It seems like such an innocent comment, but that’s how it happens. One word or sentence or leer that lets you know the way your body looks is not OK and that the only truly meaningful goal from that point forward if you are a fat person is to try and make your body look a different way. Any other way. Except fatter, of course.
From that point on, I stopped wearing anything that showed my arms. No matter how hot it was outside. No matter how unpleasant it was. And this went on for a long, long time. I was placing my own comfort aside so that I could make other people comfortable enough to look at me.
I’d like to say I had a breakthrough epiphany that changed this harmful perception, but that would be a lie. It took something unexpected and maybe a little painful. It was ink.
I had always been attracted to tattoos and had gotten a few in strategically hidden areas. But then I decided to get one on my fat, stretch-marked arm. For the first few days after getting a tattoo, it’s pretty painful to have clothing rub against it. As a result, I wore a sleeveless shirt for the first time in a long time.
And again, I got comments about my body.
But this time, they were compliments. People stopped me multiple times that first day to get a closer look at my tattoo, to enjoy the colors and the style, to show me their tattoos or to tell me about what kind of tattoos they hoped to get. No one commented on the size or look of my arm or told me that my arm was fat or ugly. I went from feeling ashamed of my arm to feeling proud.
It was such a strange sensation, but one I wanted more of.
I decided that day to begin decorating myself, to place things I found beautiful on my body. Tattoos, jewelry, hair color, clothing, absolutely anything that made my heart happy to look at.
I knew then that I didn’t need others to find me attractive, and I certainly didn’t need others to tell me that my body was worthy. I just needed to be a person that adorned my body in the way she deserved with gorgeous colors, intricate art, lovely dresses and glittering accoutrements.
My fat arms (and thighs and back and hips) are covered in brightly colored designs that tell my story. I wear sweeping gowns and bejeweled hair flowers and lots of jewelry. Women stop me in the street and say “I wish I could pull that off,” and I tell them: “You don’t need to pull it off, you just need to put it on. If you pull it off later, that’s up to you.”
Do you have any tattoos? We would love-love-love to see them! Please share your ink with us!