Tattoos for cancer
Why would anyone have a tattoo?
Well at the age of 64 ¾ I have had my first!
The history and practice of tattooing is both long and complex. In ancient China tattoos were apparently used to identify criminals and in early Roman times tattoos were the mark of a Barbarian! In some places around the world, they were and still are illegal. They still carry a negative stigma for some. On the other hand, it is interesting to see how many Asian cultures see tattooing as an art form, using the body to depict scenes from nature or life events.
Today, some people have a negative emotional response, even a prejudice against tattoos and in my experience some people are often keen to express their horror and distain of the practice, even to your face. The presence of tattoos can still be a block for employment in jobs and professions, and some organisations insist that tattoos must covered up, in public/customer facing jobs.
Other people just love them and even if they don’t have one themselves, they can respect the fact you would want one. It’s interesting that it appears to be a ‘Marmite thing’. You either love or hate them.
So why did I get one?
Well, the first reason for me was to honour a loved one, my amazing wife Victoria. This is a woman who has renewed my faith in so many ways. Victoria’s fight against breast cancer continues to be an inspiration to me. I love her and her positive optimism and her joy for people and for life. When she decided to have a post-mastectomy and body tattoo as her personal statement and declaration/celebration of life, I couldn’t resist joining her in the experience.
Her tattoo is beautiful, future focused and inspiring. Her values, her faith, and her identity shines through the piece. I was in awe of the way she was able to express her spirituality and faith through this body art form. Victoria always welcomes comments and questions when people ask her or compliment her about her tattoo. She has quite a story to tell and her tattoo gives her an opportunity to tell it.
My tattoo, autumnal maple leaves, also reflects and honours my heritage as the son of my late Italian/Canadian father who volunteered in the Second World War to fight for this country and our allies, to defend freedom and defeat Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan. After the war, with some dismay and personal pain, he even had to change our Italian family name to overcome prejudice and discrimination in the UK at that time, to live here in peace with me, my late Mother Kathleen and my wonderful Sister Lynn.
My next tattoo? Oh yes, there will no doubt be more, will probably be a focus on our six wonderful children and our four grandchildren (so far).
This story unfolds and continues, and there is always a story with a tattoo. I have learned incidentally, that it is a safe way to start a conversation with a stranger, if they have a tattoo on show that inspires or intrigues you. Be respectful, but never shy to ask questions.
I have also learned that you don’t get a tattoo to seek approval or affirmation from others. You do it for you and that’s fine.
In the UK, it is believed that one in five people have a tattoo. With a few exceptions, the UK no longer finds them socially unacceptable. Tattoos are becoming more popular with a wider audience, individuals no longer suffering from tattoo social stigma. People from all walks of life are having tattoos for many reasons including birthdays, celebrating a new-born, or a family loss.
Footballers, celebrities, and actors are showing off their tattoos and making it ‘cool’. The young (and older) generations are becoming positively influenced. The Manchester Bee became a massive favourite with all age groups in recognition of the solidarity and loss after the Manchester Arena Bombing for example.
No matter what the reason for having a tattoo, it has become clear that the stigma and prejudice is diminishing, and rightly so.