What makes tattoos such an important social construct is that they go well beyond being just a fun body accessory for showing off. In many cases, they end up truly having a deep personal meaning for the person who wears the ink. ‘Deep personal meaning’ is not some trite cliche people use to justify their tattoos. Rather, if you ask people about their ink, they can tell some fascinating and touching stories about what inspired them to get the work done.
One of the most poignant modern examples of this is the tribute that actress, Zelda Williams, paid to her father, the legendary Robin Williams, through the medium of tattooing. In August 2014, Robin Williams’ legions of fans felt the shock and pain of losing such a great (and beloved) talent, whose iconic roles deeply touched so many people. Roles in films and tv shows like “Mork & Mindy”, “Mrs. Doubtfire”, “Dead Poets Society”, and “Good Will Hunting” (a role his that is a personal favorite of mine). As much as the fans felt their own pain, they felt tremendous empathy for Zelda’s devastating personal loss.
The unfortunate thing is that, despite all the touching tributes to her father and people expressing their condolences to her, there was still that ugly, ugly segment of internet society that posted awful, horrific comments to her on her social media accounts. Reflecting a poise and grace that may not be evident in other people, Zelda did not give in to that awful treatment. She rightfully took time away from her social media accounts to cope with her father’s passing and to begin the healing process.
A few months later, she returned with a heartbreaking and moving tribute to her father. On her right hand, just beneath her thumb, she got a tattoo of a hummingbird, which serves as a touching reminder of her father (to always put her hand out and shake with a smile). Lower on her right forearm, she added the date, “7-21-51”, which is the day Robin Williams was born. This stunning artwork was crafted by the incomparable Dr. Woo of the famous LA Shamrock Social Club tattoo studio.
On her left wrist, Zelda has what appears to be an interpretation of the female gender symbol. She has had this one for several years.
Since returning to social media, Zelda has used it as a forum to advocate for many worth social causes (animal rescue, marriage equality, etc.) She has also been showing that she is living life with zest, just like her father (as witnessed by some of her recent fun at the San Diego Comic-Con).
Zelda is an inspiring person whose grace in the face of tragedy, as well as awful behavior by others, can serve as an example to us all.
If you wish to follow Zelda on social media (and please be respectful if you do), you can find her here: