Why do so many girls have tattoos of swallows?

Pretty often, I see girls who are sporting a lot of ink.  I am obviously no stranger to the gun, but ironically haven’t gotten another tattoo since I was 17.  But in the right applications, I think some tattoos look good on the right girls.  Wandering around Midtown, or in the times when I go to Little Five Points, if I said that I should drink a beer every time I saw a girl with a swallow tattooed on her, I would probably get hammered on a fairly regular basis.

I legitimately am curious to why this is such a popular thing to get tattooed, ignoring the obvious immature statements involving the word swallows.  It’s a definite upgrade from the trend of gaudy tramp stamp tattoos, but it’s getting to the point of where it’s so common, it’s becoming anti-hip in my opinion.  The irony of me making such a statement is that one of these days, I’ll meet a girl that I’ll totally dig, and she’ll have a swallow(s) tattooed on her, and I’ll be forced to eat my words but that’s okay.

Since the internet is clearly never wrong, I’ve done some research to what the meaning of swallow tattoos are.  I have run across a few frequently cited references and tried my best to hypothesize which meaning seems to work best with why so many girls have swallow tattoos today.

  • The origins of the swallow tattoo all seem to point back to the days of sailors who associated the sight of the actual birds as a sign that land was near.  It got to a point where sailors began tattooing them onto themselves as a symbol of hope and sign of successful voyage.  Additionally, the swallow tattoo was a symbolic representation of how well-traveled a sailor was, and additional swallows were tattooed on based on how many nautical miles a sailor traveled.
    • Somehow, I do not believe that 99% of the girls that sport a swallow tattoo today has any legitimate nautical sailing experience beyond a day at the lake/river/been canoeing.  Unless metaphorical or an analogy of how many sexual partners a person has had, I don’t think the second sailing rationale of why swallow tattoos is valid either.
  • In some cultures, the first swallow of spring is seen as an omen of financial success.
    • Considering the only places I see chicks with swallow tattoos are typically hipster havens where people cry poor, I’m willing to bet that this isn’t the rationale either.
  • Tattoos that include two swallows is often a symbol of soul mates joined together.
    • Lots of these girls are often ring-less and likely single.  Most of them can’t decide what color off-season scarf to wear or which checkered Vans to put on, let alone pick out their soul mate that they’re supposed to be with for life because of the symbolism of their swallow tattoo.
  • Swallow tattoos are often symbolic for loyalty to family.
    • Possible.  But the general sentiment of hipsters down here are people pretty alienated from their families leads me to believe that this isn’t a very likely possibility.
  • Other meanings include a struggle that has been overcome, a victory gained, and a hardship survived.
    • lol, doubt it.  Unless their definition of struggles, hardships and victories are like completing high school, or successfully raising a Nintendog.
  • Swallow tattoos, as wells as bluebird and sparrow tattoos (jailbirds), are also a symbol of white supremacy for some people.
    • Interesting.  Considering every swallow tattoo I’ve ever seen has been on a white girl, I’m not ruling this out.
  • A tattoo of 2 swallows represents freedom. It is a popular tattoo design amongst people who are just released from prison.
    • I’ll easily rule out the possibility that most of these chicks with swallow tattoos have probably never seen the world behind bars with the exception of a drunk tank or temporary detainment cell for hippie protesting or anything, but the part about representing freedom easily sounds like the rhetorical bullshit one might claim as justification to get a swallow(s) tattoo.

So, my hypothesis is that girls get swallow tattoos because, or at least claim because, they represent freedom.  Out of these claims, there are still many that simply do it because they’re cool and trendy, but the irony of making the freedom claim is that by being yet another girl with a swallow tattoo, they’re kind of pigeon-holing themselves into a confinement of following the sheep, rather than proclaiming freedom.

I don’t hate or dislike the swallow tattoo in the least bit, but it does fascinate me just how common it is, and just how many girls I see sporting them.  In the right applications, they’re sexy and appealing, but at the same time, I personally have a tendency to question things that are overly trendy.

Now men with swallow tattoos; on any part of their body that isn’t their fists or centralized on the chest – that’s kind of gay, I’m just saying.  The hands are okay, because:

A swallow tattoo on the fists does symbolize that the person who wears it is a good fighter (in the UK). The tattoo is supposed to give you fast hands in a fight.

Anywhere else, and you’re clearly trying too hard to score with a girl with a corresponding swallow tattoo, and kind of pigeon-holing yourself into a shallow niche.

On a sort-of unrelated topic, while looking up tattoo intel, I ran across the popular tattoo known as the Nautical Star.  Again, it’s another popular tattoo that a lot of people wear these days with sailor-based origins.

But the thing is that I never knew they were known as nautical stars; I always called them Church’s Chicken Stars.  Obviously, I knew they had to have been called something else, but it was always so much fun to point at a person with a nautical star tattooed on them, and exclaim that they had the Church’s Chicken star tattooed on them.  It amused me greatly to do this, and it wasn’t just the random hipsters and wannabe rockers on the street, it was everyone who had them.  Church’s Chicken stars are about as trendy as swallows, and in lots of cases, I’ve seen girls that have had both tattooed on them, in fairly close proximity no less.  Former WWF diva Ashley Massaro has a Church’s Chicken star tattooed on her ribcage, and I had no choice but to point that out every time she showed up on screen, too.

Swallows and Church’s Chicken stars.  At least I can feel fairly confident that nobody else out there has my litany of lame anime tattoos.

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