A slight caveat before I start today’s entry: I have no idea if anyone from my family reads this blog. If they do, they’ve never mentioned it. But I’m going to mention stuff on here that I haven’t told my family, so I run the risk of shocking & scandalizing them.
So in advance: Hello family member! If you’re reading this, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t talk to everyone else about it, as it contains information I’d rather tell the rest of my family in person. Thanks!
As you might know from reading my blog, I try to practise body positivity (with varying degrees of success). I’m also currently in the early stages of what I think is a mid-life crisis – turning 38 was hard for me, and 40 is looming in less than 18 months time. I’m sure life does begin at 40 – hell, I remember being utterly freaked out by 30 – and once I’m 40 I’ll wonder what I was so worried about.
I didn’t really start to get to know the body positivity concept until I was over 30, and one of the things I learned was that my body is my own, to do with what I want. Your 30s are definitely late to learn this, and sometimes I feel sad that I didn’t really twig before – that my body was my own thing, and my life is mine to do with as I please, were not principles taught to me in childhood. I won’t go into what was taught, but bodily autonomy wasn’t explictly a part of it.
So when I started learning all about self-love, acceptance and loving oneself, this aspect seemed quite radical. Sometimes I still find it hard to fathom – you kow when you change your hair, and someone says “But what will your boyfriend think??” That voice is stil pretty loud in my head. But I’m gradually squashing it down and learning that I can choose to do things with my body that I want.
Bearing this in mind, plus my mid-life crisis feelings… On Saturday I got my first tattoo.
If you’re a member of my family, I imagine you’re going to stop reading now. You’re going to miss the good stuff, though!
I’ve wanted a tattoo since I was probably 20-21 and I even had a design for one. But it never happened, although I did get a lot of piercings in my 20s. I think what’s prompted me to get one now is seeing so many awesome tattoos on awesome fat babes, many of whom I follow in Twitter and am inspired by every day. I also joined Instagram and discovered a treasure trove of tattoists’ accounts, showcasing not just completed tattoos but designs available.
I’ve had an idea of about a year that I wanted a tattoo of a pigeon, because I love pigeons. Why pigeons? Well they’re intelligent, resourceful, misunderstood survivors (they live pretty much everywhere on earth, often in terrible conditions). They also look beautiful. I’ve had a bit of a pigeon obsession for years, learning the names of all the different colours they come in, following the antics of pigeon celebrities like Camp etc.
One of the tattoo studios I was following on Instagram posted up a painting by an artist called Elmo Teale, of a carrier pigeon. I saw it and thought: that is exactly what I want. I had originally intended to get a totally custom piece, but this design was perfect (plus it’d be “my” design once it was tattooed, not re-used like regular flash). So I made an appointment, went to see the artist, and:
The placement is really important to me too. I like most of my body now (even my poochy, saggy tummy) but my upper legs have been the last things I’ve made peace with. Before the age of 35, I never wore shorts – I thought my legs were too hideous (I have a lot of cellulite, thread veins and large upper legs with fat knees). But in recent years I’ve been able to say fuck it, and have worn shorts in summer as much as I can. I even bought shortie dungarees a couple of months ago! This tattoo is another gift to my legs; sure, they may be large, but large legs equals a large tattoo!
Because of the placement I’m going to have to be careful with it when lifting (I haven’t been back to the gym since I got it done yet!). There’s a real possibility of fucking it up by scraping the bar against it, so from now on I won’t deadlift while wearing shorts. The only exception will be at competitions where I have to wear a singlet with short legs, but I will be as careful as I can. And there are always touchups if I do scrape it too much.
Overall I’m so happy I got it. It’s a little shocking to look down and see it, still – after 38 years with a naked thigh, seeing such a large thing on there is weird. But soon it’ll be a part of me, and I can’t wait to show it off in shorts once it’s healed fully.
Tattooing my body feels like a great way to honour it. The plus size people I see with tattoos look so beautiful. Drawing attention to your larger body with beautiful ink is a radical act (the larger canvas helps too!) I’m really proud to be (eek, it feels weird to say it!) a tattooed person