When I was around seven, I used to want to have my ears pierced. I would ask every so often, only to be told that I had to wait until I was older. I can’t remember if the imposed age was 14 or 16, but at the time it felt like ages away. Some of my friends had pierced ears, and others were planning to follow suit.I once went to my friend Laura’s house for tea when we were at primary school. We discussed my predicament, and decided that the best way to convince my mother that pierced ears weren’t so bad was to pretend I’d already had them done. Luckily, Laura had some bright red (slight Pat Butcher-esque) plastic clip on earrings that I could borrow, so I wore them home. At bedtime, I was surprised to discover that, despite my earlobes turning the colour of beetroot after hours of being tightly pinched, my mum didn’t fall for the trick.
I thought that the effort and throbbing lobes would at least go some way towards convincing her of my genuine desire for pierced ears, but alas, the age limit was still in place. And so, my friends around my decorated their ears with sparkle throughout the years, while I stood awkwardly next to them in as many bracelets, shag tags and snap bands as I could find.
Unfortunately, my neuroticism set in early, and by the time I reached the long-awaited age of ear piercing, I was too scared to get them done. Perhaps it was accompanying friends and seeing their faces as the trigger was pulled, or watching the thick crusted infected earlobes of fellow pupils at school, but something had changed my mind. I no longer wanted to, as my mum would say, “put holes in my body.”
So I endured many years of disbelief at the hands of my peers who simply could not believe I had made it through life without having my ears pierced.
Then, as I neared the age of tattoos, that started to appeal more. I toyed with the idea, but was always too terrified to commit to it, until one very hungover day when I was 18. I rang my friend and begged her to come with me, and together we headed to the tattoo parlour. The walls were covered in photographs of infected tattoos, with warnings of how awful all of the other local tattoo artists were, I have to say, I did not find this marketing strategy particularly reassuring.
I wanted something small, and something that I thought I would love forever. In the end, I chose a simple daisy, the sort you might doodle on your exercise book during maths. It was small, pretty and, I reasoned, when will I ever not love daisies!? And so, it was decided.
I wanted it to be hidden, so I asked to have it on my hip. I lay down, and began to sweat, as the tattoo artist scratched at my skin with his needle. After he was finished, the man told me I had radiated more heat than any person he had ever tattooed, which I can only assume was a nice way of acknowledging the nervous sweat dripping from my hairline.
That little daisy will be my last ever tattoo, mostly because I hope never to sweat so much in front of another person again, but I do love it. I haven’t grown tired of it, or felt embarrassed of it. I think this is due to the placement, it is hidden away on my hip, if it was on my forehead I would probably have had laser tattoo removal by now.
When I was pregnant, I was terrified that the tattoo would stretch and distort, leaving in its place a malformed genetically modified super plant that would stretch across the outline of my unborn child. And that as my stomach shrank back down, I would be left with a deflated, sagging flower etched across my stretch mark riddled skin. In actual fact, the tattoo has remained unharmed, totally oblivious to the stretching skin above.Research by the British Institute of Dermatologists found that as many as a third of people later regret their tattoos (you can find out about this, and more, here). Do you have any tattoos? Are you filled with remorse about them, or do they feel like part of who you are?
Disclaimer: I was compensated for writing this post, but all thoughts, words and daisies are my own.