"I got my first one tattoo for my 18th birthday. My mom got it for me. I think my parents paid for my first tattoo to try and get it out of my system, so I wouldn’t get more. I think that was their thinking but it kind of backfired."
Why did you choose to study politics?
I honestly didn't choose it as my first preference. I was working and I wanted to go to university, so I applied generally for social science and arts, and got into Swinburne. Out of the different topics we could choose, politics was one that I was interested in. I did international politics in high school and I liked that. I really wanted to do history of archeaology, but Swinburne doesn't offer that course so I did politics! It worked out really well anyway and I really enjoy it.
I like the history of politics; how the world turned out this way, what sort of events and people structured it. I also like that it’s a bit childish (laughs), like when you watch politicians go back and forth in debates like children. It doesn't have any resonance in living, it’s so petty!
Would you go into politics?
No way. You think you’d go in there and help people or make the world better—I suppose they do in a roundabout sort of way. I think I might go into academia. I know I sort of choose politics in an offhand way but I really like and enjoy it.
I would love to live overseas and I've always would have liked to travel but I never had the time. I’d really like to do Vietnam and go for like a year or so. I’m just really interested in places like India, not really in Europe or America, just South-East Asia. I even think about moving to a different city in Australia as well. And I’d probably have to go to Canberra for politics if I want to find work there. I wouldn't mind it though, for experience. You gotta go where you gotta get a job, don’t you?
Have you had any problems with your tattoos?
I haven’t had any problems with my tattoos. I mean my tattooist in Traralgon has maybe nine on his face and his sleeves are totally covered and he is the loveliest person. He hasn’t got gang affiliations but if he’s out in Melbourne, (clubs or bars) won’t let him in. I’ve got another friend who’s got two sleeves done and his neck, and he’s not let in anymore either, but I would—maybe because I’m a girl.
I don’t think there are stereotypes of people with tattoos anymore, I mean I'm really quiet and nice and I like to do knitting and crafts. I have a whole stack of Frankie magazines next to my bed!
When did you start collecting your tattoos?
I got my first one (tramp stamp lower back) for my 18th birthday. I wanted sleeves when I was 15 but I waited till I was the legal age. My mom got it for me. I think my parents paid for my first tattoo to try and get it out of my system, so I wouldn’t get more. I think that was their thinking but it kind of backfired (laughs). I don’t think they like it, but they don’t say anything about it. When I get a new one I show it to them and they say nice things about it, but then they go, “You’re not going to get more are you?” They’re okay with it, it’s fine, but if it were their decision, they wouldn’t want me to have this many. But they’re really cool with it.
I didn’t tell my parents I was getting sleeves. I got my lower back and then my feet, and then my chest. I got it in two sittings and it hurt really bad. And then I started my sleeves. But I didn't tell them, I just said, “Oh I’m going to get a new tattoo!” I got it done it little sections to like lessen the blow of it.
I’m the only one in the family who has tattoos as well. I’ve had aunties come up to me and say, “You’ve made a mistake, you shouldn’t have done that” and “What are you going to do when you’re older? What are you going to do on your wedding or when you’re 80 years old?”
I’m not going to wear a white dress and be really traditional—it’s not in my personality anyway. It doesn’t really matter in the end. I don’t care but obviously some people do, so I’ve had some negative conversations with family members.
Did it make you doubt your decisions early on?
No. I like all my tattoos, I don’t have any issues like that. Also, I don’t care about what people think anymore. I mean when you go (into tattoos), there will be issues with some people. When you go get a tattoo, you think about it a lot and it’s not just a quick decision. At the start I used to think about it a lot and it had to have meaning behind it. Now that I have so many, I kind of like to have the random ones too. All of mine so far are quite thought out. I like the traditional tattoos—I’ve got anchors, pirates…I like quirky stuff, I don’t know how to explain it. I’ve got a third eye tattoo as well but I’m not really superstitious but I like to have it there just in case (laughs).
Sometimes I’ll bring in photos of other tattoos and my tattooist will use all three and make one of this own. I usually take in a folder of inspiration, and we’ll work it out and see how it’s fit for me.
Do all your tattoos have some sort of significance for you?
I think it’s a bit of both. I have some tattoos which have significance to me personally, and I have some that are symbols of luck (the number 13 and the horseshoe) and I have some that are just funny! I’d never do my face or the front of my neck. I’ve said I would never do my hands, but now I’m thinking of my knuckles. And I’ve also thought I would never do my legs, but now I’m thinking of getting them done as well! I get stares at the moment so imagine when I’m covered in tattoos!
On stares in public
I used to cover my tattoos, but now I don’t. At the start I was really insecure about it. I mean I like them on me, but after people look at me I thought maybe they didn’t like it or what they thought about me, but now I just don’t care and I’m used to it. And people touch and yell at you across the road and want to talk to you. I started my sleeves when I was 19 and I was really young and insecure and with people always in your face—I used to hate it. Now I don’t care and I like to talk to them and stuff like that...it makes me feel good. (But) not when they are in a van or a truck and are driving on the highway and yell at you, that’s awful. But I wear t-shirts when I go to work in the supermarket where it’s really busy and people come up to talk to me everyday and that’s fine.
I’m going to get my back of my neck done next year, and then I’ll finish colouring in my second sleeve. I want to have a really big long one on the top of my left thigh as well, up to my ribs.
What’s one tattoo-related thing you would not do?
I’ve never really thought about it, but now that I have I guess I wouldn’t do colour blocking. I also really hate the healing process—putting the tattoo cream you put on after you get one done. It smells like babies and oils and stains your clothes.
This interview with Meagan was originally published in WOOP ZINE #2 in early 2013.