My tattoo doesn't mean anything, and that's what I love about it

On the inside of my right ankle lies a minimalistic eyeball, and it means nothing

When my mom asked what the tattoo on my ankle meant, I said it was a Sicilian evil eye as a homage to our family’s heritage as it would ward off negative spirits and energy. 

In order to win free tickets to a concert, I told ALT AZ 93.3 it was for the Tempe-based band, The Maine

When you ask me what it means, who knows what I’ll come up with. 

My tattoo does not have a profound significance, but it does remind me of where I was at that point in my life. I had just moved over 2,000 miles from my home and family, knew absolutely no one, and I constantly asked myself if I had made the right decision. 

Here I am a year later, confident in where I am and who I have become. My little eyeball reminds me of how scared I was of the drastic change. So to cope, I permanently inked my skin — talk about sweet irony.

With tattoos, it feels like there is a subliminal rule. A belief that we have to have some magical backstory behind them. We're supposed to justify the marking with some clever and lengthy origin as to why we have it and what it means to us. 

While that works for some people, I believe tattoos don’t have to be that deep. 

On the inside of my right ankle is a minimalistic eyeball, and it means absolutely nothing — inherently. 

I was barely a month into my first semester of freshman year and still riding the high of getting my first tattoo — one that did have a meaning, symbolizing my family — and I knew I had to go in and get another. 

What felt like hours turned out to be a few minutes and the chatter of “What does it mean?” entered the air as my friends ogled at the fresh ink. 

I began to rethink my choice at that point. It didn’t mean anything to me, I just liked the design, but I couldn't tell them that. I came up with something to appease them, and to this day, the meaning behind my tattoo changes. On the fly, I will make up stories and watch the awe unfold before my eye — the one on my ankle, that is. 

Our bodies are canvases, and I am a firm believer that you should be able to decorate it any way you would like. My favorite form of ornamentation is tattoos. They are subtle reminders of who you are, and you do not need to prove their significance to anyone but yourself. 

I remember the first time I saw a tattoo. 

It was a small pixie on the outside of my babysitter’s ankle. Over the years, it had faded, but the hints and hues of pink and blue were still just as bright in my young eyes. 

I wanted one just like it, and when I told her, she smiled and said I could get whatever I wanted when I was old enough. 

The one rule she had for me was it had to be special to me. It did not matter what anyone else thought, so long as it reminded me of a distant memory. And with that simple piece of advice, at no more than 5-years-old, I knew I had to get one, and once I turned 18, I made my way to the first parlor a friend recommended to me. 

As I held my sister’s hand and braced for the impact of the cool needle against my skin, I was reminded that the tattoo would be there forever. 

No matter how hard I scrubbed with soap or how much foundation I tried to cover it with, I was stuck with my decision. Now, I have four tattoos, and though some mean more than others, I love them all the same. To me, my tattoos bring nostalgia. 

Whenever I look at one, it takes me back to my headspace of when I got it. I am brought back to an earlier time — one where I was naive and another where I was lost. 

In the end, the nerves fade and I was left with beautiful marks — reminders of how far I have come with ample space to show where I am going. 

Tattoos are meant for no one but the person they reside upon. It is that person’s choice to ink or not, so why ask for a justification? Meaning is subjective, anyway. 

My tattoos make me happy, and that's all that matters — sorry mom and dad!


Reach the reporter at omunson@asu.edu and follow @munson_olivia on Twitter. 

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