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"The Only Thing I Own Entirely"


I am sure it comes as no surprise that the ballet world has certain unspoken rules in terms of how or not your body should look. Hence, leading us to the subject of tattoos.


I never initially thought I would get any tattoos and I would be lying if I said one of my more pressing reasons against them for myself, was a fear of "failing to meet the ballerina standard."


Of course, there are many options for dancers with tattoos. More contemporary companies do not seem to chastise their dancers for their ink, but almost always they must be covered with makeup or costumes in more classical repertoire.


While in my mind- here comes the double standard again- I held no judgement towards dancers that had them, I wouldn't "allow" myself because I felt I had to work harder than everyone else at being "perfect." Makeup would have been a liable option, but yet I wouldn't even consider going that route personally.

 

When my uncle and beloved godfather suddenly passed I knew almost immediately that I wanted to memorialize him and his life. Bamboo was very special to him- from products in his home with my aunt to the bamboo they had growing around their property.


My mom and I got a matching "14" in a bamboo font almost a year after he passed-hers on her wrist (where she could see it) and mine on my ankle (to be easily hidden for performances).

hers on her wrist (where she could see it) and mine on my ankle (to be easily hidden for performances).

I actually brought a pointe shoe with me at the time of my appointment to ensure it wouldn't be visible outside the shoe.


No one explicitly shamed me for having gotten a tattoo- but almost immediately after re-entering the studios, I carried a silent guilt and shame within. In all honesty, I feel ridiculous even typing these sentences but at the time I was so fearful of not being that "perfect ballerina" I so desperately wanted to be.


I had several plans for tattoos that I was 100% sure I would want on my body. The only issue that arose was their potential placement. I toyed with the idea of a rib-cage tattoo that would be hidden by my leotard an majority of costumes I would need to perform in as a dancer. My arms were never even a consideration until everything began to piece together in my mind.

Minutes after the tattoo was completed.
A visible forearm tattoo would help me to reclaim ownership of my body and what I find meaningful to me

One of my friends from school (@damonic.ink on IG) has been working tirelessly towards becoming a tattoo artist. When I found out, I knew instantly, who I wanted to do the tattoo I had been planning over the course of my recovery.


I am so grateful to have a tattoo so important to me created by someone I love and respect so much.


The design was everything and more than what I had originally imagined, upon sharing my requests with my artist...

The words on this tattoo reference a song from one of my favorite artists, The Front Bottoms. In Ginger the lyrics* "this is my body, the only thing that I own entirely and it will carry me to greatness somehow" have resonated a lot with me throughout my experiences with anorexia as I strive towards recovery. **



Now, this tattoo is a symbol of all that I have endured to get to where I am today. I am using it to encourage me further into recovery and the life I would like to build for myself. When I want to turn back to the comfort of my eating disorder, I look down and see this permanent reminder, which leads me towards the direction influenced by recovery.


One day, this will symbolize victories rather than ongoing battles with my restriction and I cannot wait to reach that point in my life.



Key:
*  I made an artistic decision to adjust the lyrics to better suit their intended purpose in this design (eliminating the "that").
**I Vlogged the morning of my tattoo appointment if you would like to hear and see more

-LivingWithGrace



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