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The art of tattoo pain: part 1

The longer I thought about getting a tattoo, the more terrified I became that if the pain was overwhelming and I cried or something similar, I would be letting my entire gender down
Ariana+Powell+getting+tattooed+on+Wednesday.+Courtesy%3A+Nola+Powell
Ariana Powell getting tattooed on Wednesday. Courtesy: Nola Powell

I sat in those black chairs, gazing at art on the walls as I waited for the stencil to be printed, the table to be disinfected and the waiver to be approved.

My thoughts were buzzing all around my mind, mimicking the vibrations of the guns running in other areas of the shop.

I had wanted to get this tattoo, my first, for years and finally, on Wednesday, the time had come but I was scared.

I was scared of the pain, but also the stigma surrounding getting a tattoo. Not the societal criticism of defiling my physical body, but the gender stigma surrounding the pain.

In the weeks leading up to my appointment, Instagram’s algorithm kept feeding me Reels about how women handle getting tattooed better than men. 

Some people suggest that because some women have periods and the ability to give birth, tattoo pain should be a walk in the park.

The longer I thought about this, the more terrified I became that if the pain was overwhelming and I cried or something similar, I would be letting my entire gender down.

Studies have shown that women actually experience pain sensations more intensely, and others that show them to be more accepting of pain.

There are studies that also show biases and judgment of women’s pain, leading to a facade of painlessness.  

I was obsessed with being strong for the sake of my gender and for a time lost my inner strength to simply be me no matter what.

I regained my strength and my sense of self when I saw the stencil on my skin. From there, I truly realized how individual tattoo experiences are and I only need to worry about myself, not what others think.

My tattoo is primarily on my rib cage, a place often considered the second most painful place to get one due to the thin skin and proximity to bone; the armpit area being the most painful. 

A lot of people told me to take something to bite down on, but I found I never needed it. Honestly, it was far more painful going over my stretch marks than my ribs.

Though, take into consideration that my family has always jokingly said I have no nerve endings, meaning I have a very high pain tolerance

After two hours — which it did not feel like — my line work was done, and an appointment was made to finish the detailing.

However, another battle laid in front of me in the form of a mini-identity crisis.

Despite my excitement and satisfaction in finally being able to get a tattoo, after a few hours, I realized I had permanently altered my body. Something I can never change, outside of going through an even more expensive and painful removal process.

It took me a while of going back and forth feeling bad about my irreversible choice. I’m still getting used to my tattoo, but I am starting to feel comfortable in my skin once again.

No matter what you hear, only you can make the decision to get a tattoo, but take the advice of others lightly, for your experience is your own.

Ariana Powell can be reached at [email protected] or [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Ariana Powell
Ariana Powell, Editor-in-Chief
Ariana Powell is in her fourth year at Chico State as a media arts (criticism) and journalism (news) double-major. Now in her fourth semester on The Orion and having assumed the editor-in-chief position, she is prepared to continue helping upcoming journalists and endeavors to continue building her repertoire of multimedia and writing skills. In her free time, she enjoys writing, watching and analyzing films, reading and spending time with her loved ones.

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