My very first tattoo was a lie.
When you lie, you are reshaping the world in the image that burns bright in your head. And the version of yourself that you present is so much better than the Universe’s version. In the Universe’s version, you are not nearly as interesting as you wish you were, and so much more flawed.
When you lie to someone, when you tell someone exactly what they want to hear, you are making the world a better place for them. You are smoothing down a red carpet and ushering them forward into a brighter reality, a happier one in which you are the person they expect you to be. In which you are exactly as cool as they think you are, before they know any better. Before they catch you in a lie.
My body felt like a lie—I was thirty years old, and I was fat. I don’t remember what size I was, I don’t remember how many pounds, but it was somewhere between 200 and 300, which is what I can say about my body for the majority of my adult life—somewhere between 200 and 300 pounds.
But in my head, I wasn’t fat. In my head, I was lovely and bright and sprightly and confident and I could be a happy person. In my body I was trapped by gravity, earth-bound, sure that anyone who saw me believed in all the clichés about fat people—slovenly, lonely, bad-smelling, alone.
And one day, I couldn’t stand it any more. I told everyone I was celebrating being close to finished with graduate school—all I had to do was finish my thesis, write a book and it was done, and I was celebrating turning thirty years old. But really, getting my first tattoo was my attempt at making a deliberate, conscious, permanent change to my body. And more than that, it was an attempt to make my body beautiful. The white flag I waved at the world. If you are forced to look at me, at least now you have something beautiful to look at. Here’s a reason to think I am interesting, beautiful, amazing, lovable. Not a liar.