17 March 2015
Appearances and Tattoos
My best friend got tatted up the week before our senior prom. It came as a total shock that I could not understand. Of all times, she just had to choose the highlight and culmination of our high school career. We used to joke that, “Our bodies are Ferrari’s, would you put a sticker on it?” Both coming from extremely conservative families, it took a long time for me to understand how Stephanie used her tattoos to tell her own story.
Growing up, Stephanie was the shy girl with a sketchbook. She would draw everything and anything. For a young adult, she has faced, unfortunately, far more heartbreaks then any young girl should. From sickness, to deaths, to the inevitable, “I don’t fit in,” she faced it all. But, despite all her adversaries, she continued to draw her emotions. And that week before prom, she wanted to leave high school with a bang—she decided to make her body the canvas of her story.
From that moment on, she changed. She embraced a new sense of confidence, no longer afraid about what everyone else thought. The snakes on her shoulders sink their venom to create her version of the Ying and Yang. Accompanying the image is a scroll wrapped around her left leg detailing strength, courage, and most importantly, a blank space or two, to fill in the blanks to her future.
In Juniper Ellis’ novel, Tattooing the World, it is written that the, “ tattoo is an analogue for language and transforms those who bear the signifier” (14). Stephanie found her voice through her sketchbook, and expressed it via her tattoos. The ink projected her voice and gave her a reason to speak up, to come out of her shell and overall be comfortable with and in her own body. She is the artist, the bearer and interpreter of her ink. Her drawings are brought to life through the ink that seeps into her skin, bleeding out her identity with extraordinary color and symbolism. Thus, tattooing as related to Stephanie, helped navigate her identity to be shown, physically, mentally and emotionally.