“Memories of the flesh are indeed powerful, both to the messenger *and* the viewer”.
Originally posted on RiotGrrlGeek:
The answers to that simple question warrant several blog posts, so I’ll keep it short. Some people just love the look and feel of body modifications. They appreciate the skill that goes into making a piece of art on flesh. They love the feel of metal against skin. Or maybe they love the outlaw symbolism that goes hand in hand with body art. Usually, they have a lifetime love affair (or at least, a reoccurring fascination) with the art that is tattoo design. I should know: I’m one of these people. My love affair started at the age of three, when I first noticed an anchor on my great-uncle’s forearm. He also had a battleship on his chest. I remember crawling in his lap and begging him to roll up his sleeve. Uncle Sam didn’t like showing off his tattoos when he got older, or talking about them, but as a Navy boy during World War II, he got a new one every time his ship set sail. It also probably didn’t help that his brothers would beat him every time he got a new one. They finally realized that the more grief they gave him, the bigger his itch for ink grew. But by that point, he had quite a few!
Stories circulate around the family as to why he chose to hide his tattoos later on. One legend is that the aforementioned anchor tat was one he got with the rest of his platoon, and the day after, their ship was targeted. Of his buddies, Sam supposedly was the only survivor. That’s a painful memory to carry around for 60+ years.
Which brings me to the subject at hand. While there are plenty of tattoo junkies who like the culture surrounding tattoos (and quite a few people who like the “trendiness” of getting certain styles, such as “tramp stamps”…*shudder*), there are just as many people who get them to preserve memories. Whether it be the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, and all life’s stepping-stones in between, there’s a design for everything. But why on earth would people choose to get a permanent, tangible reminder of what is probably one of the most horrific experiences they will ever suffer through?
What is it with survivor tattoos?
Well, what is a “survivor”? The Survivor Project explains it beautifully:
“The word “Survivor” has a very different meaning than the word “Victim”. A Survivor is a man or woman who has lived through some of the worst acts a human can do to another human, but has not given up on life. Instead, a Survivor chooses life and becomes a beautiful, innovative, driven, and creative person in spite of all they have lived through. Abuse, violence, kidnapping, attempted murder, rape, and acts of terrorism will undoubtedly change a person’s life forever. But these survivors chose to use that unavoidable life change to create something better in life for themselves or others.”1