What’s up with wrists? Maybe it’s just the moms I hang out with at MOPS, but wrists these days are all populated with ink! The question with wrists is: Is this for others to read? Or for the person who is wearing the tattoo?
The statistics say that 36% of millennials have tattoos, but to me it seems higher. You can’t walk into a beauty salon, a crowded elevator or a gym without brushing up against someone’s ink art.
Before you go all judg-y on a whole generation, we must ask the story behind the tattoo. These young adults are remarkably thoughtful and their tattoos are super meaningful, life defining, memorial markers of life events, decisions and paradigm shifts.
Here are some examples:
I was at a point in life where I was feeling like I was better managing my bipolar disorder and PTSD. Like there was hope of a semi-normal life! Although I knew there would also be many hard times ahead. I’d always wanted a tattoo but hadn’t been able to decide where or what. I started looking at African tribal symbols and found two West African symbols that resonated with me. I chose to put them on my wrist because often when I am having my hardest times and at my lowest I find my palms facing up from my lap as I cry and pray. The tattoo on my right wrist stands for wisdom, toughness, and perseverance. The tattoo on my left wrist stands for toughness, hardiness, and the complexities of the world. Each of these attributes meant something to me and putting them in a place where I was vulnerable, the wrists (often a place of death by suicide, near the scars on my arm from when I used to cut, a place when opened bares my soul), would remind me of my goals and all I had worked through so far.
It was one week until my 18 birthday and that was the equivalent to freedom in my mind. I was going to explore this new freedom with doing something you can only do after you’ve turned 18.
I drew countless pictures designing my tattoo during that week and decided on an Aries sign with a flower behind it. I’ll always be an Aries so getting it permanently placed on my body would be cool. I’ll always be a girl, and what would symbolize that? To me a flower.
It was the morning of my 18 birthday and I woke up excited! Excited about all the freedom I was about to partake in. I drove to the tattoo parlor and showed the giant man with a beard my picture. He asked about colors and placement , rubbed some antiseptic on the chosen area and began. The buzzing of the needle enhanced the anticipation of freedom buzzing in my mind. The piercing sting I felt with each stick of the needle reminded me that now I was free.
And it was done. I admired my tattoo in the mirror that Mr. Giant Tattoo man brought me…..and I was happy. I went home and showed my parents my new body art as if shoving my freedom in their faces. I went to school and showed my tattoo off to me friends: “look at my new freedom. I was happy.
Unfortunately my happiness faded. I wasn’t free. I was searching for freedom in all the wrong places. I wouldn’t truly find freedom until 10 years after my 18th birthday. I found true freedom when I accepted Christ as my savior. Freedom isn’t in an age, a tattoo, people, image, jobs, or independence. True freedom is in our Lord Christ.
Christina has a tattoo on her left wrist that says ‘Selfless Faith.’ It is written so that she can read it, rather than the world. Why? It is a self-reminder that her faith must be selfless, that the whole reason behind her faith is to serve the people God brings across her path.
Maybe, like me, you find it really difficult to try to judge these stories or the women who tell them. Most millennials are willing to discuss their tattoos if you ask them a genuine question like, “What’s the story behind your tattoo?” The answers nearly always reflect such purposeful intention behind their design that it makes me feel…a little…. shallow, by comparison. When is the last time you put so much thought into a permanent design?
If you want a deeper relationship with your millennial, ask them about their tattoo(s). Even the ones who don’t have them are willing to discuss them because it’s their generation’s trend. You will see a reflection of their most intimate thoughts in the stories they tell.