Tiny Tattoos Tell All, or Nothing

16709371_10154318953257338_902361027_oJust moments after my quest for caffeine was realized, I was preparing myself for another late night homework session at my alma mater. My tattoos were the last thing on my frazzled mid-finals mind while pouring sugar into my coffee, but evidently not the last thing on the mind of the guy standing next to me. “Is that your only tattoo?” he asked while gesturing toward my arm. Trying to signal my hurry, I gave a quick negatory response. He immediately asked if he could pose another question.

I was slowly realizing that he wasn’t actually interested in hearing my well-rehearsed rundown of my seven tattoos, but the conversation still seemed innocent enough. I half nodded while planning my polite disengagement to head toward my dismal, yet comfortably familiar library carrel. What occurred next wasn’t actually a question, but several minutes of this guy I kinda-sorta-knew-from-a-class-that-one-time ramble of self-indulgence. He imparted what he perceived to be great wisdom about how women should find different ways to reclaim their bodies versus ruining them with tattoos. Unable to get a word out, my frustration continued to grow as he went on to suggest that most women who have tattoos are, in fact, trauma victims.

IMG_0530I stared at him blankly while the grip on my coffee cup became noticeably rigid. I asked where the question was in his series of statements and why he felt so qualified to diagnose every tattooed woman. He finally muttered, “Well, why do you have tattoos? You can’t tell me they all mean something.” While I eventually gave this guy-I-kinda-sorta-knew a less than friendly run down on the myriad of reasons that people choose to get tattoos, what I really wished I had responded with is, “Why do you care?”

You might be wondering what this story has to do with tiny tattoos, and I promise it’s all related. Maybe it’s not as clear as the thick outline of the compass tattooed on my inner forearm, but the question of tiny tattoos are alive and well in this scenario. The thing I love most about the growing popularity of tiny tattoos (micro tattoos placed anywhere on your body) is that they so powerfully answer the question of, “What does your tattoo mean?” just by their very existence.

The fact is a growing number of tiny tattoos have no meaning whatsoever, but exist as purely aesthetic, and even as a proverbial (insert four letter word that starts with f here) you to anyone who attempts to cover their misogyny, and/or superiority complex with questions such as the aforementioned. While sometimes they may denote a spiritual or political stance, often times they simply exist as a highly intentional and sometimes literal speck on these human shaped life vessels that we carry around for some unpredictable number of years. Why get tiny tattoos, or tattoos in general? Why not? And more importantly, why do I owe anyone an explanation?

Tattoos have been around for thousands of years and tiny tats are growing in popularity for so many reasons! Don’t have the money for that big half sleeve? Don’t worry. You can start out with a small picture to satisfy that tattoo desire. Many shops even offer discount days where you can walk in and select from dozens of flash options and walk out with a brand new micro version of an adorable martian companion staring back at you on your arm. I encourage anyone, especially women whose bodies are much more likely to be shamed, to get a tiny tattoo for every time someone judges any aspect of your body. If you’re into it. If not, that’s cool! I hope you remain a happy spectator enjoying the gorgeous butterflies (literal and nonliteral) of ink around you.