In Defense of Face Tattoos
Why British model Becky Holt doesn't regret inking her forehead.
Tons of rappers have them now, but when I think of forehead tattoos, the first thing that comes to mind is the “Drake Girl.”
In 2011, an unnamed woman with shaved eyebrows went to a tattoo shop on Fairfax Blvd. in Los Angeles, CA. She told artist Kevin Campbell — then an artist at Will Rise Tattoo — that she wanted the name of her favorite singer written on her forehead. After asking her three times if she was sure she really wanted to do it, he obliged. (He later admitted he didn’t even know who Drake was at the time. “I figured it was her hood or some shit,” he told VICE.)
The final result was horrendous. Written in all-caps, it took up the entirety of her forehead, with each letter no less than 2-inches in height. She’d chosen Varsity, a rather imposing font with a menacing edge, and kept the art stark by not adding any color or designs. In fact, the tattoo was so simplistic it almost looked unfinished.
News of the tattoo spread and quickly went viral. VICE called it the “dumbest tattoo in the world,” and even Drake got in on the action, telling Los Angeles radio station Power 106, “I want to meet her and understand what happened.”
Becky Holt, a 30-year-old model and businesswoman from Cheshire, England, is well aware of this infamous Drake tattoo. “I did see that and I did think, ‘What an idiot,’ ” she told OK Whatever in a deep, British accent.
But that didn’t stop her from getting a forehead tattoo of her own in January. For £200, she got “We Could Be Heroes” written in gothic script along her hairline. Like the Drake Girl, Holt’s tat is also a reference to a musical icon — David Bowie and his 1977 hit “Heroes” — but other than that, she thinks they’re entirely different.
“She obviously loved Drake, and I obviously love Bowie. I just thought hers was a bit too intense,” Holt says. “I wouldn’t go and get David Bowie’s name tattooed on me — although I do have David Bowie’s face tattooed on me elsewhere.”
In fact, Holt has been inked in quite a few places other than her forehead. When she was 15, she got her first tattoo — an ex-boyfriend’s name — written across her vagina. “Obviously that’s gone now,” she says. “It’s been covered up.”
Since then, she’s worked doggedly at inking every inch of her skin so that she can someday have “full-body coverage.” Both her legs, arms, stomach, and back are already covered in tattoos, not to mention her chest, throat, one rib, one armpit, and both hands and feet. When asked how many she had overall, Holt was stumped. “I honestly couldn’t tell you how many I have. There’s too many to count.”
Her forehead tattoo is one of many new tattoos she’ll get done this year, but it holds a special significance for Holt, if only because she’s dreamed of getting one for so long.
“I wanted to have it done two years ago, but, unfortunately, I was held back by my partner at the time who was really not a fan of the whole getting-a-forehead-tattoo-thing, especially one that is so intense.”
When that relationship ended, Holt knew it was the perfect time to get the tattoo she'd always wanted. At the beginning of 2018, she went to Lowrider Tattoo in London where artist Kingsley Hayward managed to finish it in just two hours.
Surprisingly, it also didn’t hurt.
“I think that’s because your head is, like, built for force,” Holt said. "I literally didn't feel a thing."
Especially compared to the tattoo she got done in her armpit — which took four hours and “was the most disgusting, painful thing [she’s] ever experienced” — the forehead tattoo was a piece of cake.
Few fans can rival Holt’s degree of love for David Bowie. Though she never had a chance to see him live in concert before he died, she collects Bowie memorabilia, attended his memorial concerts, and feels as if she grew up with him. As kids, she and her sister watched Labyrinth constantly, and one of her legs is covered with tattoos from the movie.
To Holt, Bowie is both an “inspiration” and a “beautiful soul,” and she credits him for taking her out of dark places when she feels crappy. “Whenever I have really bad anxiety, the first thing I do is put David Bowie on and it just makes me feel better,” she said.
Holt decided to get the hook from Bowie’s 1977 hit “Heroes” tatted on her head because she “couldn’t think of a better quote than that.” The song itself is about two recovering alcoholics, and though Holt herself is neither an alcoholic nor a recovering one, she’s always felt inspired when listening to it.
“It means you can be anything you want in life despite having problems or addictions,” she explained. “And I feel like I’ve turned my life around and overcome battles just like in the song.”
Holt has been surprised by the response she’s received from her 188,000 Instagram followers, mainly because it’s been “really good.”
“I thought I’d get absolutely slated for it, but thankfully, I didn’t.”
In fact, many of her fans seem to love the new addition to her face, and shower her with comments like “Love it,” “It’s like a crown on your head,” and “Fucking unreal. You look amazing no matter what.”
Of course, there are haters out there, too. Some of the more harsh comments on Holt’s Instagram include ones like “When are you going to prison?” and “Are you on meth or crack?”
Though she’s always gotten stares — after all, she is a model, not to mention one that is 75-percent covered in tattoos — she said she’s gotten more now that she has her forehead done. Most of the time, it amuses her. She enjoys watching people’s facial expressions as they pass by her on the street — especially the women, who she said become wide-eyed and act shocked.
But it’s when riding the subway that she really gets to see how people feel about her forehead tattoo. One guy asked her where she was from because he thought the tattoo indicated she was from a Russian gang. Others have been less polite. Holt has been privy to more than a few whispered comments, such as, “It’s such a shame, because she’s got such a pretty face.”
When that sort of thing happens, Holt has no issue getting confrontational. She recently told a man on the subway who was talking about her with his wife and his kid that she could hear him. When he denied discussing her, she told him, “Yes, you were. You just sat there and gave me a backhanded compliment. At least have the decency to admit it.”
Not that she does that often. Holt knows she can’t control what people say about her new facial art, and she’s resigned to the fact that she’ll be hearing comments about it for the rest of her life.
“I have a massive tattoo plastered across my forehead,” she said. “People are going to say something about it. It’s not normal, and at the end of the day, people obviously prefer normal.”