The quintessential goodie-two-shoes Asian daughter, ie me, got tatted.
It happened about a month ago. It wasn’t a rash decision or a whim, because I’ve been thinking to get one ever since college, and I finally did just shy of my 25th birthday.
Of course, it didn’t go down well with my traditional Chinese parents. People who get tatted, in their books, are either
- a) Hooligans/Gangsters/Thugs
- b) Drug dealers/drug addicts
- c) Stupid
To a lot of young people, getting a tattoo might be something ‘cool’. I certainly thought of it that way when I was younger. But as I grew older, my perceptions changed. Tatts are going to be a part of you, forever. And to many, it marks something important in life – an event, a memory, a lesson that they want to remember.
I’ve written about this before, but I’ve always struggled with my ‘duties’ as a Traditional Asian Daughter.
I was raised in a (relatively) conservative household, where daughters are expected to follow and obey. I did just that, from a young age – until one day, I discovered that I was very unhappy with who I was. I had my own ideals, and I wanted to follow them. It was all very confusing : I respect and love my parents a lot, but I couldn’t be who they wanted me to be. I was afraid of disappointing them, but I resented myself for not having the courage to do what I thought would make me happy.
To them, I was an awkward and rebellious child that had to be protected and forced to do things that I might not agree with for my own good. They simply wanted me to conform, to be filial, to be what they had laid out for me.
I understand where they’re coming from. They truly believe that this is the way to keep me safe and happy. But there will come a day when they have to let go of the reins. I have to learn to make my own mistakes, fall down and cry, then get up again. I don’t love them any less, but I have to find my own way in life.
My tattoo is an embodiment of all those feelings. It was symbolic, a way of making a decision I felt was best for me.
Since the very beginning, I’ve always wanted a Lotus flower, because they’re beautiful and bloom even in the harshest, muddiest environments. It was a way of reminding myself that I should always persevere and hold on to hope even in the darkest of times. The Lotus is also Buddha’s vessel, so I felt it was appropriate. I was raised a Buddhist, and although I’m not very religious, many of his teachings about life resonates with how I’d like to lead my own life, and I try to follow them as best as I can.
I got tatted at Michelle’s (ex-colleague) boyfriend’s tattoo parlour. It’s called Exodus and they just shifted in to their new place last month at Damansara Perdana. I had the honour of being the second person to be tatted at the studio on their re-opening day, because Michelle beat me to it. ha
The studio was very cool looking, with pop art paintings done by the artist himself. The walls are glass so virtually anyone can look inside while you’re doing your tatt. There is a shade for privacy but since there weren’t many people walking around and it wasn’t like I was doing a tattoo on my boob anyway…
The design was simple, so it took less than 30mins.
Did it hurt?
I’d say my tolerance to pain is high, but yes, it hurt like a bitch. It felt like a cat was constantly scratching on my back in one long motion with it’s claw. We didn’t stop for breaks, since he said it was gonna hurt more that way. Michelle helped by distracting me with small talk lol. I was thankful that it was done and over quickly!
The tattoo bled for a couple of hours so I had to constantly wipe it off with some wet tissue. It didn’t actually hurt after the tattoo was done except for a light, stinging sensation. The real hell came after a week, when the skin started peeling and itching. I couldn’t scratch it lest it disfigured the design so I was just constantly tapping it lightly, willing the itch to go away. It was maddening.
It has been over a month and every time I turn back to look in the mirror, I feel a swell of pride. I’ve never been happier with how it turned out. I’ve never regretted anything in life. And this will not be one of them.All the experiences I’ve been through, pleasant or unpleasant, have made me who I am today. No matter how my physical appearance changes, those who know me know that I’m still the same person. With or without a tatt.