Today’s beverage: post 5:30am run coffee with a side of bunny snuggles.
“Tatted up like a dang carnival barker”
This is one of my dad’s staple phrases. I honestly should get it carved into my tombstone someday. It’s a joke, so nobody yell at him.
By most people’s standards, I am not really “tatted up.” I have four tattoos, five if you count that one is a cover up. There’s nothing wrong with the original; it’s not like I got “butthole’s butthole” tattooed on my butthole. (FYI I know someone who does indeed have that tattoo). No, I was just indifferent to the tattoo that was there and decided to cover it with something prettier.
Now, I know that not everyone is a fan of tattoos.
“It’s gonna look weird when you get old.”
Yes, well so is the rest of me.
“No one will hire you!”
Gainfully employed, thank you very much. I will concede that this is an old sentiment, and that opinions on tattoos for people other than ax murders have changed.
“What about when you get pregnant?”
First of all, if, not when. Let’s normalize the concept that not everyone is able to, or wants to, get pregnant.
Second, if I get pregnant, that baby is likely going to make my skin all sorts of weird, regardless of whether or not I have a tattoo. I’ve seen pregnant people. Babies are jerks.
“What if your significant other doesn’t like it?!”
Ok, well first of all, FUCK THAT NOISE! Your partner doesn’t like your tattoos? Find a new partner. For transparency sake, I had three tattoos already when I met my boyfriend, and I did discuss it with him before I got the other two. I wasn’t getting permission, but I do like to know his thoughts on things. Spoiler: turns out he loves me no matter what awwwwww
Question: if you’re going to have someone carve an image into your skin with a needle, you’d want them to be trained and qualified, right? Me too. It’s the same reason I’d never seek out discount LASIK.
“Tatted up like a dang carnival barker.”
My dad likes to act scandalized by the tattoos in our family, like he has delicate sensibilities or something. I’m in the lead with 4-slash-5, my mom has one, and my middle brother has one. He jokes that I corrupted my mom. When I got my first tattoo, I was 18. I got a winged foot on my left thigh, ‘cause….running. Naturally, I was nervous, because, to be perfectly crass, I’m a pussy. So my mom went with me. She even paid for it because she’s the coolest lady ever. Move over, Lorelai Gilmore.
At this point in our lives, my mom was undergoing treatment for cancer, but she surprised me by admitting that she’d be down to get a little ink. (I winced typing that, but I’m trying to be cool). At the time, her getting a tattoo was a medical no-no, so I told her that I’d get one with her when she was in remission.
Here’s the thing about your first tattoo. The biggest side effect is wanting a second tattoo.
I got bit by the bug.
My mom went into remission. YAY!!
So off we went for tattoos. She got a cute little shamrock on her ankle, and I got an infinity symbol on my ribs.
DISCLAIMER: Unless it is something racist, sexist, or otherwise openly offensive, you can get whatever tattoo you want, and who da fuck cares. If you like it, that’s all that matters.
DISCLAIMER PART 2: if you want to get a white ink tattoo so that you can say you have a tattoo, but no one will ever see it, I have a suggestion. Just lie. Say you have one. It will save you a lot of money, and as stated above, tattoos hurt.
My infinity tattoo would definitely be considered “basic bitch” status, along with anchors and feathers and “Live. Laugh. Love.” But I liked it, and a friend drew it for me, which was a neat added touch. That being said, there should be a written exam prior to getting a second tattoo. Like a Buzzfeed quiz called “Are you sure? Or are you just impatient?”
Fast forward a few years, and I now have the winged foot on my thigh, the cuuuutest T-Rex on my ankle, a watercolor elephant on one side of my ribs, and I recently covered the infinity tattoo on the other side of my ribs with lilacs. It’s not that I dislike that tattoo, but I was indifferent towards it.
Am I done? Probably not. And here’s why.
**I’m not going too deep into the following topic but to do my due diligence: trigger warning: I will briefly be discussing the topic of disordered eating. I also want to remind you all that I like to mix humor in with serious things. I’m not making light of anyone else’s situation, just my own.
Ok, let’s do this shit!
Body dysmorphia: a mental health disorder in which you can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance.
I tend to describe it as living my life in a funhouse mirror. Most people, especially women, know what I mean when I say there are good mirrors and bad mirrors. I don’t know what some people are doing when they make these things, but you can go from supermodel to that blueberry girl from Willy Wonka real quick.
