When I met Kate Bornstein, my brain interrupted my moment of being starstruck with the very important information that ze has a TARDIS tattoo. This of course led to excited geekery, me showing of the giant Seal of Rassilon I have on my right calf, and hir pulling the sonic screwdriver out of hir bag. It was a short, magnificent, amazing, wonderful moment of connection, not least because I got that tattoo to celebrate starting on testosterone as part of my transition.
I have others. I have the spider from Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys on my right bicep as a reminder of the salvific power of creativity. I've got the Corsair's ouroboros (albeit turned 180) on my left wrist to remind myself that my complicated body and gender is beautiful, and that I don't have to feel guilty and afraid about it with other people.
I have other tattoos, too. A rose on my back that I got with one of the first friends I made when I moved to Columbia. A wren with a needle through its ankle from the Mabinogion to celebrate my name change. Gautama Buddha, from when it looked very much like I was going to become a lay minister with a small Buddhist church (and possibly the only story I regret putting on my skin because without context it looks...well, not great from a social justice perspective). A drawing I did based on the Burney Relief that was the "ring" from my messed-up, failed marriage in my twenties. The pseudo-nautilus a friend got me for my eighteenth birthday.
I even have a scar on my shoulder from the tattoo a friend's friend did for me when I was a teenager using a sewing needle and India ink, which was summarily removed by the dermatologist my mother dragged me to. I like this scar. There's nothing else like it on my body. It's the memory of a story.
People can be weird about fan tattoos, though. I'm not sure how much of that is the stigma associated with being really into a thing -- or, rather, certain things because it's apparently okay to be really into sports but still kind of weird to be really into a sci-fi show -- or the idea that those stories aren't important enough to get etched into our bodies, but John Lennon quotes and pin-up girls are. Or maybe it's the idea that these things are ephemeral or imaginary? Or that somebody else's story is the wrong language, and we should all be required to make up our own stuff using an acceptable symbol set? It it too close to brand names?
And yeah, I think there's an element of misogyny happening here -- women in fandom get a disproportionate amount of flack for profoundly irritating reasons, and body policing is a thing -- but that can't be the whole story.
This is really bothering me. I'd love to hear what others think about this, not least because I'm getting the ink itch again, and there are things I'm considering that fall into this range, and that's more emotional than I expected it to be.
Wow me, Internets. I love you all.