Oozing With Inked-esteem

Tattoos, sex, confidence, self-esteem…. Do all these attributes go hand in hand with each other?

Most girls/women know that feeling of looking in the mirror naked, and not liking what they see. For those who love what they see I am insanely jealous! And I envy their confidence!

But honestly it’s something that plagues us at least once in our lives and for the extra lucky ones a lot more then that!

Results have shown that for women specifically, self-esteem has risen as the amount of tattoos has risen. According to studies by the Social Science Journal on “tattoos, gender, and well-being among American college students.”  Although this is an American study those in Australia and other countries can also relate.

The scariest results are actually that along with self-esteem rising with the more tattoos one has, so did the rate in which suicide was also attempted.

Graph of people with tattoos who have had suicide attempts
Image: Tattoo And Suicide Comparative Percentages

Tattoos were always something I wanted, much to my families’ horror and still to this day they often voice their opinions on the art of body modification. The times truly have changed though and the meanings behind tattoos aren’t what they used to be, tattoos were often closely connected with crime, heavy drinking, drugs, bikies, and so on. Still to this day the tattoos are surrounded by this stigma but the individuals who have them have changed. Along with the varying of reasons behind why people get tattoos, there is the also the reason of self-esteem.

In the beginning “young me” wanted a pretty butterfly inked permanently onto my body, for no reason other then I had always loved tattoos and art. In 2008 I was assaulted and I also discovered that after assault it is common to feel numb and disconnected from your body. I did everything too feel myself again, to take back control of my body and after some rather strategically placed self-harm attempts, this just did not satisfy. There was no pain, and the scars that were left behind only made me feel more self-conscious, and embarrassed to show my body. It did take me many, many attempts to discover this, mainly in the hope to feel the pain and relief I think I was meant to feel.  It wasn’t till after a rather abusive ex-boyfriend and the initial assault that I started to explore tattooing as a form of self-expression. I needed to know that after suffering I could turn something like depression and pain into something physical and symbolic.

Tattooing Hurts

Well it hurts most of us, I seem to have a rather high pain tolerance so I don’t feel the pain benefits but regaining that trust and control in my body I do feel. My tattoo artist loves tattooing me and I guess who wouldn’t, when you make their job a breeze by not complaining or moving while a little tiny needle drives itself into your skin at a billion miles an hour. This however gives me no fear as to where the placements of my tattoos are, and those stereotypical “most painful” spots don’t scare me or alter my decisions as to where I want my artwork to go.

Many women see tattooing their bodies as reclaiming their territory, whether they felt they lost that due to traumatic events, illness or accidents. They are proud of surviving something traumatic and almost always horrendous and numbing. No wonder why their self-esteem has risen in the meantime! Tattoos give a platform in which to express themselves and their lives and the strength that they have.

Like most I started off small, my first tattoo was lettering on my wrist which reads

“let it be”

it is something that I knew I could always look at and remind myself that my past is in my past. I seemed to self evolve from there; I then had an empty love heart tattooed onto my chest, I had two feelings for this, part of me felt empty the other part of me felt the need to remind myself my heart was still there.

After my break up from my abusive ex-boyfriend I got a feather tattooed under my butt, this was not only to represent freedom but also out of spite because he would constantly inform me that he “owned me”- this amuses me still to this day.

My next was a quote on the side of my ribcage

“you never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have”

not too long after I got birds on my foot to represent my journey.

I then took a bit of a break and my next few tattoos not only grew in size considerably but also in meaning for me.

I never liked my back; I was always a swimmer and was very into sports, so therefore I had quite a muscular back. I didn’t find this feminine at all and always disliked my shoulders, in turn I got a naked angel on my back- kneeling down, head down and wings up. This to me symbolised beauty within suffering and as such my guardian angel, it did exactly as I wanted it to, it took away from a part of my body that I did not like.

From my previous attempts in self-harm I was left with some pretty impressive scares…. So for my own beauty and happiness I got a humming bird and orchids tattooed onto my left thigh to cover those scars. I once read on a card about the meaning of hummingbirds and the definition sat perfectly for me

“Legend says that hummingbirds float free of time, caring our hopes for love, joy and celebration. The hummingbird’s delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and laughter is life’s sweetest creation.”

Hummingbird Tattoo With Orchid
Image: Hummingbird Tattoo

About a year later I decided on another scar graveyard on my body and chose to tattoo my sternum with an owl, wingspread in flight. This was to symbolise Athena the Greek goodness of wisdom and war- Athena was a very important goodness and was Zeus’ daughter. She was the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice, strategic warfare, mathematics, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts and skill.  Her most well-known skill set was her strategies in warfare, and was often portrayed as a companion of hero’s and is the patron goddess of heroic venture. The owl was her bird and thus symbolised all her attributes, which is why I chose to tattoo her onto me.

Owl Tattoo On Woman
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My latest tattoo, which is in the process of being finished, is a lion wearing a crown surrounded by roses on my right thigh with the words “stay strong” above.  This is a sizable piece, which takes up a decent amount of “real estate” on my leg. I kept on with the strength theme, but in a different variation, this was also to remind myself what I had forgotten over the past few years, that I am in fact strong and that I can do anything I put my mind too.

The confidence I have given myself with this tattoo has even surprised me! Body and weight changes over the years and you don’t always look the way you want to, but tattoos are to me like lingerie. Lingerie makes you feel sexy and confident. They both distract your eye from the parts of your body that you might not like and force you to focus on the artwork or piece of clothing.

With confidence comes self-awareness, although I do not overly like my body, I do love my tattoos and artwork I have on it. I don’t focus on my flaws as much anymore and I choose to look more closely at the body in which I chose to design. To me this was the step in the right direction, I’ve been through self-harm, in ways of cutting as well as starving my body through just not eating and also purging food I had just consumed. I put myself on diets where I only drank lemon water for seven days straight and ended up passing out countless times. I would cry every time I stepped into a change room, because the clothes didn’t fit and every single mirror showed every single flaw from every angle possible.

To say I hated myself was an understatement, even to the extreme of hating the way my skin looked. I would Google skin transplants- yes you read that correctly. I hated how my skin would go red, purple, blue, and the fact my skin would not tan; Thank god for fake tan!

I got myself so worked up over body image and the way in which I should look, that I forgot about what makes me different and alluring.

I now embrace the way in which I look, although not completely but enough to feel confident about myself most of the time. I love the way in which my body curves and the way my tattoos curve with it and flow, I love the mystery in which my tattoos give my body. Thus I call this inked-esteem because no matter what, my eyes distract my mind to focus on the beauty in which I have created on myself, and that beauty will never be lost.

Author: Morgan is a consultant from Oh Zone Adult Lifestyle CentresSave

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Although relatively young Morgan has lived a life filled with experiences that have made her grow as a person. She has completed and is a product and interior designer who is a strong believer in equality between sexes and speaks out against violence. Working in the adult industry has allowed her to grow as a person and come out of her emotional and sexual shell.

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