Skin Story: Becca

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Hey Becca! Lovely to meet you. Please tell us a little bit about yourself? 

Hi, nice to meet you! I’m Becca and I’m a Workforce Strategy and Culture management consultant. I recently turned 24 and I live in South West London with my boyfriend and a feisty little Jack Russell. I’m half Greek, half South African and I spent the first 11 years of my life between South Africa and Kenya, so a bit of a mixed bag. 

When and where did you get your first tattoo(s), and how did you decide on it? 

I’d been getting pierced at my local tattoo shop (Old London Road in Kingston) for a number of years so by the time I’d turned 18, I’d been toying with the idea of getting a tattoo for a while after being exposed to it and befriending the staff there. The Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli has been hugely important to me growing up. Their films are such magical tales with beautiful concepts. It might come as no surprise then that my first tattoo was a slightly cringey - but still very cute - basic outline of a Totoro on my ankle, and I still adore it to this day!

How many tattoos do you currently have? Do you have a favourite, or multiple favourites?

I haven’t actually counted in a long time but it’s somewhere between 40-50 at the moment. I think some strong contenders for my favourites are the two floral shoulder pieces I have that were done by Rebecca Vincent at Parliament Tattoo from a few years ago. Growing up, I had a tendency to be insecure about my big, slightly broad shoulders and, weirdly, drawing attention to them helped me to be much more comfortable with them. If I had to choose any other favourites, on my right leg I have a tribute piece to my favourite comfort/autumnal/feel good show, the Gilmore Girls, which was created by Harriet Rose at Tooth and Talon. That show is like my go to when I’m sad or ill, so it just seemed like a cute idea to have it immortalised on me.

Becca is lying down to show the tattoos on her upper leg.

Have your tattoos changed the way you see yourself, or your approach to your own body?

Yeah, I definitely think so. Whilst most of them don’t have a particularly deep meaning attached to them, collectively tattoos have become a really important part of my identity. I’m kind of nerdy and I have a really corporate job as well, so it’s always funny to me that people are really taken aback when they see my tattoos for the first time. They’re often hidden at work, not because of any particular rules, but just because I wear a lot of trousers and turtlenecks. So whenever I’m at a social event with colleagues or someone catches a glimpse of them, I’m always told people don’t “expect someone like me” to be tattooed which I guess has both positive and negative connotations. 

Becca is standing sideways to show the sleeve of tattoos on her left arm.

In general, they’ve helped me change my relationship with my body. I tend to think of my skin as a canvas now, and that makes me a lot more comfortable in it. People love to tell you that tattoos will look bad or will age badly as you get older, but I’m really of the opinion that everything wrinkles and droops as we age and that’s something that should be embraced rather than fought. If I’m a heavily tattooed granny with eagles that look more like moths under all the wrinkles, then I’ll have some good stories for the grandkids at the very least.

Do you ever worry about what other people think about your tattoos? Have you ever had any negative experiences?

When I was much younger, I had some really bad interactions with random men I’d encounter on public transport. I quickly learned the hard way that a lot of people fetishise tattoos and tend to associate them with BDSM culture, which isn’t really fair to tattooed people or people who are legitimately into consensual BDSM. In my late teens, I’d regularly get weird guys on the street or at gigs approaching me unprompted and asking me if it was a kink of mine to be tattooed or if “I liked it rough”. It’s just a testament to wider misogyny in society I guess. It angers me that this thing I’ve done for myself is again perceived as something I’ve done to “attract” men or that it’s inherently sexual. On the flip side, I have had several cases of older people approaching me and asking me why I’ve “ruined my skin like that”, as if they have any right to dictate what other consenting adults to with their own bodies. That one really grinds my gears. In general though, I like to think society in the UK is progressing to a point where I can be comfortable and safe with my tattoos being visible. 

Becca is standing against a plain white wall with her shoulder tattoos on show.

Do you have plans to get more pieces? If so, where are you drawing your inspiration from?

Oh so many plans! I’m sure other tattooed people relate to this, but the gaps begin to bother you once you get to a certain point of being “filled in”. My right arm sleeve is my first priority, I’m planning something big there - probably a floral piece or something with black negative but we’ll see. It’s probably obvious that anime and Studio Ghibli are big tattoo inspirations for me, so no doubt there will be more of those somewhere down the line. I like having reminders of things that make me happy on my limbs. Ideally if I got to a point where I felt like society would be more accepting of it, I’d like to get my neck and hands done too. But that’ll depend on so many factors, including whether I might lose my job over it. It’s a shame but clearly the stigmatisation persists. I’m really pleased to be at the point I’m at now though, I feel really privileged to have been able to get pieces from so many great artists over the years - particularly women - and I have plans to keep doing so in the future.