When math teacher Patricia Dias was a junior in college, she went on a vacation to Bali, Indonesia, where she had a sunflower tattooed on her foot. Later, when she was teaching at Country Day, she added a tribal design on her lower back.
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Q: What’s the symbolism behind your tattoos?
A: The sunflower represents my dad, who died when I was 8 years old. I have this memory of a really beautiful day when he was trying to convince me that sunflower seeds came from sunflowers. He picked me up and was trying to show me where the seeds came from. Since then, I’ve always associated sunflowers with good memories of my dad. There’s no symbolism behind (the tattoo) on my back.
Q: Why did you get the sunflower tattoo?
A: The (sunflower) tattoo was me just being a college student and wanting to do something that I thought was wild. I was living in Japan; Japanese people at the time did not get tattoos unless they were part of the yakuza (an organized crime group). It took me until junior year to get the guts to do it.
Q: What about the one on your back?
A: I have no idea why I got the one on my back. My friend who used to work here had a really cool tattoo on her back. She wanted one on her foot, and I wanted one on my back. (One day), we weren’t doing anything so we went to get tattoos in downtown Sacramento. She got a purple flower on her foot and I got this tribal design. I knew I wanted a tribal design, but I got the exact design from the artist.
Q: How did your family react?
A: My family was pretty accepting. My grandpa was in the Marines, so he had a tattoo above his forearm. He was excited for me. My mom was totally fine with the one on my foot. Since it symbolized a good memory of my dad, she didn’t mind. Her main concern was that they used a new needle. By the time I got the second one, I was 30 and she didn’t care.
Q: Any regrets?
A: I don’t regret the one on my foot. I’ve often thought about going in and getting it enhanced a little bit, maybe adding floral designs around it to make it look more like a sunflower. But it was very painful, so I haven’t done that. I have no emotional attachment to the one on my back at all. But I never see it, so I don’t regret it as much as I probably would if it were a dolphin on my stomach or something like that. I can hide it easily. But sometimes, like at a pool party, as a mom with two kids, it’s weird to have a “tramp stamp” on my back. There have been times when I wonder ‘Why did I feel the need to get a big tattoo on my back?’ I’m glad that I can hide both of (the tattoos) if I have to.