Making Your Mark: A Personal Guide to Getting a Tattoo (Part 2) by Kirsten

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Read Part 1 of Kirsten’s blog here.

The freedom of expression and potential to be yourself, visibly and authentically, is one reason why I found getting tattoos to be a positive step for me as a feminist. Whether it’s the result of difficult past experiences, institutionalised sexism or societal pressures, I believe it is important for all women to feel that they are entitled to take ownership of their bodies: literally ‘embodying’ our ability to take responsibility for our lives.

I look back on my tattoos as a move towards finding the courage to document my own story: giving myself strength from my ankles up! I was also happy to modernise the ideas that often surround women and tattoos. There remain a number of stereotypes surrounding women who are interested in tattooing, and some people – like those in the 2007 study described at the end of this article – even assume they have more active sex lives. Speaking as a card-carrying member of the Single Pringle Club, I regret to confirm that this is far from always the case!

It’s been almost a year now since I got my first tattoos at Nirvana Tattoo Designs and, believe it or not, I’ve returned twice. Three months ago I chose a willow tree and tiny bird design (a symbol of wisdom and a very special trip) and, after completing my Art History postgrad degree, a crescent moon silhouette just above my wrist.

This one – on my right hand, the one I use to write and paint – was inspired by female power: at the forefront of my mind was a lunar themed artwork by Scottish artist Frances Macdonald, and also the song ‘Moon River’ from Breakfast at Tiffany’s (if it’s good enough for Audrey Hepburn, it’s good enough for me!).

If it feels like a tattoo is the right thing for you, I’d encourage you to feel confident in exploring your options just as you are. Who knows, like me, you might even go back for more.

Three Top Tips:

It’s Forever, not Now or Never

  • Any reputable tattoo studio will provide you with a free consultation, so make the most of the opportunity to discuss your ideas at length. This is also a great chance to ensure you are comfortable with the staff, style and safety of your chosen shop. The people I’ve met so far have been friendly, relaxed and creative, so if anything would make you feel more at ease – from a female artist to a particular chair position – speak up!

On the Move

  • When considering your design’s placement, remember your body is not a statue: it’s going to move (the more the better, in fact!). Ensure you’re happy with how your tattoo looks alongside different movements and gestures. Eyeliner is an ideal way to get a quick preview – grab a friend to help sketch a simple version (comedy mustaches optional) and have a look in the mirror to check you like what you see!

Last but not least, food!

  • It’s important to be practical – I’d recommend taking a small snack to eat: either beforehand (keep that blood sugar healthy!) or as a celebration afterwards.

Good luck!


Images of Kirsten’s tattoos, and Frances McDonald’s ‘Girl in the East Wind with Ravens Passing the Moon’.

Kirsten MacQuarrie is a writer and artist who lives in Glasgow. In June 2016 she was shortlisted for the Vogue Young Talent award, and in November her poem ‘On Knowledge’ won the Glasgow Women’s Library 25th Anniversary prize. Her favourite things to do in her spare time include watching classic movies (hello Audrey Hepburn!), working on her first novel, and above all else hanging out with animals like her BFF Gypsy! Follow Kirsten on Instagram @glasgowgallerina.

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