22 Women Share How Their Tattoos Changed Their Relationship With Their Body
"My tattoos have helped me reclaim my body as MY territory."
Recently, we asked the tattooed women of the BuzzFeed Community how getting tattooed has changed their relationship with their body. Here are their stories.
DISCLAIMER: Some of these submissions mention tough topics like self-harm, eating disorders, and abuse. Please read at your own personal discretion.
"After I had my kids, my body had changed pretty dramatically. I didn't recognize myself, and more importantly, I didn't like myself. Getting tattooed after becoming a mom means my body brings me joy again, regardless of size. I look in the mirror and I like what I see because I like my tattoos. I have plans to get a ton more and can't wait for my self-love to grow exponentially."
"Getting my first tattoo was a really liberating experience. It was a way of taking ownership of my own body and pushing past negative body image issues. It was a way of accepting that my body belongs to me, I'm the only one whose opinions on it matters, and that my body is worth spending money on to create art. It was also a way to work through the grief of losing two of my grandparents as it was a tattoo in memory of them."
"I've always been a lover of dresses, but absolutely hated my legs — the shape of them, the way they wobble — but having them tattooed not only makes me enjoy wearing the clothes I want, but every time I look at them, they make me smile! It's always good when they spark conversations with people. They've also brought out my imagination and I have so much amazing and beautiful art all over me now!"
"My ex-husband didn't want me wearing nail polish, dyeing my hair, getting another piercing, and he for sure didn't want me to get a tattoo. If I ever did any of the other things, he threatened he would leave me. I left him after being together for eight years, married for almost a year. About six months later, I got my first tattoo. It was a small token to confirm that we were, in fact, most certainly, never ever getting back together. To me, it's a symbol of having to go through some bad things in order to grow in life. I've learned to embrace the process. That was about four years ago, and I've never been happier since I left him."
"I told myself that I would get my first tattoo both after college and after losing some weight, the first at the request of my parents. After a considerably large argument with my parents and reflection of that that led to me recognizing that I’m my own person and I can do whatever I please to my body, I decided I would finally get my rose. The placement of it also allowed me to see the weight I wish to lose in an uncomfortable setting, but now, it empowers me to understand that my body is just as good now as it would be if I lost the 25 pounds. My favorite flower did so much more for me than just add decoration to my body: it allowed me to recognize my own potential and gave me back my bodily autonomy."
"I have always felt disconnected from my body — not body dysmorphia so much, but more like who I saw in the mirror and who I felt I was inside just didn't seem like the same person. When I started getting tattoos, I felt like I could finally make my outer self more ME — that I could claim my skin as my own instead of what was handed to me in the genetic lottery. It really helped me bridge the gap between inner and outer self, and to start treating my body like a friend instead of an enemy. I am tall, blonde, and blue-eyed, and I've been objectified by men since childhood. My tattoos have helped me reclaim my body as MY territory."
The National Alliance on Mental Illness is 1-888-950-6264 (NAMI) and provides information and referral services; GoodTherapy.org is an association of mental health professionals from more than 25 countries who support efforts to reduce harm in therapy.
The National Eating Disorders Association helpline is 1-800-931-2237; for 24/7 crisis support, text “NEDA” to 741741.
Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.