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The Beauty Girls’ Guide To Tattoos: I Wear My Heart On My Sleeve

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The Beauty Girls’ Guide To Tattoos: I Wear My Heart On My Sleeve

I still remember the look on my mother’s face the day that I got my first tattoo. She was intrigued, interested, and also agreeable - that this was my body and I could do with it as I wished. I remember the same look on her face when I first tried the bright lipstick trend and she wasn’t quite sure what she thought of it.

I, personally, have never thought of tattoos as a trend. To me, they are an individualised work of art. While I don’t dig butterflies or dolphins on hipbones or the infamous ‘trampstamp’ on a female’s lower back, what’s beauty to me, may not be beauty to you.

So, tattoos. Beautiful or bad-ass? Hot or not? Fashionable or timeless? An accessory or an intrinsic piece of you?

I have long been one to make decisions based not on thought, heart or head, but on my gut. It might take three weeks, three years or even three short minutes, but it has always seen me right. I got a modernised Maori ta moko on my foot before I fled the nest and moved across the ditch almost four years ago. It was a reminder of my whanau, my heart, my home and my achievements. It also meant people looked at my foot and showed off what I believe my best assets – my legs. It made me feel beautiful. And as weird as it sounds, I stopped wearing lippy or drawing attention to my eyes, because suddenly, my beauty regime consisted of getting people to notice my tattoo without directly telling them to.

As the years have passed I think of my foot tattoo differently, most days I forget it is there altogether, but on occasion, when I want to be a little bit girly in a pretty party dress and heels, it stands out like a sore thumb. It’s kind of like when you have been out too late the night before and have an event the next day but have under eye bags for Africa – what do you do? You cover it up. Well, alas, a tattoo coverup is not that easy, and I don’t ever want to hide it, but it does detract from my party frock – so, the solution – pack on a pretty pink pout and draw attention to my face rather than my foot.

My second tattoos were done on a trip home to New Zealand whilst living abroad. My mum had just told me she had cancer and I wanted to dedicate something to her and also to my gran who bore my wonderful mother. I chose my delicate, dainty wrists and emblazoned them with the longitude and latitude of my gran and my mum’s birthplaces. Mum told me it looked like I had just been released from prison. But they were, and are, beautiful to me and remind me of the two strongest women in my life. Every. Single. Day.

My latest, but not last, tattoo is nearly a year old and was done again for my mum - and also for my Scottish heritage. My mother fought chemo and then surgery and showed me courage in a way I have never seen before. So I had the Scottish Gaelic ‘Aran Cross’ for courage twisted on a plaited chain around my forearm. And I look at it every day, proud to be the daughter of Heather Vivian Kelly. The woman is a superhuman. A real life hero.

People can’t believe it when I tell them I am currently in the final stages of having a half sleeve drawn up – it will work in with my Aran Cross and will fill my arm from my wrist to elbow – “uurrgghh imagine what it’s going to look like when you’re 80!!” Yet my response is always the same: “Imagine! But it will still mean everything that it means to me now”.

Tattoos are always going to be a contentious issue, there is no black or white, and you either love them or hate them. I think of them as a part of me, as I have just expressed, each of mine relates to someone or something in my life, I wear my heart on my sleeve.

They are beauty, to me. They add an element to my daily regime, they are a conversation starter, they make me different from other people and they speak volumes of who I am and what I believe in. Just like smoky eyes aren’t for everyone, neither are tattoos….what do you think? To ink or not to ink?


*Article by Kelly Barriball
Kelly Barriball is a lover not a fighter. She is a daydream believer. She loves to write. She talks in cryptic. Creativity is her passion. Beauty is her obsession.
She is also the Director of gran’s loose change, an online vintage and second hand store that sells clothing, jewellery and accessories for both guys and gals.
And the most amazingly beautiful person you will ever meet.