Friday, October 12, 2012

The Girl with the Prawn Tattoo

At some point during the summer of 1993, I discovered ‘grunge’. It started with Pearl Jam. I lay on a beach in the South of France listening to whatever was popular at the time on my Walkman. Then my batteries ran out. My little sister, engrossed in a book handed me hers. I put the headphones on, I pressed play… and then I heard the opening bars of ‘Alive’ for the very first time.

In the South of France with my sister
Sam had discovered grunge through her school mates, a group of grubby hairy boys who played guitars and thought they were cool (to be fair, they were). During the course of our holiday I worked my way through her tape collection. The music spoke to me. It took my teenage angst and turned it into poetry.

I changed a little that summer. I swapped my sandals for Doc Martins (which I spent an entire morning rubbing against a brick wall, scuffing up, the worn out look was way more ‘grunge’ than the brand new look). I dyed my long hair purple. I started wearing tie-die hippy dresses and wrapped strings of love beads up my arm. I started smoking. I honestly thought it made me look cool.

I wanted a tattoo. But I was 15. And my mother forbade it. And despite many a  stroppy teenage tantrum she wouldn’t change her mind (which kind of makes sense now…).

Over the years my musical tastes evolved, as did my hair colour. But I always wanted the tattoo. There were a few times I got as far as the shop front. I looked at pictures. I accompanied several friends as they got theirs. Something held me back… maybe I was scared of the pain, or of making a mistake and living with the consequences.

At the grand old age of 29 I finally worked up the courage to get the tattoo that I’d always wanted. I chose to have a small butterfly on my foot, deciding that that it would be easy to cover if necessary, a subtle tribute to my purple-haired-Doc-Martin wearing days. It was also the last leg of my around the world trip and getting a tattoo seemed like the perfect souvenir to what had been the trip of a lifetime.

My travelling buddy Rob came with me to hold my hand and stop me chickening out. Sporting some seriously cool ink he proved quite the expert. I chose a design. The tattoo artist arranged a transfer of my little butterfly on my foot. 



“Is this ok?” he asked.

I considered the transfer for a moment. Clearly I needed to be sure about the position…

In that brief moment I decided to change the angel of the butterfly, so that I could see it better. So that when I looked down, I would see it the right way up…

What I didn’t realise was that whilst I got to see a butterfly, small and subtle just as I wanted… when other people see it, it doesn’t look anything like a butterfly….

It looks like a prawn…

I have a tattoo of a prawn. 



I must admit that I like prawns, especially when they are the main ingredient in a Thai Green Curry, or smothered with garlic and barbequed to perfection. But I don’t like them so much that I want to pay tribute to them for the rest of my life!

Thank god I didn’t get it filled in pink!

Do I regret getting it done? Nope! Not one bit. It was something I always wanted and five years later I still feel the same way.

Plus, as an added bonus… It makes me laugh!




27 comments:

  1. Very sweet! Mine is of a lily. Can't see it at the moment, because of engorged boobs and swollen belly!

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  2. Love this! 29? I was 40 when I got my first one, and it took 12 months and several attempts, and then a change of tattooist to get it right!!

    I love hearing the stories behind why someone gets a tattoo. And good tattoos are pieces of art. I love the two I have now, and when I get the next one, I will be going back to the same tattooist who made my wrist beautiful, and my side gorgeous.

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  3. I love that your butterfly became a prawn!! What a great story and reminder of your journey! I've not got one ... call me chicken lol, but I reckon it'd be on my foot or wrist if I ever got game.
    x

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  4. You went where I could never go. In my gorgeous grunge days and nights hanging out in London I wondered what kind of tattoo wld represent how I always felt and who I was ... Being a Gemini I couldn't decide. Instead o got my nose pierced in India but took it out when the towel loom would catch in it when I washed my hair ... Not very grunge was I?

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    1. I got my nose pierced too - in Thailand on the same round the world trip. I nearly fainted it was so bloody painful! It lasted the rest of the trip but I took it out when I started a new job after the travels x

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  5. I was the same as Bachelor Mum - I got my nose pierced because I couldn't ever make up my mind about a tattoo design. The nose ring came out eventually because I was a complete coward about changing and cleaning it. Lucky because now my kids would be using it to swing on! I love that you have no regrets about your tattoo - it is part of your journey and something that makes you you.

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  6. I love your prawn how adorable. I am so glad you worked up the courage to do something you really wanted too.

