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by Courtney Capone 6 days ago in body

Walking, Breathing Work of Art

Tattoos today do not hold quite as much stigma as they once did, but there are definitely still people who view them unfavorably. I have a lot of tattoos and plan to get more. They are not all visible but several of them can not be hidden by my clothes. Some can be partially hidden, some not at all, while others can not be seen unless I show them to you.

The fact that I'm a woman means that my tattoos are actually judged more harshly than they would be were they on the skin of a man. It's not feminine to decorate your skin.

The idea that my tattoos could prevent me from getting a job, to me, is totally ridiculous. The artwork on my skin does not diminish the ability of my brain to function, does not change my education, does not reveal anything about my work ethic nor my ability to meet job requirements. If anything, because tattoos are expensive, they show that I am a hard worker because clearly, I've been able to pay to have my skin decorated. Judging people based on something ON their skin... how is that more acceptable than judging them based on the color OF their skin?

It's less likely in my career field - the vast majority of us have tattoos, piercings, colored hair, etc. and we are still employed as vet techs. However, having tattoos in my field comes with implied risk that your artwork will be vandalized by the claws of a cat.

I love tattoos. I love everything about them from the smell of green soap to watching a truly great artist take an idea from my mind and turn it into art on my skin to hearing the stories behind other peoples' tattoos. Every single tattoo on my body has deep and personal meaning for me. I had two that went against that rule, and they've since been covered up and turned into completely different tattoos that DO hold meaning for me. Lessons are often learned the hard way.

What I don't love are the completely ridiculous questions that often come part and parcel with being a person who has tattoos.

Is that real?

Are you serious? Yes, it's real. What grown adult is walking around with fake temporary tattoos on them? If you've ever seen a real tattoo, it shouldn't be a question. They don't look anything like fake tattoos. Unless they are BRAND NEW, they have seamlessly incorporated themselves into your skin. And the ones that are brand new? They are scabbed, peeling and covered in lotion. So, seriously, can we stop asking people this? It's not an intelligent question.

Did it hurt?

Nah, it was licked on by kittens.

Tattoos are done with needles, Karen, of course it hurt. Some places on your body are more sensitive and more painful than others and every human has different levels of pain tolerance but by in large, yes, tattoos hurt! You are creating a permanent scar on your body. A beautiful scar, but still, a scar. Do YOU have any scars that DIDN'T hurt?

Can I touch it?

Um. No.

That's all. Just no.

Don't ask that. Ever.

Do you think you'll still want that in 50 years?

I can't even guarantee I will be alive in 50 years so I generally do not worry about it. It's part of my body. Do you think you will still want your leg in 50 years? I will still want mine, decorated or not, if I'm still around in 50 years.

Tattoos seem to turn some people into Barbara Walters, launching a full scale interview with you over your latest skin art.

Some of my tattoos have meanings that I do not openly share with people. This tends to beg the question, if you don't want to explain it, why did you get it?

Because it has meaning to ME.

The semicolon.

Semicolon tattoos have a deep meaning behind them. You either know it, or you don't. But I don't explain it to people. Those who get it, get it. Those who don't, hopefully will never have to.

The sign of the invisible pink unicorn.

The sign of the invisible pink unicorn. Again, you either know what it means or you don't. What I DO tell people is the meaning of the Latin sentences beneath it.

Truth above Belief

Love above Judgment

Peace above Everything.

Other tattoos I'm more than happy to explain and share. Some of them hurt far deeper than any needle ever could. But they are an expression of that pain. A release, a permanent shrine to a loss my heart still breaks over.

A loving tribute to my heart-dog.

Her name was Tornado. I called her Torey. She was my heart-dog. The dog equivalent of a soulmate. She was mine for 16 years, 1 month and 24 days. She did not like her paws being touched so I didn't have an ink print of her actual paw print, I had to settle for a generic one but the tornado with a dog collar on it made it uniquely hers. The tattoo was there before I lost her. The numbers were added after. Those numbers are the most painful tattoo I've ever put on my body. I cried as my artist inked them in. Not because it caused me physical pain but because those numbers are an end point of someone I will love for the rest of my life.

Dedication to a friend.

