I’ve been acquiring spider jewelry and clothes for a few years now, and I wear them fairly regularly. I have gotten strange looks but few people ask me about them (unless it’s around October, when I wear them more often, more of them, and more brazenly, in which case no one looks at me even sideways). I even have stuffed spiders, although those are generally kept in my bedroom.
Ever since I got my tattoo, however, I get a lot of questions: “What does it mean?” and “Why a spider‽”. I guess having it permanently inscribed into my flesh is different from an assumed poor fashion sense.
So I’ve had to answer—to the best of my ability in a short amount of time—why a spider, what a black widow means to me, and why I don’t think it’s incompatible with my suit or business-casual skirt.
The long answer is easier: I’ve always had spider friends, spiders have always brought me comfort, knowing that I have the power of a spider helps me face difficult situations. But what is that power? Spiders are independent—indeed, they eat each other with little provocation. Spiders provide humans with a valuable service—eating pests—yet are considered pests themselves. Female spiders, not just black widows, are generally larger and more aggressive than their male counterparts. (They’re also really bad mothers: they just lay a hundred or so eggs and then scarper to leave them to fend for themselves.)
These are attributes that I’ve had since I was a child—even though some of them were suppressed by my environment until I forged out on my own. In Seattle, there were parachute spiders and, my father told me, to escape their brothers and sisters who would otherwise eat them, as soon as they hatched, they would cast threads to the wind and fly away.
I guess my tattoo means I’ve always been the one in my family who wouldn’t just wait around and have life happen to me.