I’ve heard it all before: Why did you do that to yourself? Why do you do that? You were so pretty. What will you tell your daughter? You were so beautiful. You’re going to regret them when you’re older.
And maybe I will. But I highly doubt it. Generally speaking, I am laid-back and carefree, especially in regards to societal standards of beauty. I am a secure woman, and I am a woman of few regrets.
In fact, over the course of my 33-year existence, I can count the number of regrets I’ve had on a single hand. But whether I regret my tattoos or not is a moot point. Really, it is. Because my tattoos are on my body. My piercings (and all of my other body modifications) are a part of my body, and right now, I love my body.
So, your opinion? Well, you can shove it and move on. STFU, please.
I know this approach seems harsh. But I won’t apologize. It has taken me too many years to like and embrace my body. It has taken me too many years to feel comfortable in — and with — my body, and it has taken me way too many years to love my body.
And I’m not going to throw it away now.
I’m not going to let your judgment and vitriol throw me into a downward spiral of self-loathing.
You see, growing up, I struggled with my appearance. I thought my thighs were too thick, my breasts were too small, my ass was too round, and my stomach? I thought it was a puffy, disgusting mess.
I thought I was a disgusting mess.
And so I bought oversized shirts and compression tights. I bought padded bras — and stuffed said bras — and I invested a small fortune in caffeine and diet pills to try to make the things I hated about myself disappear. But they didn’t work. Diet and exercise didn’t work. Nothing worked, or so I thought.
In reality, at 17 years old, I was struggling with body dysmorphia and EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified).
The good news is that, eventually, I got off the scale and into treatment. Eventually, I got professional help. But the damage done to my body and psyche ran deep.
I still poked at my thighs and tugged on my breasts. I still pulled the skin which hung over the top of my pants, which lingered in the space between my ribcage and hips. And I still counted calories, tracked pounds, and made a mental list of faults and flaws — a habit which continued for years.
In fact, I continued poking and prodding myself. I continued criticizing and judging myself — long after I was “better.” I did so for many years after I was “recovered.” But during this time, I found something which helped me.
The art of body modification, piercings, and tattoos.
You see, a strange thing happened when I began decorating my skin. A strange thing happened when I began exposing, showcasing, and celebrating my skin: Instead of seeing defects, blemishes, faults, and flaws, I saw promise. I saw potential, and I saw beauty.
In my new, modified body, I felt better. I felt stronger, and I felt more like myself.
Of course, my confidence didn’t boon right away, and I didn’t develop a positive body image overnight. But when I began healing — when my body, mind, and soul began healing — my tattoos took on new meaning. They took on a whole new life, and that story is mine. The beautiful flowers which now grow out of the 2-foot scar along my abdomen are mine.
I know tattoos aren’t for everyone, and they don’t have to be. You don’t have to like my body, my tattoos, or my appearance — and you don’t have to approve of it. But everyone should be considerate of each other’s choices. Everyone should be respectful of each other’s choices, and everyone should remember the age-old adage “If you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say shit.” That’s how it goes, right?
Regardless of your weight or your shape, regardless of your pants size or your cup size, you are beautiful. Inside and out, you are exactly who you are meant to be.
So fuck the ads, and fuck the fads. Fuck the strangers, the haters, and the nasty commenters, and screw that mean girl in your head (seriously, she is the worst). And instead take a moment, take a breath, and find what you like about yourself, what you love about yourself, and honor that. Celebrate that, and let love blossom from that.
Because you are beautiful, and you are worth it. And so am I.