I am an art collector. On my eighteenth birthday I purchased my first piece and for the past fourteen and half years, I average three to four additional purchases a year. For me, art has been the greatest investment in my life so far because I have yet to discover other delights that bring me as much joy. I have a few favorite artists from which I have acquired pieces; but over the years, the majority of pieces I have bought have been created by one particular artist, for his art is truly a gift.
My body is a canvas and I choose to cover it with art. At the age of 32, the majority of my body is covered in artwork, each piece a reminder of something I learned, experienced or overcome. Each of the tattoo artists that I have had the privilege of working with have given me the permanent gift of his or her artwork for me to wear. In addition, each tattoo is a totally original piece that I have the privilege of being the only owner of.
In the past fourteen years of collecting tattoos, my body has undergone other physical changes as well. I am diagnosed with two anxiety disorders and as a result, my weight has greatly fluctuated in the past decade and a half. I have transitioned from being seriously underweight to the heaviest I have ever been, which is the current state of my body.
Admittedly today I am not one hundred percent comfortable in my body and loving myself, all of myself, is a daily journey.
One unique aspect of the human body as a canvas is that it is composed of three dimensional curves and angles that a tattoo can greatly highlight or compliment. The curve of a hip or the dip of the elbow pit can always provide an outlet for comical and creative expression. Since I have gained so much weight, the natural curves of my body have been greatly accentuated to the extent of possessing rolls, cellulite and stretch marks and because of this, there has been a part of my insecure and vain mind that has convinced myself that I should wait until I lose ‘the weight’ to purchase certain tattoos.
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Well it has been years and I have not lost ‘the weight’. Yes, there are other places on my body I can decorate, but this is not the point-the point here is that I am perpetrating body terrorism upon myself, convincing my self that my current body is not worthy of decorating. Furthermore, there is a chance that I may never lose ‘the weight’ as well as the fact that there is a chance that I may gain even more weight. I cannot see the future and even though I can control my weight gain or loss, my mental health diagnoses provide great challenge for me in these endeavors seeing as my anxiety is greatly tied to my eating habits.
Here’s what I’ve been learning to do:
1.Anytime a body terrorist thought comes into ones head, stop and say 3-5 positive things about the area or oneself to give love back to self.
2.Stand and look at oneself in the mirror for one minute, saying one positive thing about oneself and increase both time and how many positive statements are said each week.
About a month and a half ago, in planning the piece that will cover the back of my left thigh, an area of my body that currently holds the most weight, as I pulled up my pant leg to see the cellulite that covers that blank slate, and a thought occurred to me – tattoos and weight are not mutually exclusive, meaning that only thin bodies are worthy of decorating.
My body is glorious and size does not determine its worth. Tattoos are a very personal gift I purchase for myself and I will not enact body terrorism upon myself. I will continue to love and be proud of my body by bestowing upon it the beauty I choose to wear no matter the size I am.