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I recently (or not recently, depending on when I decide to publish this) got a new tattoo – a little hand-poked word on my ribs which brings my tattoo total to 5, for now…I love getting tattoos, and whilst I don’t believe every tattoo needs to have a meaning, this is one of the two of mine that do. I find it hard to talk about what they mean, so I often go with “I don’t know” when people ask about those specific ones. Great answer Lauren. I’ll go into what hand-poked tattoos are and my experience of them in a few paragraphs, but until then I’m going to try and articulate what this little bit of ink actually means to me.

I’m a very restless person; I rarely feel happy or content with where I am at any given point in my life. I constantly want more for myself, which can be both good and bad. Good because I’ll never let myself settle – I know what I want and most of the time, I’m set in my ways. Bad because I can feel trapped if I get too unhappy. This happened about a year and a half ago, when I was still in retail and hating my life, I know, you’ve heard it all before. I’ve never felt more unhappy and trapped in my whole life (although I am only 20), I was applying for what felt like 50 jobs daily and had no luck for about a year. It was the most hopeless year of my life. I see my little tattoo as a reminder that I did it, I came out the other end and there’s always hope, no matter how you feel. I never want to feel like that again, but now I have the experience and reminder that it does get better and I can do it.

It’s also a reminder to me of my love of travelling and discovering new places. I feel so lucky to have a passport and a travel buddy (whether he likes it or not) to explore new countries and new things. I tend to feel a bit anxious and homesick when I’m away, especially if I’m not comfortable where we’re staying or with the country in general (in terms of safety on the streets) but I never want to take for granted the fact that I am free to travel and do as I please, because one day I might not be able to. I can feel anxious and homesick when I’m home (maybe??) and stop wasting the evenings we have because I can’t be bothered or would rather stay inside. Make the most of the short time we have in beautiful places!

This tattoo was done at Whiteward tattoo studio, which is in Prestonpans aka Edinburgh for all you non-Edinburgh folk. It took me a while to find the place and the lovely Lea, who did my tattoo, kindly came out to fetch me in the rain. Lea was an angel right from the start, she put me at ease straight away and told me about how rib tattoos can feather a little, checking that i definitely wanted to go ahead with it. She even used the needle to show me how it would feel, without any ink, on my ribs to check I was fine with it. Side note: I absolutely was because it didn’t hurt me whatsoever. Tweezing my eyebrows hurt more.

Hand-poked tattoos do take longer because it’s a single needle going into your skin (am I really selling it to you?) repeatedly and it can take a little while for the ink to build up into the design. Mine took about an hour, just under I think, and it cost me £60. Tattoos are one of the things you shouldn’t try to get ‘on the cheap’ though – they’re on your skin forever and you shouldn’t try to get a bargain as opposed to a good design. I would definitely recommend researching the tattoo parlour and the tattoo artist – make sure they do the style you want, make sure they’re reputable, check reviews and their instagram pages.

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I’ve found that this tattoo is healing much faster and better than any of my previous 4 – it doesn’t peel even nearly as much, which my boyfriend is very thankful for because he hates that. I’ve used Hustle Butter on all my tattoos, which is a body butter specially designed for the healing of tattoos, and I use it until the tattoo has fully peeled away and I can’t feel it on my skin anymore. Every tattooist has a different recommendation – I went with what my first tattooist recommended and have continued using it since. It saves me buying what each person tells me to, meaning I can spend more money on tattoos! Sorry mum.

It’s not easy talking about the meaning behind tattoos, I’ve now realised, and I don’t think you should ask somebody about theirs. If they don’t have a meaning, you’ll probably make them feel a little awkward, and if it does have a meaning and it’s super personal, they’ll feel awkward because they don’t want to tell you. I would advise to just bypass that question entirely, unless they decide to tell you themselves.

I cannot wait to keep getting more ink, it’s literally an addiction. I love each and every one of my designs and I can’t wait for my little collection to grow (which will be happening very, very soon).

Do you have any tattoos?

View Comments (2)
  • The tattoo is fab, Lauren, and I love the meaning behind it! And the placing! I’ve got the one tattoo at the moment, it’s a little heart with a plane as part of the heart and is tiny and placed on the inside of my right ankle. I only got it one a month ago as a celebration of my end of another college year, and as the start of my next chapter which will be a college semester abroad! I agree with you- tattoos are an addiction, I’m already planning my next!!

    – Khloe x

  • I looove rib tattoos and this one is particularly cute! I feel like the meaning is one that will adapt with you through life, too. I like finding out the meanings of tattoos, but I ask if it has one, rather than what it is, and only if someone shows me their tattoos. Asking a stranger would be awks!


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