Words Have the Power to Change Us

Yes, I tricked you. I used an Infernal Devices quote to sucker you into this post. Ten points to Gryffindor if you can name the character and the book. But I promise that this will make sense by the end of the post. Just bear with me.

People get tattoos for all sorts of reasons: love, passion, obsession, in memoriam, souvenirs, artistic expression, and once on an episode of L.A.Ink I saw a man get a tattoo of a chunk of Swiss cheese because he had become lactose intolerant. I think there was even an R.I.P. underneath it. In My Chemical Romance’s hey-day, I saw a woman with all of the lyrics to one of their songs tattooed on her forearm. Tiny, tiny lettering but the words were all there. The bottom line, though, is that these tattoos usually mean something to the person who bears them. They have a deep-seated meaning that may only matter to that particular individual. And that’s brilliant. If there is a deep, hidden meaning for your ink, then good for you. My sister has some gorgeous ink, and every single one of her tattoos mean something. Even if the tattoos are only there for aesthetic purposes, I believe they are there to fulfill a love of art or maybe simply a love of beauty.
What really ticks me off is the people that just want tattoos. I can’t tell you how many times I have had this conversation:

Person X: Wow, I love that tattoo! Where’d you get it done? (pointing to the sparrow on my left forearm)
Me: Oh, in Byron Bay.
Person X: It’s awesome. I want a tattoo.
Me: Really? What are you going to get?
Person X: I don’t know yet.

That really ticks me off. It’s like these people want the “street cred”or whatever of getting a tattoo but don’t really care what they get, so long as they have some ink that they can show off. Tattoos should be a personal thing. They shouldn’t be there to make a statement to other people to prove how tough you are.
Obviously, I have some ink. I don’t have as many as my sister, which makes me so jealous every time I see her beautiful sleeve piece, but I have a few. And I can tell you exactly what each of them mean to me:


  • Top left: This is the old Decaydance symbol. For those of you who don’t know, this is the label that Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz and others began. The first band they signed was Panic! At The Disco. Others such as The Academy Is…, Hey Monday, The Cab, Cobra Starship and Gym Class Heroes quickly followed suit. The reason I got this tattoo was to show the mark these bands made on me growing up. Anyone I went to high school with will tell you that I was a right little pop punk nerd. So I thought I would honour that teenage girl with band posters all over her walls and the iPod jammed so full that the screen started to seep from the pressure. I know it’s a dodgy little thing, but I’ll either get it lasered and fixed or leave it rough. I kind of like it the way it is, though.
  • Top right: This is a sparrow. I know it represents family in Spanish, as I have been told that many times when people see it. But that’s not the reason I got this particular tattoo. Fifty points to Gryffindor if you can identify this:
    “There’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come—the readiness is all. Since no man of aught he leaves knows, what is ’t to leave betimes? Let be.”
    Got it? No? That’s Hamlet. At the very end of the play. After the whole “to be or not to be”thing, which is basically Hamlet deciding whether or not to kill himself. This speech, the one above, is Hamlet entering the final battle. He is saying that no one knows when they are going to die, so just “let be”. He has finally grown up and accepted his place in the kingdom of Denmark. I like to think that everyone can take something from that quote. Even if it is the all-time cliche to live life to the fullest. Hamlet was the only Shakespeare play I liked. Yes, that includes Romeo and Juliet. That play just annoyed me.
  • Bottom left: C’mon all you Whovians, you should get this one. This is a reference to the “Family of Blood”during Tennant’s time as the Doctor. My sister and I used to call each other “sister-of-mine”to freak the other out, but eventually it became a term of endearment. My sister has a matching tattoo on her arm. This one was actually a 20th birthday present from my sister. I don’t think I need to further explain the meaning behind this one, do I?
  • Bottom right: this was my very first tattoo. I hid it on my hip so my mother wouldn’t see it. Eventually I broke down and showed her and she was fine with it. But I wasn’t to know that at the time. This tattoo was in commemoration of my favourite bands growing up. They’ve broken up now, but at the time The Academy Is… was still growing strong. This heart shaped rose surrounded by thorns was my way of saying “Take the pain out of love and then love won’t exist” without having to have the words on me. That was a line from my favourite, favourite song Everything We Had. You can take that line so many different ways, but my interpretation was always that love is never perfect. It’s not easy. You take the good and the bad when you love someone. And that includes your family.

I hope I haven’t sounded too much like one of those hippies that stop you in the street and start talking about the deep hidden meaning of why they smoke weed or how “you know, like, everything in the world is connected, man. That ant you just squashed the life force out of could have, like, fed a frog.” Everyone has had an encounter like that at some point or another, right? I just wanted to explain that even though my tattoos aren’t as big or detailed as I would like, they still have meaning.

