I’ve always struggled with body image issues, as most young girls unfortunately do. Growing up, I struggled to see anything but flaws on my body. Even parts I like about myself, I would scrutinize because they still weren’t perfect. As a curvy Hispanic girl, I didn’t really see anyone who looked like me on TV. All I wanted was to be skinny like the Olsen twins, but alas, I never would be.
Sometime in my freshman year of college, after spiraling into a deep depression, I realized that I would literally never look like anyone but myself. I began a journey to loving my body for what it is and having the autonomy to change parts of myself through tattoos helped me along that journey.
1. I reclaimed my body
I got my first tattoo when I was 19 after a musical festival. I had wanted to get one before I got the idea to wander into the tattoo shop at midnight, but if I’m being honest, I did this mostly on a whim. I got the number thirteen in roman numerals on the back of my right ankle. It was 2014 and the previous year had been an especially rough one. When I first got it, I loved looking at it. I loved wearing anything that showed my ankle because I felt like I owned this tiny piece of my body. I finally got to choose something about the way that I look, which made me want more.
2. I began to love specific body parts
Tattoos allowed me to mark my skin with the things that I loved and I began to see parts of myself I disliked as in a positive light. I have a human heart on my hip that my best friend and I got as semi-matching tattoos. I used to despise my hips. They kept me from wearing so many trendy clothes when I was younger because they were too wide. I chose my hip because I wanted to like to look at my hips and to see something beautiful when I did. I now see the beauty in my hips, even if they did prevent me from participating in the jean skirt phase of 2006.
3. Tattoos remind me of positivity
I got a tattoo after I graduated college that says “it’s all happening,” which is a quote from one of my favorite movies “Almost Famous.” I used to obsess over the movie in my teen years. It’s part of what inspired me to pursue journalism. It felt fitting that I’d mark (literally) the end of my college career with something from the movie that made me want to do it in the first place. It’s a positive reminder to keep going and that everything will happen in due time. Having the positive reminder etched on my body makes me love it a little more.
4. Their meaning has evolved with me
Although I did get some tattoos in dark periods of my life and they had a specific meaning when I got them, their meanings have continued to evolve over time. This has been a great reminder of how I have changed and how far I have come. I love being able to have something permanent to remind me of this.