opinions & musings / Uncategorized

Do or Don’t: Tattoos?

What do you think about tattoos? 

In Taiwan, it’s highly frowned upon to have a tattoo, unless you’re one of the scene-y kids that hang out outside of The Wall or loitering, smoking outside of cafes. Tattoos weren’t popular amongst the ABC crowd in Los Angeles (unless you were in some kind of creative field), and many of my friends expressed a wish to get a tattoo, but then immediately sighed: “But my parents would kill me.” At National Taiwan University, I don’t even think the idea of getting a tattoo has even crossed anyone’s mind; and Dante would have to come up with a new level of hell to describe the amount of trouble they’d be in.


I have a tattoo. I’ve never done a “photoshoot’ with it, but you can get a glimpse in this picture I took in Palau.

I got it at the end of my two “gap years”; time that I spent volunteering in the Bronx and rediscovering my relationship with God. I got the word “selah”along with three plum blossoms, tattooed on my left wrist right before I left Kansas City. Selah is a word used 74 times in the Hebrew Bible, and generally means God has spoken. However, within the context it’s placed in (the Psalms)–it is a liturgico-musical mark that means “stop and listen”. 

At that time, I was struggling to come to terms with the time I had took off from university in order to pursue more…heavenly-minded interests, and I had a lot of doubt concerning whether or not I had wasted two years of my time. One of the words that really helped me through this time was “selah”, because it felt like it summed up my entire experience: I had seen the  opening of a door to a unique period of my life; which contained something valuable I was supposed to learn. I spent a season of service and a season of solitude trying to listen, trying to learn it; while my friends were rushing about finishing semesters at university and jump-starting their careers. I had a selah, and in the end, whether I regret it or not is moot, because it happened and I am grateful.

Interestingly enough, the community of young, hip Christians I was living in was very supportive of getting tattoos; getting Bible verses or phrases tattooed is the norm. However, stepping outside of this context, I never realized how many times I would have to explain my tattoo to others. The top three questions I get about my tattoo: Um, what does that word ‘seee-lah’ mean? (Answer given above) Oh! It’s on the wrist, did it hurt a lot? (Yes, but the pain was unbearable, just don’t hold your breath!) What kind of flowers are they? (Plum blossoms, the flower of Taiwan). 

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They say that once you get one, it’s inevitable you’ll want another, and it’s definitely true: I plan to get tattooed  before I leave Taiwan next year. There’s so much said already about tattoos that’s obvious (get something that means something to you, don’t be hasty about making your decision, don’t get tattooed when you’re drunk…)–and all of them are absolutely true. I would also add: don’t get something that you can easily find on 19282938 other people with a quick search of Pinterest (a map of the world, feather, star); and you should do it at a time in your life when you’ve accomplished something you want to remember; I like the idea of your body being physically marked by all these seasons of your life.

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Lately, I’ve been obsessing over floral tattoos: I think they’re just so gorgeous! I don’t know if I could pull one off (currently deliberating a small botanical print of a palm tree frond behind my ear and wrapped down into my neck a bit)–but I love browsing through Pinterest and looking at the tattoos of others! I never would have thought flower tattoos on a guy would be sexy, but then I saw this picture and thought heyyyyy now! I can dig it!

Would you want your significant other to have a tattoo?

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Most girls I know currently say that they wouldn’t prefer a guy with tatts, but it’s not a deal-breaker either. However, I know some guys who swear all girls with a tattoo look trashy, and they’d never go for it. Some say that it’s not a huge deal to them, but they’d never let their girlfriend get a tattoo, unless it’s done in a “girly way”. I guess by girly they mean something like the pictures below (I took some of my favorite images from my “tattoo” board on Pinterest of course, it’s totally a coincidence that all the girls with girly tattoos on Pinterest are skinny and ultra hot):

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I really dig the style of the girl in the last photo; she looks like the type of bad-ass chick that could get an entire sleeve and still seem sexy.  But I know I’d never be able to pull it off; so until now, I’ll be happy with my little tattoo and go on dreaming of bigger, more daring things.

Do you want to get a tattoo? What kind of tattoo would you get?

All photos via Pinterest. See my tattoo board here. 


11 thoughts on “Do or Don’t: Tattoos?

  1. I’ve been told I should never get a tattoo due to religion (Judaism) and I shouldn’t mark my flesh. Having said that, I would personally never get one due to my personality – I change my mind ALL the time. Today, I may like it. I might not tomorrow. Or next year. Besides, I am 30 years old. I’m getting old for that.

    My husband got a tattoo IN TAIWAN in the 1980’s! That’s the time when it was really forbidden.

    I like your tattoo. 🙂

    • Thanks Eileen! And I don’t think 30 years old is too old to get a tattoo at all, but of course, only if you want to actually get one!

      Your husband got a tattoo in the EIGHTIES in TAIWAN? My, he must be a brave one 🙂 what tattoo did he get? Must have been really important to risk all that Asian-parent scolding!

  2. Your tattoo is awesome! I love tattoos when they are done well, but I’d be super nervous to get one when there are so many terrible fuzzy bad quality ones out there- actually, you see more bad ones than you do good ones.

    Looking forward to seeing your next tattoo if you get it done! 🙂

    • Thank you Chaz! Yes, fuzzy tattoos are not optimal! When I get my next tattoo (sometime in 2014)-I’m going to get my old one touched up as well. I think that you shouldn’t let a fear of a bad tattoo keep you from getting one: just make sure you pick an artist whose work you LOVE; are willing to spend the $$$ (because good ones are expensive, but worth it!)–what I actually recommend (and what I will do next time): is let you tattoo artist ink (with washable ink) the design on your body first; then GO HOME for a day and see how you feel about it. That way, you can kind of “test run” your tattoo. I wish I did that for my first one!

      • I didn’t even know you could ask to get a washable ink one! I would definitely have that done for sure. I definitely think that if you’re going to imprint your body you should be spending the moneys that good art costs.

        How do you go about finding a good tattoo artist you like? Do you have any tips? How did you go about choosing where to get your first one done?

  3. @Chaz: don’t know how to reply to your comment so I’ll do it here! 🙂 I don’t know if it’s common practice to let them ink it in washable ink on your skin before the actual tattoo, but I would pay extra for it! Like I said, it gives you peace of mind!

    My friends in Kansas City knew a good tattoo shop and had gotten tattoos before, so they just recommended one of the artists to me; so I visited the shop about 2 weeks before I wanted to get my tattoo done and I looked through his portfolio (most tattoo artists have theirs online now!) and I talked to him about my design.

    I think that when time comes to choose another one for my tattoo in Taipei, the best way is to ask around for friends/friends of friends who have gotten tattoos by certain artists before; and then make a preliminary visit; maybe with some google printouts and ideas! 🙂

  4. https://www.facebook.com/FengGetattoo

    If you do get a tattoo in Taipei…I would go here. The master of the shop has 30 years experience and helped build tattoo culture in Taiwan. As well, they have a Canadian tattoo artist on staff, so no need to worry about language barrier when your trying to express your idea for your personally designed tattoo.
    The shop is located in Rao He Night market…Highly recommended!

  5. Pingback: How Much Do Tattoos On The Wrist Hurt | Event Guide News

  6. Hi! Just stumbled to your blog here. I’m planning to get a tattoo in Taipei, but it’s my first time there. Where would you recommend I get the tattoo?

    You had awesome tatt ideas btw. 🙂

So, any thoughts?

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