Body art has a deep ancient history with humans. Lots of cultures used body art as a way to convey messages and meanings of human experiences and expression. I have always had a love for body art, in the form of tattoos and piercings. I always believed that body art was a form of self expression and celebration of a story or meaning that one wants to create an artifact of.
The Stigma Associated with Body Art
Despite its popularity in today’s culture, body art is still stigmatized in modern day society. There’s a prejudice that people with tattoos are unprofessional, irresponsible, a drug abuser, someone who has trouble with the law, or might carry have socially undesirable characteristics. The stereotype is such bullshit and it’s definitely one I’ve encountered several times in my lifetime.
My experience with judgement
I experienced this judgement from everyone around me. My parents and my family members judged my tattoos. This I expected because I am first generation Filipino-American and our different upbringings already created a difference in a number of perspectives in how we choose to live life. What I didn’t anticipate and what was harder to comprehend was the judgement other women especially older mothers who came from different generations or cultures. Maybe I had this expectation that motherhood was already hard enough and somehow we could find some commonality in that struggle.
By the time I was 26 both of my arms were fully covered by 3/4s sleeve tattoos. I was about to take on a full time Director role at a start up company, I was a highly accomplished hairstylist, and was also about 3 years into running a business with my partner Jonathan. Despite all of those successes, the stereotype and judgement that was imposed on me because of my tattoos were still things I needed to dodge.
One of the stories I needed to constantly reinforce within myself was that I was an incredible mom, despite the judgements from other parents or people that I got because of my tattoos. I was different and being different was both my superpower and kryptonite. I wanted acceptance and belonging, but most importantly I just wanted to be seen for my characteristics and not judged by my outside appearance.