Tattoos are a lovely way to reclaim your body.
I read this quote a couple of days ago, and it really stuck with me. I’ve always loved tattoos, and the tattoo I got in July – my first – was a long time in coming. The idea that you can take your body, the thing you’re born with, and turn it into living, breathing art is something that really speaks to me. Immortalising your life on your flesh in a tale that’s bigger than stitches and broken bones and that one time you took a little bit of flesh off your thumb knuckle with a cheese slicer. (Yeah, I did that. It scarred. It makes me feel a bit silly that my most visible scar is from my glorious battle with a cheese slicer, but whatever.)
I’ve always been pretty ambivalent about my body. I never cursed my boobs or my thighs or even my period, just took the changes adolescence gave me with a shrug of acceptance. I like to keep my weight down, sure; I know I feel better if I run 10km a week or play some team sports, but I don’t always make time for that, and that’s okay too. I like good food and chocolate and using fancy products to keep my skin clean, and I’m not about to stress about any of those things. My body isn’t a temple; nor is it a trash can. It’s just my body, and its gets me through life just fine, and like everything else in my life I have dedicated phases and slack phases.
So I guess the reason the above quote stuck with me was because when I read it, it went more like this:
Tattoos are a lovely way to (re)claim your body.
I’ve always been ambivalent towards my body. I’ve never hated it; I’ve never worshiped it. But now there is a small patch of skin on the inside of my wrist that I genuinely adore. I can’t look at my little tattoo without smiling, feeling grounded, feeling the flow of my life coalesce into a gentle black swirl. Perhaps I’m being a little melodramatic, but I can’t bring myself to care. When I look at my tattoo, I see a mark just like any other – a series of choices that led me to that tattoo parlour in Brunswick, and that have influenced every choice I’ve made since.
Put simply, my tattoo is like my cheese slicer scar, only much sexier. It’s a mark on my body that shows where I’ve been; because it was intentional, it also shows where I’m going. I’ve never considered myself to have a particularly good relationship with my body – and I’ve never exercised much agency over my own life. Somehow, this little ampersand on my wrist is causing me to reconsider my approach to both of those things, with mixed and improving results.