When I look at myself, regardless of the mirror, I do not see what you see. I do not like what I see. Specifically, in my mind, I am fat. This is in addition to a whole host of other “flaws” that I see that other people have told me don’t exist. Jokes on you, Brigid’s brain doesn’t give a flying fart what you think.
In the battle of emotion mind versus wise mind, my wise mind is definitely the kid who’d get picked last in kickball.
But Brigid, lots of people don’t like their bodies. Don’t be dramatic.
True. But there’s a line between seeing something you don’t like and seeing something that’s not there. When I look at myself, I tend to see proportions that are objectively, not possible.
To be perfectly clear, this is not meant to diminish anyone else’s opinions of their body. A friend of mine who does stand-up comedy has a really good bit about anxiety and it turning into a pissing contest. Everyone is trying to one-up everyone else’s anxiety.
If I have to be fucked up, I want to be the most fucked up. I am the Queen of stress, hear me roar, and nervously chew my fingernails.
I’m not trying to out-anxiety anyone. I may be competitive, but that would be like trying to see who could get the highest fever. No one really wins. I’m simply trying to create a clearer picture of the point I’m trying to get across.
Side note: I did once compete with a friend as to who could get the lowest blood pressure readings over 24 hours of wearing a pressure cuff. I lost. But I’m sure if you asked a medical professional, they’d say we both lost, which is why we didn’t ask.
Anyway, my body image issues, along with my other mental health struggles, have led to a lot of negative coping measures that wind their way in and out of my existence, such as purging and over-exercising. These aren’t constants in my life, but they have a tendency to pop back in an say hello despite the fact that I specifically told them that they aren’t in my COVID bubble. I accidentally wrote a whole post about this last month, which is safely tucked away in my drafts folder and will likely never see the light of day, except for being shared with my family and my therapist.
So what does this have to do with tattoos? Well, I’ll tell ya!
I don’t really like looking at myself in the mirror, but it’s kind of necessary. Otherwise I’d probably walk out the door looking like I wrapped myself in Velcro and threw myself into my closet. If it sticks, I wear it! Or I’d forget to put make-up on one side of my face. Though, honestly that might not be noticeable. I finally learned how to do eyeliner at the age of 27, and I usually do the bare minimum. Want me in your wedding? I don’t care how much the make-up artist costs, I’m paying. I know how to do literally nothing with my face.
Also, the fact that I don’t like looking in a mirror means that I spend my entire day looking at my reflection trying to pick apart the things I don’t like. I guess I’m just a glutton for punishment.
Still waiting on the tattoo thing? I’m getting there, I promise! Scout’s honor!
My tattoos give me something positive to focus on, on the days when I have trouble finding the positives I was born with. I love my tattoos. I love to look at them. So when I need to try on a bathing suit, or change outfits 700 times to find the right one, I use them to refocus myself. They are my healthy coping.
Some people think that tattoos need to have meaning. So when I tell people that I have a big watercolor elephant holding a balloon on my ribs, they will ask me if it’s for my rabbit, who’s named Elephant. It’s a fun coincidence, but honestly I just thought it was cute. The T-Rex on my ankle? I like dinosaurs, and it makes me smile. The winged foot obviously has to do with running, of course. And my most recent addition, a diamond with lilacs poking in an out is just plain cool.
I don’t need meaning. I need something that I want to look at.
That’s not to say I’m going to cover myself head to toe. Just because you like oil paintings doesn’t mean every square inch of your walls is covered in framed art. Not that there’s anything wrong with either of those if that’s what you want.
You do you, boo boo.
One of the things I actually like is that all of my tattoos are pretty easy to cover. It’s like I have secret body armor under my clothes…like deodorant! Except now that a global pandemic has kept me home bound, it’s shocking how frequently I forget to apply.
So while I have a few ideas for small things I’d like to add on here and there, I mostly focus my tattoos on the key parts of my body that I view as flawed. It’s why I don’t have a butt tattoo…because…flawless. *hair flip*
At the same time, although I can easily point out “flaws” on my face, such as those caterpillars some would call eyebrows that I inherited from my father, I also won’t be getting a face tattoo. You want a face tattoo? Get a face tattoo! But I just don’t think I’ll be able to rock it as well as Post Malone or Mike Tyson. I’m leaving that to the professionals. I have my limits.
And with that, the sun is now up, and Elephant has bitten me enough times that it’s clear my attention is to be shifted to her.
Ok, Brigid, connect it back to the theme…working on my mental health is part of navigating my quarter life crisis.
So until next time….I guess I need a closing catchphrase, but that’s a hurdle for another beer.