Tattoos carry different meanings for everyone. They capture memories, tell stories and represent different parts of an individual. For this week’s edition of Tattoo Tuesdays, I sat down with junior English major Carly Laird to hear about the tattoos that represent her faith and her story.
How many tattoos do you have and where did you have them done?
Four. Three of them I got at a shop near my house, and the other one was from 717 Tattoo in Harrisburg.
Which tattoo hurt the most?
The one on my back shoulder because it has a lot of shading, and it took like an hour and a half.
What is the most common question you get asked about your tattoos?
What does it mean? Did it hurt? Why did you get that? You end up getting a script for each one in your mind and saying the same thing when someone else asks them.
I think this is starting to change because more people are getting them, but there is still the stigma of marking you as a rougher person, particularly as a woman who has tattoos, people expect the little anchor or cross that is dainty—I have some of the big ones; that marks you as being edgy.
Which tattoo means the most to you?
I think my first one, the dove on my wrist. For me, I got it to remind myself of my faith, and when I got my tattoo, I was very, very strong in my faith. Now that I’m even less so, I still don’t regret having it. It reminds me of a snapshot of my life that I can learn from. So when I look at it, I am reminded of where I was at the time, compared to now and what I have learned from that moment.
Do you plan on getting more tattoos?
Yes. I do not have anything specific in mind, but I also know that I would be open to getting more. They always say the more addictive they are, the more you want which is probably true.
How do you handle the pain?
I do remember that what I heard the most was my niece was there, and she was laughing while my step-sister was holding her, and I was in so much pain—my niece was laughing and I was like ‘smile for the baby.’
What advice would you give to someone considering getting a tattoo?
Particularly for your first tattoo, you have a certain image in your head for awhile. For me, I had the image of the dove in my head for a year before I actually got it. For your first one, that is helpful. My tattoos are for myself. I don’t get it thinking what someone else will think about it, or ‘oh this will look so cool,’ but people look at it, and they don’t really understand it as it has a lot of deep meaning to me. I think tying it to that is really important.
What is one thing you wish everyone knew about tattoos?
People who have a negative view of them, for so many people, getting tattoos is like claiming the space. Like for me, this is my body, I am choosing to get this mark, and I am choosing to connect with this image to who I am as a person. You end up forgetting that it’s a part of your body, a part of your skin almost. I think that’s really important for people to remember when they are criticizing others who have tattoos.