These are all reasonably attractive Hongkong women who have chosen a somewhat unconventional way to decorate their bodies – with tattoos. Of course, ladies with tattoos are no longer shocking in this millennium, but on a very respectably dressed young lady, the sight of a partially concealed tattoo still raises questions in the beholder’s mind.
Her favourite piece is her right sleeve. Evelyn claims to be doing it only for artistic reasons and I agree that her master’s work is indeed quite impressive. Her mother was completely against it at first, thinking that tattoos stand for everything bad. Eventually, her mother was not only supportive of her pursuit but even had a tattoo done on her own body! We’re yet to see Evelyn’s own work. Does she have a future as a tattoo artist?
Yaki thinks that just as some people go for cosmetic surgery to improve their appearance, she goes for tattoos to improve her confidence. Yaki goes for bright colours and had her tattoos done by foreign artists when she travelled. Each piece is like a souvenir!
Lily is straightforward. She just wants to look “good”. No special meaning or story and the pattern that rises to her chin seems to suggest that she looks at things in a very unconventional way. She believes that tattoos are a great way to express one’s style and personality. Tattoos don’t just make you look bad or sexy. They can be linked to a lot of other themes. Her family used to be unsupportive, but now, even her grandma wants a tattoo done!
Vivi thinks that tattooing is not to beautify but to express something permanent about yourself. As a tattoo artist, she often finds herself helping clients get over some of their unpleasant memories.
The following videos show the ordeal that some go through when they do extensive tattoos in sensitive areas. Why not just wear something over the skin? Why must the adornment be permanent? Is it because these women lack a hold on all things they love in this everchanging society?
Yan Yan is a somewhat unusual case. She told me that she tattoos herself (one flank at a time) because she finds the images beautiful. The pictures you see above are all unedited. On her own social media sites, however, she edits her photos beyond recognition. Similarly, she has the online persona of a melancholic, neglected woman. She would constantly blast out at some imaginary boyfriend, gaining sympathy from her followers when she’s actually happily married. Sometimes the images reveal. Sometimes they mislead.
Art or mutilation? Exhibition or illusion? Can mutilation be a form of art? Can art be a form of mutilation. Our answers will always be subjective and it should be with calm understanding and not with flustered prejudice or quick judgement that we arrive at them. It’s just like wearing the same dress does not automatically make two women the same in every way, tattooed people can be as varied as people who dye their hair.
Can you bear the pain? What reason could anyone have to tattoo herself so extensively? I’ve often wondered – which is why in spite of not having any tattoos myself and with no intention of getting any, I’m so curious why people endure such pain (and spend so much money) to get themselves tattooed. And their answers never cease to amaze me. Some see beauty in the bodyart (and sometimes they do have a point). Some want to improve their self esteem (and it does work in some cases). Some are just a bit off their rocker.
Lauren got a new tattoo courtesy of Dewdrop Publications. She has been very open about her past and I have written about how she emerged from a very dark chapter early in her life – with her tattoos. To read all about her story and many others, check out our book, Leaving The Pain Behind.