I love tattoos. I can spend hours browsing through websites and magazines, poring over designs. That said, I’m not an expert. I generally adhere to the adage: ‘I may not know much about art, but I know what I like’. Which, when it comes to deciding to permanently mark your body, is about the best you can do. I don’t believe your tattoos need to be coated in fifteen layers of meaning to important to you. Art because you love it is an equally as valid reason to permanently etch your body.
When browsing tattoo art there are some images that keep cropping up again and again. These traditional designs are classic as they timeless pieces that generally resonate with a lot of people over generations. The anchor is one of these icons that has long history. It originally started as an identifying mark among sailors and has gradually entered the main-stream as a symbol of stability and steadfastness. In U.S Navy, there is a famous tradition that a person will only get the anchor tattoo if he has crossed/sailed the Atlantic Ocean safely. Religiously anchor tattoo is worn by a person who is faithful to Christianity (source).
I’ve recently noticed a glut of anchor tattoos hinged with the line ‘refuse to sink’. Every time I see one I internally cringe so hard I practically collapse in on myself like a dying star. I just don’t understand the message it is trying to send. As mentioned earlier I’m not of the school that believes that on the only tattoos worth doing are those that are deeply meaningful. The thing is though, the ‘refuse to sink‘ anchor tattoo is clearly communicating a meaning; it isn’t a hotdog wearing a wig smoking a blunt tattoo (that is to say, a tattoo whose meaning is either ambiguous or non-existent), it’s an anchor and some script, the meaning of which would be obvious to someone even with little knowledge of tattoo iconography.
The reason for my supernova-like cringe is that anchors are meant to sink, that is like literally their purpose, hence their use as a symbol for stability (and also their practical purpose of anchoring ships). It’s the addition of the line ‘refuse to sink’ that gets my hackles up. I just don’t understand what it is you’re trying to say (you’re in the pejorative sense, I need to direct my frustration at someone, even if only generally).
Is it that you are the anchor?
You are born an anchor, your whole life, upbringing and genetics are literally setting you up to sink, yet, through perseverance and tenacity you manage to fight your very nature that has made you and moulded you specifically to sink to the point you simply refuse and against all odds float. Is that what this tattoo is saying? That yes, you’re an anchor, you are meant to sink – it’s your raison d’être, if you will – and against all the odds of your nature, and hell, of physics, you float – because dammit you will not sink! In fact, you refuse.
Well that’s all fine and good, but you’re an anchor, don’t you want to sink? Don’t you want to live up to your full sinking potential that is born within the very depths of your being? Why would you want to be shitty at floating when you could be awesome at sinking? It’s your destiny, it’s fundamentally who you are, who you were born to be. You can’t just throw that all away because you want to float like a buoy. Buoys float, anchors sink – that’s life. You can’t just buck the trend and simply refuse. Refusing won’t stop you sinking; you’ll just go down fighting your own nature till you hit the sandy bottom.
A note from the author: I was going to include an example of the 'refuse to sink' anchor tattoo that I speak of in this post but I didn't want to directly target someone's tattoo or work. If you have no idea what I am talking about google it for yourself. That said, get the tattoos that make you happy, don't listen to some jerk on the internet.