This tattoo is the only time I've ever tattooed words I've written myself onto my body. "Pain is meant to teach us but wasn't built to last. You can choose to dwell in tragedy or laugh it to the past." This is an ode to a dear friend of mine that died way too young. I'd known him my entire life and he was the funniest most light hearted person you'd ever met. He could make anyone laugh and when he died, it was like laughter died with him. He was also an actor, as was I so the comedy and tragedy masks are as much a part of me as they are a dedication to him.

I have two tattoos that are matching tattoos with other people.

One is just a simple question mark. It's on the front of my right ankle. My best friend has the same question mark on the front of his left ankle so that when we stand next to each other, our question marks line up.

What do they mean?

They stand for all the good times we know we had that we don't remember.

My mother and I also have matching tattoos.

I designed this one. My mother and I are oftentimes very, very different people. We do share some commonalities though and a love of reading is definitely one of them.

Our initials are now CM (my mom) and CC (me) but before we each got married, our maiden initials were both CS. The mirror of those initials inside the pages of the book are meant to represent how we're often opposites but find love within the same things. The words 'chance' and 'choice' stand for mother and daughter by chance, friends by choice.

My parents are massive influences on my life. So one day, I asked them to write a message to me. It could be words of wisdom (that's what my mom went with) or it could be just something they wanted me to carry with me forever (my dad's choice).

I had their messages tattooed on me, one on each arm, in their handwriting. These tattoos are precious to me because no matter where I live, my parents are always with me.

And of course, I love my pets.

This tattoo is incomplete. I have to add two more snowflakes for the kittens that we adopted on Valentine's Day of this year. But the snowflake came to represent my pets to me when I lost my dog. She was very much like a snowflake. There are a lot of dogs but none of them are exactly the same as any other. She was unique, beautiful, perfect in my eyes... as are all of the furry creatures I call my babies. So I got a snowflake with their first initials inside for each of them. Torey's was a lighter shade of blue because she was no longer with us. The S snowflake, is for my chinchilla Smokey. We lost him in April of this year, so when I add the two kitten snowflakes, my artist will add some dark blue and silver to Torey's and some light blue and silver to Smokey's.

My only political tattoo.

No Freedom Till We're Equal. Macklemore's words from the song, Same Love, that holds a lot of meaning to me. The rainbow splash background is in support of the LGBTQIA+ community and the shades of brown and tan (hard to see the color shift in this picture as the tattoo was BRAND new here) for the Black Lives Matter movement. I am an avid anti-racist and proud ally of all people.

A quote with deep and personal meaning.

I love Harry Potter. I do not respect J.K. Rowling in her transphobic bullshit, but the story still holds a place in my hard. Though it was written by a Death Eater. This quote is personal to me. I am not a religious person at all so after I lost my dog, people telling me that I would see her again at the rainbow bridge wasn't exactly comforting to me as it was not something I actually believed. But this quote, somehow, was comforting. That somehow, if not in the way people expected, she'd come back to me.

She obviously didn't, but I did find another dog to love. It took me time to truly let myself love her but when I opened my heart to her, I found what I was missing. This tattoo represents that moment.

My job.

My career as a vet tech is intricately woven into the fabric of my personality. The love of animals, the desire to save animals, it's part and parcel to who I am as a person. This was a cover up tattoo. The bear once donned a Navy sailor suit and held a purple rose. My ex husband was in the Navy. Lesson learned, tattoo altered, clothes changed. Now the bear wears scrubs and holds a puppy. A nod to my #ScrubLife.

Finally, I have two tattoos that truly show my personality. All of them do that in their own ways, but these two most of all.

I may actually be crazy.

WHO I am, WHAT I am.

"I'm not crazy, my reality is just different than yours". Who could not love that quote? It's very true for me. I tend to live in my own little world and I dream bigger than big.

But more than I'm anything in this life... I am a writer. It's part of me. It's something I do because I HAVE to do it in order to BE ME.

There will be more tattoos. They will all hold meaning to me. They will come with stupid questions from the undecorated masses.

Tattoos do not define a person. People define tattoos.

My body, my choice. It says nothing about my abilities.

And I'm just as feminine as I was before I became breathing art.

Courtney Capone
Courtney Capone
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Courtney Capone

A veterinary technician, writer and animal advocate from New York. Currently living in South Florida and desperately trying to escape. Runs on Starbucks and the love of her husband and 7 rescue animals.

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