo,though!


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