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Please Don’t Get Eleven’s Tattoo From ‘Stranger Things’

You are not a number, and you shouldn’t want to be.

Millie Bobbie Brown looks shocked as Eleven in Stranger Things

This week in regrettable fandom news and TikTok trends, people are apparently getting numerical tattoos in the style of Eleven’s from Stranger Things. Even Stranger Things’ official Instagram account posted a picture of several wrists marked with a multitude of numbers. The problem? The tattoos that appear in Stranger Things were meant to be direct links to the dehumanization experienced by Jewish people during the Holocaust.

As @sapphicvoid puts it on twitter:

And the show knows this. Eleven is literally given a number rather than a name because she is just one subject of many at the Hawkins lab. Despite Dr. Brenner’s occasionally affable exterior, he did not care for Eleven or Kali or any of the other children beyond what their abilities could do. She was stripped of the name her mother gave her in the same way she was stripped of her hair and her freedom.

This isn’t even the only time Nazi connections have made their way into the show, either: Season 4’s Russian Prison scenes were filmed at a former Nazi prison in Lithuania, which has now been converted into a Stranger Things-themed AirBNB. Because that’s where we are as a society.

Of course, this isn’t the first time fandoms have regretted tattoos. Some Harry Potter fans got their tattoos removed in the wake of J. K. Rowling’s transphobia and some Game of Thrones fans say they never would have gotten their tattoos if they’d known how the show would end.

At the same time, getting a fandom tattoo can be empowering; our own Rachel Leishman has written about how she doesn’t just get tattoos of heroes that she loves, but of characters who meant different things to her in different stages of her life. They are a reminder to keep moving on, a source of strength for her. Other Game of Thrones fans state that the show’s ending doesn’t take away from the community they’ve made or the original symbolism of the tattoos, for them. For those fans, the tattoos have transcended the piece of fiction in meaning for them.

The difference is that many of these tattoos are specific to the fandom, whereas the Stranger Things tattoos intentionally call back to the dehumanization of Jewish people during the Holocaust. There’s been plenty of other Stranger Things tattoos that feature much cooler and more relevant iconography to the show. Season 4 character Eddie Munson has tattoos that perform a similar function of showing individuality and a general desire to rebel against those who would prefer to enforce conformity.

Joe Quinn as Eddie Munson in stranger things, showing off some tattoos.

At the end of the day, your body = your choice. But before you go and get a tattoo intentionally resembling something literally used to identify the dead at Auschwitz, think about what the tattoo will mean to you five, ten, eleven years from now.

Will it still have the same meaning?

Or will it be overshadowed by regret?

(featured image: Netflix)

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Kimberly Terasaki is a Creative Writing graduate, fanfiction author, and intersectional feminist. She liked Ahsoka Tano before it was cool, will fight you about Rey being a “Mary Sue,” and is a Kamala Khan stan. She appreciates all constructive criticism and genuine discussion.