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  7. Lol thats cute. I don't think I could get a tattoo. BUt some tattoos I see I think wow they are awesome and some are just way too much.

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  8. I got on when I was about 22 I think. I have a butterfly on my shoulder blade, for two reasons, 1. I love butterflies, and 2. it reminded me of trying to catch butterflies in the butterfly net at my Grandma's house, and I missed my Grandma a lot (she had died 3 years earlier). I would love to get another one, something to represent my daughter but I'm not sure where or what yet. I am tempted to wait till we are finished having kids and get something to represent them all.

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  9. Haha, Sensational! How could anyone regret something that makes them laugh every day when they see it?

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  10. oh bless your cotton socks!!!!

    I want a tattoo.. I wanted one to mark my years in the UK..

    but chickened out because I don't want it to hurt!!!

    Its a great story.. and fabulous to tell the grandchildren one day!!

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    1. It's actually not that painful! No worse than waxing I'd say :-)

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  11. Another added bonus is that you get a great story out of it and others laugh along with you :)
    For some reason, I wouldn't have pictured you to be a grunge kinda gal. Then again, I saw Pearl Jam in concert and "Ten" was my anthem album throughout my last year at uni...but you probably wouldn't guessed that about me :)

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  12. Oh Pearl Jam! How awesome were they?
    I have an angel and it was support to be on my shoulder blade, but I pointed to the wrong area, so it actually lives at the nape of my neck. And people keep asking if it's Caspar. Why would I Tatoo myself with Caspar?

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  13. Older brothers and sisters have a huge responsibility to pass on cool music. Mine failed, but it all got sorted when I left home :)

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  14. My very first tattoo at 19 was a butterfly on my ankle, it looks like a butterfly, but one day when I was at home, my dad did not know about it, and said "have you just been to the beach?". I said "yes" my dad then said "oh then you have a bit of seaweed stuck to your leg" referring to my tattoo. The thing is he was serious, he thought it was actually seaweed! :(

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  15. That's so cute, at every one of my tattoos (4) they've made me view it in a mirror as well as looking down at them which, given your adorable prawn is probably a good thing. I checked my text tattoo stencil about a bajillion times before I let them ink it, I was so terrified of them spelling it wrong!

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  16. LOL!!! hahahahahahah. ROFL!!! Still laughing ...
    You're hysterical.
    A prawn ....
    I have a tattoo on my right foot in the same spot as well. Not of a butterfly prawn though .... a moon and three stars. Got mine when I was 30.
    So pleased I didn't get one as a teenager. I may have ended up with Andrew Ridgeley on my arm or something (he was the other dude in Wham).

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  17. I was a grunge girl too. I saw Pearl Jam at Alternate Nation. Those were the days!

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  18. that's cool. I have a butterfly wing on my foot, and people always ask where its body is!

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  19. I have 4 and I regret 2 :(

    First was a rose on my shoulder blade when I was 18. Then my ex husband forbid (hence he's an ex) me to get another. He finally relented and I was "allowed" to get one but only if it was next to my rose, so I got a fairy next to it when I was 19....

    Next came matching tattoos for me and my bestie for her 21st. Then when I was 23 I got my favourite tatt, a gecko on the top of my foot...

    One day the rose and the fairy will be removed!!

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  20. I plan on getting one before I turn 30 next June. This is a cute story. I love that you don't regret it!

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  21. I had a good giggle reading this! I love how you have embraced it, even if it isn't what you originally though!

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  22. I got my first tattoo when I was a rebellious 16 year old. I didn't live at home, so I had no-one telling me I couldn't! Back yard job that is actually not too bad for a backyard job!

    And my second tattoo about 2 years ago on my wrist.

    I'll be back again too once I can afford it with no guilt lol

    I like your prawn. It represents something. And they're the best tattoo's!

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  23. Good on you. I love that it has so much meaning behind it, even if it does look like a prawn lol. I've always wanted a tattoo but I am way too scared, both of the pain and the regret. My husband hates tattoos on women and that doesn't help either. I still want one though, but probably words along the inside of my foot. (Can be hidden easily). Don't know....maybe one day.

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  24. I was 30 when I got my first. I had wanted one since 15, so the fact that I still wanted it 15 years later made me decide to do it as a 30th birthday present to myself. Since then I've got another one and hoping to do one more with my kids names or something. Just haven't decided exactly what yet! :)
    xx

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    I truly appreciate this post Moon & Star Tattoos. I’ve been looking everywhere for this!
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