tattoo you

I have–I was going to say a lot of tattoos, but that’s not true at all. I
have four tattoos. A distlefink on my calf, a foo dog and a peony makes a half
sleeve on my left forearm, an anchor and rose on my right forearm, and a pirate
flag on the back of my neck, most done by the same amazing artist. I waited until I turned thirty before I went and
got myself inked up, and I love them, every one of them. Even though they are
the things that make my mother say stuff like " you
have been and always will be beautiful whatever color your hair and how many
tattoos you might have." My mother is not so much a fan of my tattoos.

For me, though, they are art, done by artists (I
will not call my body a canvas, though, because that is just so twee). They each
of them have some meaning beyond "I like pretty things on my body,"
but mostly, it is because I like pretty things on my body–color and texture and
gorgeousness that I get to carry around forever and which, if I was honest with
myself, I used to think kind of distracted from my body. Not distracted, exactly–enhanced
the loveliness of my body, while detracting from the flaws, all of which, for
me, boiled down to "fat," as they always did.

I know it doesn’t quite work that way–be dazzled
by the flashing lights and pretty colors! Be amazed and bewildered and your
eyes are crossing and everything is shiny and now I am gone, and who was that
strangely svelte stranger? If it really worked, and I were really smart, I
would have totally tattooed a skinny body on top of my real body, and then I
never would have had to try and lose weight, or get surgery or exercise and
then I would start a cottage industry, tattooing peoples’ ideal asses onto
their real asses and there would be a revolution, which would be televised! And
we’d all be beautiful stars.

If it actually worked that way, I would have also
chosen different spots on my body to tattoo; or rather, I wouldn’t have been so
careful about my choices. I was fairly heavy when I got my first tattoo, and I
picked the back of my neck as the logical spot; my neck is not fat, and is not
likely to get fatter. And when I lost weight, the tattoo wouldn’t be affected
by shrinking skin or whatever it was that happens when you lose weight that can
ruin a tattoo. It was a brilliant plan.

I chose all my other tattoo spots for similar
reasons–my forearms and calf were never so fat, and I couldn’t imagine them
changing appreciably in size if I ever did lose weight, and then I stopped
getting tattoos. Not because I ran out of space (I had plenty of surface area),
but because I couldn’t have the tattoos I wanted done. My foo dog, I wanted to
turn into a full sleeve, from my shoulder down to my wrist, and I couldn’t. My
arm was too fat. It would look ugly. Was it going to get less ugly if didn’t do
anything at all?

You see, I was still waiting to lose weight. It is
like I spent the first twenty years of my life in a perpetual state of
anticipation, waiting for my life and everything in it to start, that moment
when I lost the weight and everything turned around for me. Of course, I knew the
magic wasn’t going to happen, and I was pretty sure I was going to be Of Size
until I was dead, so I went out and I bought good clothes and I went on dates
and kissed peoples and lived my life–but in the back of my head, I was always
waiting for the someday, whether or not I was actively working towards it, or
actively backpedaling away from it with a cake in my mouth. I was in perpetual stasis,
whether I believed it or not.

If I was really living my life, I would have said fuck it
and gone ahead and gotten my sleeve done and been happy, instead of spending
all this time waiting and waiting for something I wasn’t sure would ever come.
Despite being kind of dumb, I lucked out, and I’m losing the weight, the way I
always hoped I would. And now I have a different problem, which I considered
before I made the decision to get this surgery, but clearly, I didn’t consider
it carefully enough. Skin. The extra skin. The extra, sexy,
slide-down-your-bones skin that is starting to gracefully drape from my
armpits, from the tops of my thighs. I spend a lot of time rolling the skin of
my forearms around, wondering if that is normal, or if I’m getting all loosey
goosey there, too, and my tattoos are just going to slip right off my body and
dangle like Colorforms.

I could have tattooed my big, round, full, plump arms, and
it would have maybe been a lot of tattoo, but it wouldn’t have been scary,
weird, vaguely terrifying the way this is. I could have paid more attention
when I was doing my research, and really thought about what it meant to have
loose skin, and excess skin, instead of going yes yes, that’s totally a trade
off I’ll take, next!

