On Tattoos and Body Image

I’ve been a little Pinterest-happy because I had an idea for a tattoo on my forearm. As majority of my pieces are on my back or front torso, I (obvi) don’t get to look at them often and I wanted a piece I could actually see without a mirror. The other afternoon, I took a timed photo so I could see what my back pieces looked like together and posted it online on impulse. I would never have had the chutzpah to do that when I was younger.

I’m not petite by Asian girl standards and I felt this acutely growing up. Medical physical exams would send me down an anxiety spiral. I was self-conscious of my heavy cheeks, my big ass, my cellulite, my jiggly arms, my pudgy belly, and teenagers have a tendency to be cruel.

In 2010, I got my first tattoo. It was one of scariest decisions I’ve ever made, not because of the commitment, or the pain, but because of my deeply religious extended family. I managed to hide my first few tattoos for over a year, but when I stopped, it was a big deal for a very long time. My mother cried, aunts and uncles would make snide, passive-aggressive comments, but I really couldn’t regret anything less.

My first tattoo took about six hours to do. That was six hours of me in a bandeau bra, my shirt bunched up around my waist– the longest I’d been in any state of undress in front of other people. And that was when I genuinely stopped giving a fuck that my body wasn’t what I’d been conditioned to think it should be. I’d gone from, “Don’t look at me,” to, “LET ME RIP OFF MY SHIRT AND SHOW YOU THE AWESOME WORK MY TATTOO ARTIST DID.”

📸: Katrina Pallon

I now have five tattoos and I am so ridiculously proud of every single one that I forget to be self-conscious. While I’m sure we could list all the practical things the money could have gone to instead, it’s money well spent. I don’t see a body that isn’t perfect, I see a body that is a gallery of amazing art. Not to mention a body that has been able to collectively withstand twenty-something hours sitting in a tattoo artist’s chair, because fuck yeah, that’s why.

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Smash the Patriarchy II – To my younger self:

There was a post that was shared by several contacts on Facebook about how women should be modest in the way they dress because, and I quote, “Real men love their gift wrapped.” This made me so angry, I’m still seething three days after reading it.

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While this started as a rant to counter what was in that post (which you can read here if you are so inclined), I thought I’d expand it a little to general things I wish I knew when I was younger.

1. Your body is your body.

Treat it well not because it is an object to be preserved for your future partner but because it is yours. The only person who can tell you what to do with it is your doctor regarding your health.

2. Makeup is fun.

Don’t ever let anyone shame you into not wearing makeup if it’s something you love. Contrary to popular belief, girls don’t wear makeup for boys, they wear it for themselves.

3. Dress for yourself.

While I do believe in dressing appropriately for certain occasions, — say, formal for a gala show at the theatre, business casual for a job interview, etc. — don’t be afraid to wear what you want. Women have been hyper-sexualised by society and the media while simultaneously being shamed for their sexuality for ages. You’re going to drive yourself crazy trying to please everyone. And on that note…

4. …Don’t be afraid of your sexuality. 

We’ve all been kind of brainwashed from childhood that female sexuality in particular is a dirty, dirty thing. It’s not, embrace it. Own it.
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Masturbate, have sex, don’t masturbate, don’t have sex. It’s your choice. There’s nothing wrong with exploring your sexuality as long as you’re smart about it. There’s a saying in the BDSM community that applies to any relationship, sexual or otherwise: Safe, sane, consensual. Be safe, use protection. Be sure you’re in the right state of mind and emotionally ready once you do start having sex. And always, always, make sure you and your partner consent.

5. Rape comes in many forms.

This tumblr post may save lives:
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(Photo source)

If you are uncomfortable with anything your partner wants to do with you, please know that you always have the right to say no. Again, the keyword is consent. 

6. No to victim/slut-shaming.

If someone is catcalled, harassed, molested, raped, the blame is entirely on the attacker. What a person was were wearing or how drunk they were, does not give anyone else consent to have their way with them.

7. “Real women are…” NO. JUST NO.

If you identify as a woman, you are a woman. Whether you’re cis, trans, demi, genderfluid, etc. Don’t let anyone define what being a “real” woman is for you.

8. Never dumb yourself down.

Or lower your standards for anybody.

9. Feminist is not a dirty word.

In a nutshell, feminism is equal rights regardless particularly of your sex and/or gender. It’s celebrating everything that makes you a woman, it’s getting rid of toxic masculinity, it’s tearing down stereotypical gender roles so you’re free to do pursue whatever you want. Most people confuse misandry with feminism, educate yourself so you can educate others.

10. Other women are not your competition.

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(Photo source)

Competing with other women specifically, whether it’s in the workplace or within a friend group really needs to stop. We have enough trouble fighting the system, working extra hard to prove ourselves equally if not more competent.

Additionally:

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(Photo source)

I could go on, really, because I have a lot of feelings. But the gist of what I want to say is, you do you and don’t let outdated gender norms dictate how you want to live your life.

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Smash the Patriarchy I – Gym Edition

fightlikeagirlA little disclaimer: While my boxing trainer’s a little sexist, I don’t think there’s any malicious intent in what he says; He just doesn’t know any better. I try to do what I can, as un-preachingly as possible.

That being said, I felt incredibly proud of him earlier.

A year ago, he might’ve said, “No, you should do twenty reps because 10 reps are for girls.”

Instead he said, “No, you should do twenty reps because you’ve gotten stronger and if I made you do just ten, that’d mean you’re weak.”

He also hasn’t asked me to, “…stop hitting like a girl.” when he needs me to punch with more power in a really long time. And he’s stopped referring to more advanced drills as ‘boy’ drills and beginner/easier drills as ‘girl’ ones.

Small victories.

(Also, my unfit ass is getting stronger. Yaaaaas. (๑˃̵ᴗ˂̵)و✧)

On Valka (and Motherhood.)

(Mostly about motherhood.)

How to Train Your Dragon 2 was funny, smart, touching, and all sorts of amazing and magical and everything an animated movie for all ages should be. But this isn’t a review, this is about the newest HBIC in town and quite possibly my new hero, Valka. Spoilery stuff ahead. Continue reading “On Valka (and Motherhood.)”