Tattoos are common enough on men, yet on a female body in Cambodia, tattoos are still something of a taboo. Lift talks to Catherine Harry about what made her decide to buck this trend.
“A tattoo for me is not only something on the skin to show off to other people, but art that reflects who I am,” says Catherine, 19, a freshman majoring in communication and media arts at Pannasastra University of Cambodia.
Her customised tattoo of the word vegan, cloud, and a music note sits on her back right behind her left shoulder. She had the work done when she was 17 by a UK tattoo artist in Sihanoukville.
“The main idea is that I am a vegan, so my tattoo has the word vegan,” says Catherine. She goes on to explain that music helped shaped her choice to become a vegan, so she decided to put a music note around the word. The clouds in the tattoo, “represents the dark times that people have gone through”, she says.
The process of making her tattoo took only about 3 hours, but Catherine spent a long time searching for what she wanted. She says: “I planned it for about 4 months. I did a lot of research about the art of painting, and also the style I wanted.”
Catherine doesn’t care that some Cambodian people criticise a girl having tattoo, she thinks it’s art. She says: “It’s arts and it’s amazing for me to walk around with a piece of art.”
Catherine wants people to learn to judge new things, especially girls with tattoos, positively. “We are in 21st century. We should start accepting difference because difference can be good,” adding “tattoos is just art, why not just embrace it?”