In the many decades since I first became tattooed and during which I have continued to do so, on rare occasions I run into people where I just can't seem to comprehend the motivation behind their body art. For most people, I can look at the art and look at their lives and I get where they are coming from. I've never met her, but Britney Spears is one of those tattoo enthusiasts where I just can’t fathom why she does what she does.
Her collection of tattoos includes a fairy on the small of her back, a kanji on her hip, some Hebrew on the back of her neck, a kanji and butterfly on her foot, some dice on her wrist, and just added before she checked back into a rehabilitation facility, a cross on her hip and some lips on her wrist.
Her foot tattoo, tattooed in NY in the summer of 2004, is of a kanji for "freedom" with a vine and butterfly added around it. She got it to symbolize that she was "free as a butterfly" but really, was she living her life freely at the time? Given the amount of handlers and managers in her life, I'm guessing she was yearning more for a free life and not really living it.
Twice Britney has managed to get tattoos that had errors in the designs. I don't care how much people say they can get it lasered off later. I think how you consider your body and what you put on it is a pretty clear sign of one's mental state. To get tattoos that aren't "correct" is a warning sign to me that you yourself are not paying close enough attention. The kanji on her hip that she intended to read "mysterious" is really translated as "strange." I think those two words have radically different meanings, and sadly, Britney seems to be really embracing the tattoo meaning she wears. The tattoo on the back of her neck that was supposed to mean "new life" in Hebrew was tattooed with the characters out of order, rendering it meaningless. My feelings are, if you intend for a tattoo to bring new energy or influence into your life, it's worth checking to make sure the design is correct before the artist touches needle to skin.
Her latest bits of ink were a pink cross on her hip, and some lips on her wrist. I'm not sure at all what Britney hopes to achieve by tattooing, but it's not even coming off as following a broad social trend. The reports that she tried to get a third tattoo in between leaving Promises rehabilitation facility and returning to it again add an even stranger twist. Just what does she think tattooing does for her?
One interesting thing is that throughout the reports of her getting tattooed in the media are her repeated claims that it hurts terribly. Her last tattoo escapades even come with tattoo parlor descriptions of her "screaming" and "flipping out" from the pain of the tattooing. No one I've ever met in all my tattoo experiences has ever repeated the experience when they felt it was that painful. I also have to agree with the folks over at Vanishing Tattoo that the artist who tattooed her while she was clearly emotionally distraught and, in their own words, acting bizarrely needs to really rethink his personal tattoo ethics.