I thought I had, and yet I have spent so much time thinking
about not just the marathon I’m going to run and the clothes I want to buy and
the places I will fit like the middle seats of airplanes and in small barrels
stowing away on pirate ships, but the beautiful tattoos I want to get, can’t
wait to get. Can’t get, unless I think about plastic surgery. But the idea of
plastic surgery, more and more, and making me cringe. Wasn’t the point to be
healthy? Yes. The point was also to be happy. Will I be happy with the excess
skin? I don’t know. I’m not there, yet. But every pound I lose seems to flip
over another puzzle piece and as I slot them into place, I am seeing my future
more clearly and completely, and it makes everything feel ever more murky, and
so uncertain. Will things ever be easy? Don’t answer that.

  5 comments for “tattoo you

  1. anon
    June 8, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    Sigh. Yes.

    My heaviest weight was 215, and although you may scoff and say, ha, that’s not that heavy, it was to me (and I remember how I felt, every last painful memory, with too damn much vivid detail, but that’s another comment for another day) and when I lost the weight and got down to my current size I never thought I would care all that much about something like loose skin.

    Well, to some degree genetics are involved, it’s not just about what you weighed then vs now, because I know people who were heavier than I was who lost weight and don’t have this sad chicken skin on their upper thighs that drapes like crepe on me, me! A 37 year old woman! Who shouldn’t have anything crepe-y about her skin! My mom, bless, her does tend toward crepe in certain areas. But, sheesh, she’s 64.

    And not just my thighs, but elsewhere too, on more parts of my body than I have time to type about–but if we ever sat over a glass of wine or beer or, better yet, a shot of vodka, I could amuse you greatly with the various positions I avoid putting my body into because of the unfortunate and downright startling effect they have on the sad crepe-y skin.

    I’m told that as I continue to exercise and stay toned and trim that it will tighten up, but it’s already been a while and I don’t really believe it all that much anymore. And I ain’t getting any younger, and the skin, oy vey, she is so unforgiving and unelastic as she ages.

    So, plastic surgery? Well, not for me. But that’s not a judgment for those who make the choice. I guess I’ve just started to believe that perfection will never be mine, for my body still does not look like I’d hoped it would when I lost all the weight–same shape now, really, just much smaller–and I am slowly learning to live with that.

    Now, all this to say that, hey, we’re all different, and maybe your skin issues are/will be much more significant and maybe you will make certain choices because of that, but either way promise me one thing: there IS some reconfiguring that goes on after weight loss vis a vis the skin. Meaning, there will be some degree of tightening that happens after the initial (particularly because it’s been rather quick) weight loss. In some people it’s more signifcant than others.

    So, weigh your options (haha, “weigh” you options–I crack myself up) and also be patient. Several months after you reach goal you may be a bit more pleased than you are right now, and that may help you with your decision.

    By the way, I have given thought to getting a tatoo on many occasions. I’m thinking upper back, like the shoulder blade area. I’m not really crepe-y there…

  2. June 8, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    I put my tattoos right in the middle of my back and on my ankle so that they wouldn’t be stretched out. And they haven’t. But the lowest back on might get to sag a little since it’s pretty much right over my butt.

    I have already planned my next tattoo…a bracelet, on my right wrist, something delicate looking and filigree patterned with maybe a flower or two, my gift to myself after either 100 lbs or 1 year. Because wrists don’t sag, ever. Right?

  3. June 8, 2007 at 8:08 pm

    “I guess I’ve just started to believe that perfection will never be mine”

    Not just you, Anon! All of us! That’s the cruel joke and mean lie that we expected to believe: just keep toning up and slimming down and streamlining your life and you just might reach perfection. But it’s an impossible goal. And man is it tiring trying.

    And thank heavens it is! Perfection is boring, perfection is inert. All the lovely parts of any of us are where we are unique (like beautiful snowflakes!) and okay with that — like having crepe-y skin. :)

  4. BettyBigHead
    June 11, 2007 at 2:16 pm

    If you are trying to decide about having the cosmetics done, yes you should. I did and it didn’t hurt one little bit. In fact, it was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. I was really very tired of the loose belly skin flapping on my upper thighs every time I ran. I was tired of the 4 inches of under arm skin smacking against my sides. Was it expensive? Yes and worth every penny. I’m 46 years old and look better than I did when I was a teenager. I’ve completed 2/3 of what I want done (tummy tuck and arm lift) and have to wait until that’s paid for to get the leg lift done and I will get it done. I consider going for the cosmetics finishing what I started.

  5. MM
    June 12, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    Do we get to see pictures of the tats?

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