I have one tattoo on my back.
I started working on it in July of 2009, but it’s still unfinished almost two years later. As of right now, I’ve had five appointments, and I have at least two, maybe three, left to go before it’s complete. You see, it’s on my back, and it’s rather large, and complicated.
Image Courtesy: Mishelle Lane Photography
There are two stories I tell about why I chose this complicated piece, depending on my audience. Both are true.
For people who don’t have tattoos, or who don’t “get” tattoos, I feel like I am trying to justify myself, trying to make people understand, trying to dodge the possibility of being judged.
I tell them I’ve always loved the work of Maurice Sendak, and Where the Wild Things Are was my favorite book as a child. I read it to my brothers, to my cousins, to my nephews, to my sons. I know every word and every page by heart. I earned my Masters in Library and Information Science by way of a 30-page research paper on the work of Sendak, and the use of symbolism in his illustrations. I wanted to reclaim ownership of and take pride in my body.
To those who love tattoos, who have tattoos, who don’t really think it’s a big deal to get tattoos, I tell them the story of when I was
16-years-old, and I was taking a history class at my local junior college. A really cute boy had a Where the Wild Things Are half-sleeve tattoo.
I thought to myself, “Damn, those drawings make really good tattoos. Also this guy is ridiculously hot.”
Then later, “If I ever get a tattoo, it’s going to be that one scene from Where the Wild Things Are; the one where they’re swinging from the trees.”
I thought of it for years, telling people if they asked, and thinking about it, refining my opinion on it.
And then, in 2009, I went with my friend Julia to talk to her tattoo artist. We talked about doing it on my back, and then I had an appointment to get the outline done, and here we are today.
These two stories I tell, these two narratives about my body, they are both correct; they are both authentic.
In writing this post, I asked my fellow Curvy Girls for their tattoo stories, and as I read them, I figured something out.
People get tattoos for different reasons. They get them because they are nineteen and want to show their independence, to symbolize something that is deeply meaningful to them, because it just looks really freakin’ cool. Sometimes it’s all of the above, and sometimes it’s none of the above, and I don’t think it matters, as long as you are happy and comfortable with your choices.
I would love to hear your tattoo stories.
Jenny Grace has been back in school for a year, raising her son for five, and growing up for twenty nine. She’s not quite done yet. Raised amongst goats and chickens on a ranch in the California countryside, she was sent off to high school at a Hindu yoga center, and spent her youth working at her family’s nightclub and bar. No really, Jenny grew up completely normal. Well, normal for a kid raised by hippies that is. Shrugging off her patchouli steeped roots, Jenny went on to get a Bachelor’s of Arts in Linguistics and a Master’s in Library and Information Science. Now she’s working on her Master’s in Accountancy. Don’t let degrees fool you though; she wastes most of her time with wine and crosswords. Jenny is a cunning linguist, honest beyond reason, and incapable of keeping her mouth shut. You can read more from Jenny Grace on her blog, Miss Disgrace.