Now to tie in the title of this lovely rant: I have big plans for the rest of the blank canvas that is my skin. First off, that “sister-of-mine” will eventually have a T.A.R.D.I.S. accompanying it on my calf, along with one of the Doctor’s most awesome quotes. Either: “We’re all stories in the end”or “I am and always will be the optimist, the hoper of far-flung hopes, and the dreamer of improbable dreams”. More than likely it’ll be the first one. Secondly, that sparrow will eventually be a Hamlet sleeve, with castles and vines, possible a ghost, and the quote “there is special providence in the fall of a sparrow” wrapped around some of the bricks. And finally, I have huge plans for an Infernal Devices tattoo. I have it all planned out. Tessa’s clockwork angel pendant in the middle with a violin on one side and either a leather-bound book or a Welsh dragon on the other. The blue flowers that Tessa decorated her hair with will be scattered around the edges and either floating throughout the tattoo or emblazoned on a banner along the bottom will be the words “Words have the power to change us”. This will more than likely be a chest piece. And why the Infernal Devices? Because there have been no other books that have effected me so strongly. These books made me feel deeply for the characters and made me so engrossed in the plot that it was like I was legitimately transported to Clare’s Victorian London. And as an aspiring author, this is the effect that I want to have on my readers one day. So Clare’s incredible trilogy has made me want to be a better writer. I think that this is reason enough to warrant such a big tattoo.

People get tattoos about music and movies all the time. But as soon as you say you want a book tattoo, that’s something strange. Which is ridiculous. Books are oh-so important. For so many reasons. So why shouldn’t we express out love for our favourite characters, authors, storylines with some beautiful, permanent artwork?


(Sorry, I had to. Never pass up an opportunity to quote Ten.)

About Bec Graham

Bec Graham, 24, was born on the wrong continent. Everything from her burns-like-paper skin tone to her inability to cope with the slightest hint of a hot day suggests she should have been born under the gloomy skies and mild sun of the UK. She hopes writing will get her to her rightful home one day. Failing that, she scans the skies for a spinning blue police box, hoping to catch a lift back to the motherland.
This entry was posted in Musings and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Words Have the Power to Change Us

  1. Olivia says:

    I am so glad I decided to check out your blog. Maybe the people who say they want a tattoo haven’t gotten one yet, because they are waiting for something meaningful to tat. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. It gets me in trouble sometimes.

    I love the idea of getting tattoos related to a favorite book! And I am a huge fan of Dr. Who!

    • Bec Graham says:

      Oh no, I love those people! I know a few of those people, they’ve told me exactly that. I’m talking about the people who just want one for the sake of having one. Those people piss me off.
      And the benefit of the doubt thing? Me too 🙂

      I know right? Book tattoos should so be a thing. There should be millions of them. I’ve seen an “Alice in Wonderland”one but I think it was more for the Disney movie than the Lewis Carroll book
      And everyone should be a fan of Doctor Who!

      Thanks for checking out my blog!

  2. I think it is safe to say at this point that we are soul-sisters. I agree with everything in this post. All of my tattoos have meaning and I am proud of each and every one of them.

    PS- I still love your TID tattoo idea. I’m excited for you!

    • Bec Graham says:

      I’m pretty sure we are too! Haha 🙂
      Ohhh, Which tattoos do you have? I bet they’re awesome!

      The plan is to get the TID tattoo for my birthday next year, Hopefully I can afford it by then! Gotta start that saving thing

      • I have a four-leaf clover on my shoulder that I got when I was 17 as a graduation present from my parents. I have a sisterhood symbol tattooed on my wrist, my 3 best friends all have one as well. I have an infinity sign on my ribs, which has a couple different meanings to me. Then I have a puzzle piece with a tree and colorful birds coming out of it on my foot for Autism Awareness, my nephew was diagnosed about a year ago. My best friend (one of the three that has the sisterhood tattoo) also has this tattoo on her forearm, since he is also her nephew. Her older sister married my husbands older brother. Kind of complicated, I know. But also pretty cool, since we have been best friends since we were 12 and now we are technically kind of family 🙂

        Shit. Now I have tattoo fever!

      • Bec Graham says:

        Wow! They sound awesome 🙂 That autism one sounds stunning. That actually makes me think I should get a butterfly one for Depression. We have a charity here called BeyondBlue and they’re symbol is/was a butterfly. I have known so many people with Depression that I can’t believe I haven’t thought of it before…I think that one’ll have to go on my foot. Ow.

        And that’s so cool! Related to your best friend, what a twist. Good one, life.

        Me too! Off to figure out butterfly designs now….damn it!

      • Haha the foot was pretty bad, but not nearly as bad as the ribs! I say go for it!

      • Bec Graham says:

        The outline of the tatt on my hip was so painful I almost passed out. Well, apparently I was really, really white. But then they lay me down on one of those table things and I almost fell asleep! It’s all in the perspective.
        I think I will. Starting to look up designs now.
        Oh! And I’ve ordered “The Ocean at the End of the Lane”. I should get it next week!

      • Yay!! You are going to absolutely love it!!

      • Bec Graham says:

        That’s the plan!

  3. valerierian says:

    Great post! And great ideas for tattoos!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s