5 Major Tips To Empower Your (Skin’s) Freedom

IMG_20150721_151855My first (and modified) tattoo 

Tattoos; Feeling the guilt of regret, yet?

You’ll regret it.“, “I tell you, you will not like it in 10 years!“, “Huh… Are you sure?“, “But, are you sure of that design?“: I’ve probably heard this gazillions of times when I always plan to get a tattoo. In Asian culture, getting a tattoo is still highly considered a taboo. Although the culture in Malaysia here seems to be broadening, I can’t help but still notice that it’s still quite a no-no for females to get tattoos. I’ve come across so many people who look at my tattoo(s) with a “Omg that’s humongous! How is she going to laser that off?!” look, oh sorry, stare. In contrary to the ‘myth’ that people get tattoos to seek more attention, I generally do not enjoy getting any at all, really. Especially if it’s attention for my tattoos. I also enjoy skipping the “What do you tattoos mean, like literally?” questions. I think I’ll ramble about that next time.

Anyway, my love for tattoos and I go a long way. I remember it started back in the early days when I was a raging teen. Being a rather depressive kid, (I know, which teen isn’t depressive at one point of their lives?), I got influenced and obsessive towards music – especially pop-punk bands that were cool at the time. I was buying pop culture magazines I couldn’t afford, saving up on my RM50 allowance to buy the much-enthused original CD that was going to be out in stores very soon (I was a die-hard fan that way) and crying to Usher’s “Burn” all the time. Haha, I guess the burn’s on me right now. Geddit?

The influences I got from the choice of music and bands I listened to had almost all of their members with colourful and (very) visible tattoos.

FB_IMG_1424256021150This isn’t a shameless selfie!: My very first fairly visible tattoo around my collarbone  

They got to me. The whole fad of tattoos that were becoming quite popular at the time taught me something that I never knew how I would feel about. I became passionate about the idea of tattoos, their symbolism and researched about them from time to time.

In order to lower my interest in tattoos and body art, my parents always told me that it’s a trend that will fade and that I am smart enough not to get into this fad that will not benefit me in any sense at all. They also warned me that it will only give me nothing, but pain (as in, physically) and negative judgment. They almost made me believe that these ideas of mine are going to be vivid destroyers that will come to life when not stopped and they will permanently be linked onto my skin for life and now, I go, “Yezzz, fo laif yo!

More than a decade later and here I am, with more and more art emerging onto my body and I don’t think I’ll stop. I’ve always stood my ground on tattoos and body art; in my opinion, they are an understatement – something that society has failed miserably to understand and that they REALLY don’t come in between of professionalism, attitude, personality or realistically, anything at all. Or stereo-typically worse, to get hold of A JOB. People, come on. It’s the 21st century, you guys got to grow up.

IMG_20150622_144044My largest tattoo to date (unfinished): A wolf’s head surrounded by roses

Your inner thoughts and desires on what you want to do with your body should not get in your way of professionalism, whether you’re self-employed or an employee. An organization should purely be professional and when looks really DO matter, you’ve got no choice but to cover up.

When you’re standing along the fence and unsure if you’re about to fall into floral dreams of personal, artsy satisfaction or rage in the fires of judgment and stink-eyes, I’ve gathered some personal tips for those who wish to get inked (for the first time or not) and how to overcome feelings of your “skin’s virginity” being broken and exposed for the world to see:

1. Tattoo placement – The areas of where your dream ink to be and whether you want people to know about your ink is often crucial. The first question that should pop into your mind is, “Do I give a sh*t of what people think of me?“.

I do agree that first impressions are fairly important, especially at job interviews, meeting new people for work and leisure, etc.

Of course, it depends on your profession and whether or not covering your tattoo(s) up is doable or not. If your answer to the above question is, “No, I DO NOT give a sh*t.” then, congratulations! You’re 20% on the highway to body art beauty.

2. How much you want it to be permanent – If you think about it throughout MANY sleepless nights, make sure if it’s the adrenaline rushing in or dreams checking into reality. Sometimes, the thirst for ink takes over too strongly and you might regret your decision. Tattoo artists are always available and saving up for one takes time but never do it when you’re in a rush. Your mind shouldn’t be hazy when it comes to the design, especially things like what sort of details you really want to incorporate into your piece because you’ll have to LIVE WITH IT.

If you also think that you can imagine yourself with a half-sleeve or your whole back tatted when you’re all wrinkly and old, you’re 50% closer to pleasing your lust for definite ink!

3. Pick a reputable tattoo artist – This is SUPER important because you wouldn’t want your lion to look like a Maine Coon, would you? I had my fair share of a terrible tattoo artist and it’s now on my forearm. Although it doesn’t look THAT bad to begin with, Picasso would frown upon my rash decision if he ever saw my horrendously done tat.

Take lots of time and research on the best tattoo artists available around your preferred area. Heck, if you’re really dedicated, save up and book an appointment with amazing international tattoo artists! Now, that’s something I would be attention-seeking about. 😉

4. What would your friends and family say? – Imagine it this way: It’s a big festival and all your family members and relatives have gathered together for a happy reunion and suddenly your aunt shouts, “Is that real?!” If you think you can survive verbal scrutiny and mini interviews from almost everybody present throughout the gathering, then you’re most likely already dedicated your patience and unwanted attention to your life-long tattoo.

Good news is after a while, everybody will get used to seeing that your tattoo’s part of you.

5. The most important aspect of this whole topic is YOU – Your life is yours to live and your body is yours to decide on what to do with it. Take a deep breath and think of all the possible consequences you would have to face if you decide to get inked. If you can live with it and it doesn’t affect your life choices, go for it!

As the Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius once quoted, “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.

Much love from a self-proclaimed art/ink junkie,



Author: Stephanie Leong

Making thunderstorms go pow-wow. Talk to me at stephanielkm@gmail.com

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