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Can Tattoos Encourage Self-Love and Acceptance?

Tattoos are one of the only permanent alterations you can make to your body that isn’t centred around societal beauty standards.

Although tattoos are becoming more mainstream, they still aren’t perceived as part of the beauty ideal — especially for women. Unlike other body-altering procedures; such as liposuction, face lifts and laser hair removal treatments, tattoos act as a form of self-expression, rather than self-repression. Instead, tattoos allow you to take ownership of your body by altering it in a way that feels authentic to you. Many people use tattoos as a form of self-love, empowerment and as a helping hand to feel confident in their skin — they can be used to highlight your body’s unique features, rather than change them. Tattoos allow you to showcase your personal interests, beliefs and values by proudly displaying them on your body.

We spoke to local life model, Kat, to discuss how getting tattooed aided in their journey of self-love and acceptance.

Kat got their first tattoo on their 18th birthday after wanting one for years; ‘(I first got tattooed) mostly because I could and to piss my parents off a bit too. My first tattoo was the butterfly from Paramore’s “Brand New Eyes” album; they were my favourite band growing up and the first gig I ever went to.’

Kat has considered themselves body positive for a long time: ‘the body positivity movement has been important to me in my self-acceptance journey. However, I now consider myself part of the fat acceptance movement; which challenges society’s fatphobia.’

As well as the body positive and fat acceptance movements, Kat believes that their tattoos have played a ‘massive’ role in positively impacting their self-image. ‘I’ve struggled with self harm throughout my life. Being able to cover my scars with beautiful art has given me a whole new image of myself; I no longer feel ashamed of people seeing my arms or getting them out; when I look at my arms now I just see pretty, vibrant colours. To me, it feels like reclaiming them as my past.’

‘I no longer worry about people staring at my scars, because all they can see are my amazing tattoos. I use tattoos as an outlet to express myself and who I am; seeing my skin covered in bright colours and beautiful imagery allows me to show my personality through my body – I love looking bright and colourful.’

Kat also believes that their tattoos played a role in helping them take ownership of their body: ‘(tattoos) allow me to somewhat design my body and what I want it to look like. They help me feel like me; tattoos highlight who you are as a person, they allow you to show parts of your personality on the outside too. My tattoos represent my identity; who I am, the things I love and what makes me happy.’

Kat views their tattoos as an outward expression of self-love: ‘My tattoos represent the love I have for my body, myself and who I am.’

To find out more, you can follow Kat on Instagram: @cowgrrrrrrl

Image credit: @photographybybettyb

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