When I was sixteen I decided to get my first tattoo, to permanently put beautiful art that reminded me of my grandfather on my right shoulder blade. I got told over and over again by relatives and friends that I didn’t know what I was doing, I was too young to make that permanent of a decision; I disagreed back then and I continue to disagree. I started to create my own skin, to let myself be a canvas of all the things I love and care about and to fill the insecurities I felt about myself. I did not feel ugly when I remembered I had a form of expression permanently on my body, so of course I had to get more and more and more.
Being raised into a family with two lesbian mothers, I was constantly bullied at school for the choices my parents made. I was told how ugly I was on the inside, and the outside. How my puberty forming body was also incorporated with the “so called” disgusting nature of being gay, which I never proclaimed but since my parents were, then the children pinned that back on me. I grew up feeling quite disgusting and continued to bring that into my adulthood, which wasn’t healthy for me; Picking at my own skin and wondering why I had so much of it, why couldn’t it just show others around me the person I am inside and not the choices my parents made or the amount of fat stuffed into me.
With each tattoo I started to find different moments to look back on and separate experiences that made me who I am. Each tattoo has a story on its own whether it’s the pain I felt having the needle burn my arm or the symbolic significance behind it.
I remember the anxiety that flowed into me the second I heard the needle rev up for the night, and I was nervous that the new pigmentation that was going to be put into my skin was right for me to do or not. I mean I was young and my mother wasn’t too thrilled about me doing it, so in my mind that meant I wasn’t following her wishes; I mean, I did it anyways (ha!) but it felt wrong of me at first. Shortly after I began to get tattoo after tattoo, and each time that I felt low of myself I would look down and see the beauty I’ve morphed into my skin. My right forearm has a beautiful flower that reminds me of the lowest point of my life and how I essentially blossomed from it, and on my left forearm sits my little gentleman of a cat named Marley who I miss immensely each/every day. I have in total six tattoos that have helped me battle not only the problems I faced back in grade school, but the traumas that I have continued to encounter. I remind myself that I am strong enough to walk past pain because these tattoos have showed that to me; instead of writing down a sticky note of a motivational quote, I just look down at the skin I created for myself and remember the bravery I hold.