Body art

It’s no secret that I’m a companion with say, one or two tattoos.

People ask me often how many tattoos I have. Honestly, I stopped counting. They ask what they mean. And my answers to this question isn’t just complicated - it’s personal. There’s a reason I react somewhat dismissively when asked by strangers, and there’s a reason that seeing all of the tattoos on my body is something that indicates a level of intimacy these strangers have not earned the privilege of. It’s the same reason that lovers who really know me, know that both at once these tattoos mean so much, yet they also define so little of who I am.

Being a tattooed woman in society is an odd space to exist within. I’m not going to claim here for one second that I’m ‘oppressed’ by my body art choices - as this is it - they have been choices. Choices I’ve made fully knowing how I may be read by people who do not know me. The stigma however, does exist, and while in my little bubble of London creatives and fashionistas and my very millennial outlook on physical appearance, my tattoos are something that most of the time, go untouched. They’re just as inconspicuous as my earring choice that day. As my choice in jacket. People see a pretty girl. Sometimes they see a pretty flower on my skin and they tell me they love it. It’s sweet. It’s something I entirely forget exists, sometimes for days on end.

But there are times I’m reminded of just how much having tattoos alters peoples perception of you. I mean, there are just simply some physical preferences we all have that we aren’t attracted to. Can I fault someone in that? Absolutely not. You’re not an asshole for finding tattoos a turn off. If I’m really honest here… In my own tattoo snobbery, I find some styles of tattoos a real turn off. There, I said it.

Something I do often hear from clients is how surprised they are that… they just don’t really notice them on me. Before you meet someone new, they’re merely an idea in your mind. You see the pictures, you draw up these conclusions about how they speak, how they carry themselves, how they walk into a room. And my clients who had apprehensions tell me that they were worried the tattoos would be intimidating. That they can be perceived as lacking ‘class’. Some of them had simply never been with a woman who had tattoos - they had fears about this difference being a turn off in person, or simply something too different from their own lived experience. Something else I hear more than anything from them is “I’ve always wanted to get a tattoo but I’ve been to scared”.

To get a little more honest here, and this is something that those closest to me will already know, I never always had the self confidence I have now. Shocking, I know. Growing up was a challenge for me. I struggled with my self esteem, like so many young girls. I compared myself to the girls around me - half of which I wanted to be, the other half of which I wanted to be with, and I asked myself why I wasn’t as pretty as them. It seems silly now, when I consider this as a woman who today loves herself, deeply and truly. But part of how I got to loving myself so unconditionally was getting tattooed. The process of a tattoo is painful, but when it’s done, it represents something paradoxical. It’s technically not meant to be there. It’s an imperfection. But, should you have gone to a good artist, and got something true to what you love, it is also beautiful. I’ve not tired of this process - the facing of imperfections as a good thing, over and over again.

Somewhere along the line, I didn’t end up looking like all those girls I compared myself to - I looked like me. And what that looks like now, is something far more tangible than whatever beauty standard is currently trending on instagram. It looks like a woman who knows herself and has lived. I don’t fit into the ‘alt’ tropes physically - I don’t dress alternatively, I don’t have any piercings, I prefer my makeup toned down or none at all, I favour a blow-out over an undercut, a classic blonde over a beautiful pop of colour. And yet when I look at myself in the mirror, and when those closest to me look at me, I know we are both seeing the whole person that I am. Neither someone trying to fit in to any category that could be easily defined, nor rebelling against that either. I look at myself in the mirror today and I feel at home. And while it can be hard conveying this to the internet, I can’t pretend to be something I’m not. So, I suppose the purpose of this blog is to give you a little insight into what it’s like being me. Because women with tattoos only bite if you want us to. And even then, we might just favour a little tenderness instead.

Jessa JonesComment