Ky. Woman Gets a Poorly Timed Tattoo

It's supposed to be a self-affirmation, she says
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2021 7:08 PM CST
Pandemic Has Given Woman's Tattoo a New Meaning
Chad Elsasser tattoos the phrase "Illis quo amo deserviam," a Latin phrase which translates to "I'll be devoted to those who I love," onto a customer.   (Shannon Broderick/Laramie Boomerang via AP, File)

Leah Holland wants you to know that she is not an anti-masker—despite what her tattoo says. The 25-year-old from Georgetown, Ky., had the words “courageously & radically refuse to wear a mask” inked onto her left arm on March 4, 2020, Lex 18 reports, just two days before Kentucky reported its first COVID-19 case (see the tattoo here). The tattoo is a self-affirmation, she says, but in the light of the pandemic and controversial mask mandates, it has taken on a new meaning. “It basically looked like I'm, totally, you know, anti-mask or whatever, which is not the case,” she says. Holland says the impetus for the tattoo came a couple years ago, when she was talking to a friend.

“We were just talking about things we admire about each other and he said, 'You courageously and radically refuse to wear a mask,' like meaning that I'm undeniably myself. I thought that was a really poetic way of saying that,” she says. As the term “anti-masker” picked up steam throughout the spring and summer, Holland would wear long sleeves to cover the tattoo and avoid being lumped in with people who refuse to refuse to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports. More recently, though, she’s been able to have some fun with it. Last month she showed off the tattoo on TikTok for a dumbest tattoo challenge, per HuffPost. “I just kind of wanted people to laugh with me because I think it's funny now too,” she tells Lex 18. (Read more tattoos stories.)

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