Woman's tattoo takes on new meaning amid pandemic: 'It's hysterically terrible timing'

Korin Miller
·3 min read

Leah Holland just went viral on TikTok for talking about the "dumbest" tattoo she got just as the pandemic was starting — and she thinks it's hilarious.

"If people are laughing with me, that's what I want," Holland, 25, tells Yahoo Life.

Holland explains in the TikTok, which has now been viewed 2 million times and counting, how she got a tattoo that said, "courageously & radically refuse to wear a mask" just as COVID-19 was spreading in the U.S. Holland specifically got the tattoo on March 4 — two days before her home state of Kentucky had its first reported COVID-19 case, and more than a month before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first recommended the use of face masks.

Leah Holland took to TikTok to talk about the
Leah Holland took to TikTok to talk about the "dumb" tattoo she got just as the pandemic was starting. (Photo: Courtesy of Leah Holland)

But Holland's tattoo wasn't an anti-masking sentiment: It was referring to a quote her friend had said two years before she actually got inked. "My friend and I were having a conversation about things we admire about the other person," she says. "He said that I was 'courageous and radically refuse to wear a mask,' in the sense that I'm 100 percent myself and I don't pretend that I'm something I'm not."

Holland says she "loved" the quote and it stuck with her. "I felt that it was wonderfully poetic," she says

. After two years of thinking about it and saving up money, Holland finally got the tattoo on her inner arm. Soon after, COVID-19 hit close to home. "I had heard about the pandemic but I didn't think it would be as big of a thing as it turned out to be," she says.

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Holland says she initially liked her tattoo but, "as time started progressing and masks were required, I thought, 'Oh no.'"

Holland says she used to be "self-conscious" about her tattoo, especially when she would go to the grocery store. "I'd wear cardigans, even in the summer," she says. "I was pretty embarrassed, but I realized over time that the chances are small for somebody to actually hold still long enough to be able to read it." Eventually, Holland says, "I realized it wasn't worth me constantly being self-conscious about it."

While Holland's TikTok was inspired by the question, "What's the dumbest tattoo you've ever gotten?" she says she doesn't regret the tattoo. "I still love the quote for what it means and the hilarious story that happened," she says. "It's hysterically terrible timing."

Holland has also had a good laugh with her friend about the tattoo. "I don't think any of us fully anticipated this," she says. And, while she used to feel awkward about her tattoo, Holland now thinks it's just funny. "I'm laughing about it now," she says.

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