Saturday, October 15, 2016

New Ink

Like most women, I have some body issues.  How and when they show up are different.

For most of my life, until my late 40's I had ginormous breasts - the kind that have a letter size that make people go WHOA!  I had them made smaller (and blogged about it here).  I am grateful for that every single day.  My back feels so much better and I have learned to stand up straight - well straighter.  My shoulders are permanently rounded forward after all those years such that I am unable to press them back into a wall when I stand against it.  But I am still grateful.

Having grown up with such big breasts ingrained many behaviors.  And I have been trying to unlearn these.  I am still working on a full upright, chest-forward gait.  I no longer feel the need to carry books or papers to protect them from view.  I stopped looking at the floor when talking to men, so I wouldn't have to see them have an entire conversation with my chest.  They felt no shame in doing this.  On the contrary, I felt shame.  And that's fucked up!

The one that still plagues me is going without a bra publicly.

So, when I wanted to get a tattoo on my back in a place my bra would cover, I knew I would have to just bite the bullet and wear a cami/tank without one.  I knew I would have to sit in full view of people, including men with lots of skin exposed.  I have put this particular tattoo off for years for just this reason.  I was lucky enough to find a shop where the tattooing doesn't happen in a fishbowl where anyone walking by can stop and watch.  I was lucky enough to find a tattooer who is amazing, kind, and a big bad teddy bear kind of guy who puts me at ease and makes me laugh.

There's a little part of me that will, when threatened, jut out its chin and throw the middle finger to the world and forge ahead.  That part shows up when I need it most.  Like yesterday.  I sat in my tiny cami with one strap off and the back pulled way down.  I sat in a room full of men.  I laughed with my tattooer.  And that middle-finger flippin part of me didn't even care when he stood up to get a better angle on the tattoo even though it meant he could see straight down onto my cleaveage.

Let him look.  You don't care.  It said.

And I didn't, not really.  I don't know if he looked.  He probably did.

I laughed as we swapped stories.  He's a good conversationalist.  Even though I sat with a lot of skin exposed, even though he is a big guy and he had his hands on me for hours, I never felt threatened.  I never felt ogled or treated differently.  My skin was his canvas and his focus was always there.  I felt respected and for that I am grateful.  I needed that more than I can say.  To know that I can be exposed and still be safe - that's a hell of a thing to learn in a tattoo shop in the northern burbs of Cincinnati

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