I was a young Guider when, as many young adults of my generation have made the choice to do, I let someone have “craft time” on my body, drawing and colouring in a tattoo (or two).
And to be honest, while I could have worn uniform pieces that covered them up all the time, I choose not to. Guiding is an open space for truthful conversation with our young members (and believe me, the Brownies know what tattoos are and the Rangers are trying to figure out what they would get if they had the chance). My tattoos led to open dialogue about our bodies and about age restricted activities.
Still skeptical about tattoos in Guiding? What if the artwork was our beloved trefoil? I floated that question at a recent Guiding meeting and the response was pretty positive; most said that if they ever got a tattoo, it would be to show their passion and dedication to our organization with the Trefoil.
Neither of my current tattoos are “brand logos”, so I was interested in speaking with someone who already had a Trefoil inked on their body. Guider Heather is a 20 year member of Girl Guides of Canada, and has been a Spark, Brownie, and Ranger leader. This dedicated volunteer also has over 20 tattoos, including a Trefoil.
“Originally, I thought to get the trefoil permanently to commemorate the 100th
anniversary celebrations. After much consideration, I decided it would be a perfect choice for me, as I have been in Guiding for all but the first four years of my life,” says Heather. “Being a member of Girl Guides of Canada has shaped the person I am and being involved has opened up a world of opportunities for me. I am certain that I will always be involved and love GGC. Having the trefoil on my head though, was originally suggested by my husband as a joke, but I thought it seemed fitting, as I always have GGC on my mind!”
Like me, Guider Heather has been able to turn the conversation about her body artwork into an open dialogue with her Units.
“When it comes to the girls, the younger ones love the vibrant colors and cartoon-ish look of my tattoos, and the older girls enjoy being able to ask questions about all my ink. My Ranger Unit was able to help me choose a new tattoo, visit my artist, ask questions, watch me get tattooed, and see first-hand the proper procedures for tattooing.”
For Guider Heather, having tattoos and being in Guiding has been mostly positive.
“The only issue I did have was with parents of two of my Rangers. They seemed uncomfortable about my appearance,” she recalls. “Those girls were not able to go on an inter-provincial trip with the Unit, and I feel it was due to the parents’ inability to trust me as a Guider who looks like me. I am very grateful to all the parents that are able to get to know who I am and that I can develop great Guider-Parent relationships before they make judgments.”
So if you are recruiting a new leader and you see she has a tattoo, for the love of all things Trefoil, don’t turn her away! If the tattoo is not of a morbid or offensive nature, all Guiding members should be allowed to be themselves, leaders not excluded.
[Thank you Guider Heather Jennings-Brown, Fort Simpson, NWT for sharing your story with us!]
By Guest Blogger Sarah Lyon.
By guest vlogger & blogger Guider Sarah of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Check out her own blog ‘Sarah Smells the Roses‘, as well as her previous blog posts for Girl Guides of Canada:
- No one [except ourselves] Puts a Guider in the corner
- Girl Guides Membership Expiry? Never!
- From Frazzled to Dartmouth Shore Area Special Events Team Member
- Resolutions for the Happy, Healthy Guider
- Princess Industrial Complex
- Bustin’ a Century Year Old Girl Guide Myth
- There Were No Sexy Nurses at the First Halloween
- Review for GGC of the Coleman Camping Cookbook and Meal Planner App
- Why Every Brownie Should Have a Camp Blanket (Voted a GirlGuidesCANblog Big Deal Seal Winner!)
- I Camp Therefore I Have My Camp Blanket