This past weekend, Josh, Reid, and I (representing Sneak Attack! Podcast) made another pilgrimage to Hoover, Alabama as guests of Hoover Public Library’s SciFi/Fantasy Fest. We were also guests two years ago and made a lot of amazing connections, so when they asked us again and our schedules were clear, it was an easy yes.
For those of you who don’t know, being a part of Sneak Attack has been formative in my paradigm of feminism and how I believe women should be treated. According to Josh, my skin has gotten a lot thicker— trolls and jerks prowl on the internet and social media, waiting to strike. I don’t know if what he says is necessarily true, but I do know the positive feedback and encouragement I’ve received from feminists (women and men alike) has been empowering, and I have never felt more confident in the importance of using my platform to do the same for women listeners/readers.
Last time we were in Hoover, we spent quite a bit of time with the man responsible for hiring us to come down, Justin. His wife, Caitlin, and I quickly became soul sisters— she, a librarian, and me, an English teacher— both feeling passionate about the feminist cause (AND BOOKS). As someone who had several tattoos already, I expressed to her that I wanted one that depicted my desire to be a strong woman, but hadn’t landed on a design that resonated with me. I wanted something that had a lot of meaning, and required some back knowledge.
“Have you heard of the mummy they found in Siberia?”
She continued to tell me of a mummy that had been discovered and studied by archaeologists in the tundra. Based on her burial placement, as well as artifacts and her tattoo, they believe she was royalty, as well as a warrior. Culturally, it’s believed they had tattoos done of the creatures they killed. This woman had the tattoo of a stag on her arm.
Caitlin pulled up the image: a beautiful, flowered stag, like something out of a fantasy novel or film. It was a perfect emblem of strength, beauty, power, and bravery. I knew it was what I wanted.
Two years have passed, and I’d like to think Justin hired us to help this come to fruition. Caitlin and I were able to dip out of the convention to get the tattoo together: me on my forearm, to remind me while I work, and Caitlin on her back at the center of her being..
I love that this tattoo comes with its own story, but I love even more than it’s a symbol of my journey. The fact that it wouldn’t have happened without Sneak Attack and the connections we’ve made. The fact that it symbolizes the trials and tribulations I’ve experienced because of my voice and presence on Sneak Attack. The fact that I got it with the strong woman who gave me the idea, and that it was done by an amazingly talented woman tattoo artist. Just all the girl power vibes.
I won’t lie. I did not enjoy the feeling while being tattooed. But Caitlin helped articulate a beautiful metaphor: the pain of being tattooed is the manifestation of the emotional pain I’ve felt this far in life, and now this tattoo serves as a beautiful reminder of who I am, what I’ve been through, and why I must keep going. Every time I look at it, I’m reminded of the women around me and the strength I can draw from them, but I’m also reminded of my own strength.