10 Ways Getting Tattoos Helped Me Love My Body

5. They allowed me to change parts of myself

In a world where we are given one body that we can’t choose, having autonomy to change parts of yourself that you don’t particularly love is freeing. Even though I do work on loving my body as it is, being able to mark myself with art that in places on my body that I don’t love makes me love my body that much more.

6. Tattoos have marked my life trajectory

I’ve made it a tradition to get a tattoo when I visit new places. This might eventually die out because I travel a lot, but it has allowed my body to become a map of memories. Every tattoo holds a special memory of a happy time in my life. They each tell a story about specific moments of my life and I get to wear that on myself every single day.

7. I take my body less seriously

I have a light bulb tattoo on my forearm that serves as a reminder that I am more than my body. It represents my intelligence, my ideas, and my creativity — all of the other things that I have to offer that have nothing to do with the size of my pants. I realized that my body is not all that I am and it doesn’t really matter how big or small it is. It is mine to shape, mold and mark.

8. I feel more myself

As I’ve continued to get tattoos through the years, I’ve felt more and more comfortable in my own skin. Having chosen to present myself with art that I feel represents the ~real me~, I’ve never felt more myself. The ink I have has allowed me to express myself fully.

9. My “flaws” turned into art

When I look at my body now, I still see flaws, but I don’t hate them. I don’t scrutinize myself the way that I used to. Rather than seeing stretch marks and cellulite in the mirror, I see little pieces of art. And more importantly, I see a whole person. I see the good and the bad without judging each part.

10. I’ve gotten a higher self-esteem

I can’t completely give credit to tattoos for my higher self-esteem, but I know they definitely helped. I feel hotter with my tats, honestly! Apparently, I’m not the only woman who feels this way. Women with multiple tattoos report higher self-esteem than anyone else, according to a 2015 study.

“I think women, especially, are more aware of their bodies through, among other things, fat shaming, the cosmetics and plastic surgery industry and hyper-sexualized imagery in media,”  Sociologist Jerome Koch of Texas Tech University said. “What we may be seeing is women translating that awareness into empowerment.”

My tattoos are part of me and my favorite accessory. I look and feel better than ever and it’s (mostly) thanks to some tats. It’s amazing how small changes on your body and in your mind can make loving yourself a little easier.