That’s What She Said- Eight Common Tattoos That Don’t Mean What You Think

I love tattoos. I love the history, I love the different styles, the techniques, all of it. I have several tattoos with plans for many, many more and I often put them on display. I paid a lot of money for the artistry on my skin and dammit I’m going to show them off. As a result, I get a lot of questions about my tattoos. A common question people ask me is if I think I’ll be able to get a job being as tattooed as I am (ironically, I’m most often asked this while I’m at work). I don’t anticipate my tattoos being an issue because I don’t plan to tattoo my hands or throat. Besides, if my writing the next Great American Novel pans out the way I want it to, then I won’t have to worry about my tattoos at all because I’ll work from home and, as far as I know, the dogs won’t judge me.


Tattoos are becoming much more mainstream in Western culture these days and at times it almost feels like more of a surprise when I come across someone who doesn’t have any work done. I’ve noticed that a lot of the same tattoos tend to be on a lot of different people, so I’ve compiled a list of eight common tattoos with “what you think they say about you” versus “what they actually say about you.”

1. Any Kanji Symbol

What You Think It Says: “I’m so deep and am invoking ancient traditions into my honor code through a tattoo meaning ‘courage.’”

What It Actually Says: “I picked a flash tattoo off the wall of the shop that supposedly means ‘courage,’ but actually means ‘pig ass.’”


2. Anything in a Language in Which You Are Not Fluent

What You Think It Says: “My worldly and cultured turn of phrase inked on my skin elevates me above your English ‘live, laugh, love’ tattoo. Perhaps I acquired it during time spent abroad? I’m fascinating!”



3. Dolphin

What You Think It Says: “I am a beautiful snowflake connected with the vast mysteries of the ocean and these highly intelligent creatures.”

What It Actually Means: “I got drunk during my spring break trip to Rocky Point and made regrettable decisions.”


4. Religious Imagery

“I died for this?”

What You Think It Says: “The faith I carry at the core of my being is so omnipresent in my life that I wear it on my skin as a physical sign of my devotion.”

What It Actually Says: “I love God so much I got him permanently marked on my body! What, you just served at a soup kitchen? Yeah, that’s not on your body forever so it doesn’t count. God loves me more.”


5. A Pair of Cherries

What You Think It Says: “Tee hee! I’m sweet but maybe just a little bit naughty!”

What It Actually Says: “I’m sixteen and coordinate all of my belongings with merchandise from Claire’s Accessories. Also, you might want to get tested because you are not the first in line for this ride.”


6. Tribal Anything

What You Think It Says: “I am hardcore with primitive, animal instincts. I am a tiger in the sack.”

What It Actually Says: “I’m in a frat and the only thing I did to earn this tribal piece that symbolizes becoming a man is do a bunch of Jello shots and complete a dare.”

7. Your Significant Other’s Name

What You Think It Says: “My love for this person is true and everlasting. Nothing will ever tear us asunder and I will bear witness to our love until the end of time!”

What It Actually Says: “This will be really awkward to explain to my next significant other.”


8. Your Own Initials/Name/Face

What You Think It Says: “I’m so awesome I needed a tattoo of me, on me!”

What It Actually Says: “This is how people will be able to identify me after the hooker steals my wallet.”


While I jest and lovingly mock these types of tattoos, it ultimately doesn’t matter what I or anyone else thinks of your tattoos. If the tattoo is important to you, then everyone else, smartass writers included, can suck it. Heck, I even have a couple of the aforementioned designs (not the cherries).

My first tattoo.

If you’re one of the untattooed freaks of the world, then I think it’s important to remember the words of Norman Collins, better known as Sailor Jerry: “If you don’t think you have balls enough to wear a tattoo, don’t get one, but don’t try to make excuses for yourself by knocking the fellow who does.” That sorority girl in your English 105 class might have a tramp stamp of a unicorn, but she decided, however inebriated, that she was willing to commit to that thing for life while you can’t even commit to a favorite brand of soda.

The eternal struggle.



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