The Tattooed Lady

If you have ever seen a photo of me, you have seen at least one of my tattoos. For me, tattoos are therapy. I enjoy the act of being tattooed, and I enjoy the finished product immensely. The sounds and smells have a cathartic affect on me. I live to plan pieces, and if I was asked to choose between a trip to Hawaii or tattoo time, I wouldn’t hesitate to go under the gun. Tattoos are a private decision to make your body public, and I have come to accept that some people will always consider me a freak show – regardless of how mainstream I think they’ve become. They are curiosities for strangers to marvel at, and as an extremely antisocial person, that has been hard to get used to. My tattooed self has become my alter-ego. Tattooed me is fearless, undaunted, and acts for no one. Tattooed me can be a stark contrast to mom-me, especially because mom-me tends to stay covered up so as to not stir up playground controversy.
My art gives cover to my insecurities, keeps me protected. I feel safe behind it, I enjoy knowing that people may avoid me because of the way I look. I desperately enjoy being avoided.
I am not a bad mother, and my children have never gone without so that I could pay for tattoo time. I am university educated, married, and a volunteer in my community. Tattooed me is not a deadbeat.
I am able to dress up and look classy, even though I prefer my worn jeans and Star Trek shirts. I am a better version of my original self thanks to the art that I have chosen to display permanently. I’m fucking awesome! I don’t need tattoos to prove it, but they definitely help.
Your opinion matters not, I love everything about the skin that I’m in – and no amount of shitty comments will change that.
“But Cheantelle, what do they all mean?!”
I hate that question, mostly because I hate speaking to people face to face. I’ll type it out though, and fingers crossed everyone that I ever meet for the rest of my life reads this so we don’t have to make small talk. I’ll summarise a few of them, it would take me days to write about them all!

I have four matching tattoos with my brother-in-law. One of them is the signature of the lead singer of our favourite band (Alex Turner, Arctic Monkeys), and two are goofy flash pieces that we picked out together. These pieces matter to me because he is more than an in-law, he’s my brother and my best friend, and the fact that he likes me enough to get tattooed with me is the best feeling. He is the only person I have matching art with. I have three Star Trek tattoos, because I live for Star Trek. (Surprise!) I have a Doctor Who piece, the 9th Doctor, Christoper Eccleston, with the quote “Just this once, everybody lives”. I’m a huge DW fan, and 9 is my favourite Doctor, so I feel like it’s an obvious choice. My back to my bum is a giant Harry Potter piece that my oldest daughter had a hand in designing, my right thigh is a drawing that my husband did with lyrics to a song that we bonded over (Down To The Well, Pixies), and my left thigh is a giant portrait of a naked pirate wench with an octopus hat.
My left bottom shin is a disheveled bear with a banner that says “drama bear” to commemorate that time I cheated death in 2012, and above that is a beautiful blue doe with my sister’s name. She’s my patronus (Harry Potter reference), so I thought the ethereal doe would be the perfect way to celebrate our relationship. I have poppies on the back and front of my left lower leg, along with the name of my granddad, my hero uncle, and the verse “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death”.

Getting bored yet? Another reason I don’t like having actual conversations about it, it takes forever. My thumbs are about to fall off. I have more tattoos than I can count, but I love all of them. Each one represents a timeframe, a mental state, my likes at the time…they represent memories, and I don’t regret a single one.
If tattoos aren’t for you, we can still be friends – I don’t judge people based on their willingness to modify their bodies. I’m not going to preach to anyone about the history behind them, or the significance that they hold for me, I’ll be nice to you if you’re nice to me. I’m never looking for a tattoo fight. My morals are unaffected.
The moral of the story? I love tattoos. I love how tattoos make me feel. I love the people that tattoo me. They are the most amazing, nonjudgmental people that I’ve ever known. They’ve seen me at my worst, and they still take care of me and treat me with care and respect. I love seeing them, and wish I could see more of them. Being in my preferred shop is one of the few places where I feel comfortable being myself. I hope that everyone finds something that makes them feel good about themselves. We all deserve to feel beautiful!
Tattoos make me beautiful, what does it for you?
IMG_4672.JPG Autograph from my hunky dream boyfriend, Alex Turner

IMG_4673.JPG Down to the well, drawn by my wonderful hubs

IMG_4674.JPG My saucy sea wench

IMG_4676.JPG my Drama Bear

IMG_4677.JPG Patronus

IMG_4678.JPG The Spocker!!!

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2 thoughts on “The Tattooed Lady

  1. I have to admit I had a lot of fun reading this as I lived vicariously through you and your history/philosophy regarding tattoos. I’m very relieved that you’ll still be friends with those w/o tattoos as I don’t sport any…yet!

    I live in a town where there are TONS of shops (good ones, too! We’re in a super-artistic, creative community) mainly in our business districts, but also in my neighborhood, and I often wonder how they survive because there are so many of them. Reading your post sheds some light on why that is that these magical places not just survive but thrive. They are places where people find inspiration, comfort, care – it sounds like good therapy to me!I’ve only gotten my nose and belly button pierced in a shop, no tattoo, but I liked the atmosphere of the place. The person who did it was very sweet and I had a good time. It didn’t even hurt at all!

    ***Thank you*** for sharing your gorgeous images and taking the time to explain the meanings of some of your art.

    This is going to sound weird, but you asked us what makes us feel beautiful? I love being soaked in my own sweat & feel very beautiful! Now, not 24/7 worth of sweat, mind you, but after I spend 60 minutes using my elliptical I’m sweating like mad. And I just feel really good at that point, proud of my strength, and beautiful – seeing the droplets of sweat are a visual form of proof that my body has worked hard. My littlest girl tells me every now and then that I’m beautiful and it’s not to get ice cream – she really means it. That makes me feel beautiful too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. YAY DYANE!!! Thank-you for responding to this! There is absolutely a beauty in feeling powerful, and power from feeling beautiful. I too love to feel the burn when I exercise, and I can’t wait to ease myself back into it. I live right beside the ocean, so I like to jog beside the beach until my legs are ready to fall off!
    Your little girl sounds wonderful – there is nothing more empowering than hearing the life you’ve created express their true love for you. We are very lucky!!
    As far as tattoos go, feel free to check out my Facebook album called ‘Negative Space’, it has a pretty complete collection of photos – although some of them aren’t up to date. If there ever comes a time when you decide to get a tattoo, I will be here to cheer you on! And if not, I’ll be cheering just the same 🙂 It’s a major life decision to alter your body permanently, and although it may seem to some like I don’t take it seriously, I absolutely do. They aren’t for everyone, but they are definitely for me!!

    Liked by 1 person

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