Tattoos and Their Meanings

Topic suggested by Anjali Soni.

Humans have been decorating their bodies with tattoos since the dawn of civilization. It’s not something new, it’s not something trendy and it sure isn’t something rebellious or otherwise evil. Sure, methods of tattooing have improved over the years as has the level of artistry, but the point remains the same: tattoos are an outward expression of inward struggles, personal battles or otherwise general expressions and sometimes status symbols.

Of course, I’ve already discussed the meanings of my tattoos so I’m not going to waste the space here. If you want to know more about my tattoos and the symbolism behind them, please check out the “My Tattoos” page (link in the menu bar). Instead, I’m going to choose five tattoos that I have seen on others and I’m going to give my interpretation of them in what I think they mean.

1)  The word “faith” in script. One of my coworkers has this word tattooed on her outer left wrist. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind with the word “faith” is religious faith – namely faith in one’s god of choice. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to mean this. It can mean faith in oneself (self-empowerment), faith in your fellow human being or just faith in the future. As this particular tattoo has no other symbol, it’s vague. For all we know it might have multiple meanings.

2) A thorny vine with the word “mom” at one end. This particular tattoo was on a waitress’ wrist at my favorite local eatery. I happened to notice it one day and thought it was a beautiful tattoo so I went out of my way to compliment her on it. She shared with me a heartbreaking story about how her mom had passed away a few months prior and she got that as a memorial. I thought it was very touching indeed, but the thorny vine just seems to signify a deeper meaning to me: namely it seems they didn’t have the greatest of relationships in this life and perhaps the hardship leading to her passing brought them back together.

3) Zodiac tattoos. Well, I do have one myself (Pisces) but I notice these seem to be popular, whether one is a hardcore believer in astrology or not. It is a bit on the strange side, but it seems most people mirror their zodiac pretty closely in terms of their demeanor. I know I sure do. I’m not suggesting that we try to judge someone based upon their zodiac, but if someone has a zodiac tattoo we can pretty much figure out their zodiac has to fit them.

4) Teardrop with a dog’s face inside. As an animal lover myself, this one hit really close to home. I can only imagine this person had a very close relationship with his dog who had passed away. I’m not too sure the circumstances behind the dog’s passing, but the bond between human and dog was just exemplified with this tattoo. It was very, very moving. If anything, at least his dog will always be with him with his image inked into his skin.

5) A bicolored, two-headed dragon. I’m throwing this one out there even though it’s an as-of-yet completed tattoo, but just a concept. This will a tattoo that will be on my dad at some point. To him, it’s a reflection of me. His plan is to color the two-headed dragon using the same color scheme as my Pisces tattoo (which, lo and behold, is two fish). It’ll symbolize his love for me (even though he’s not my biological father, but he has always been dad to me) and the connection we share (plus the dragon design will tie into the Kaizen which he already has, which I bought him).

So there you have it. I think we can tell a lot about a person’s struggles, triumphs, and general life experiences by the tattoos they sport. This does not mean we should make judgments about these people, but rather we should let them tell their story using their ink as a vehicle. All of us inked folk have stories or meanings behind our tattoos (well, perhaps other than the ones who get inked on a drunk dare, but that’s a story for another time), and as such we really need to lose the stigma of tattoos in the workplace or in other settings.

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5 thoughts on “Tattoos and Their Meanings

    • Tattoos are too permanent and too painful to waste on just silly nonsense. The ones who get silly nonsensical tattoos are the ones who regret it. A proper tattoo will have some sort of symbolic meaning to the person whose skin it is imbedded in.

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