by Nicole Serafin, Age 41, Tintenbar
By the time I was 30 I had 9 tattoo designs and a dozen piercings. I had always struggled with my body, a body that I never felt comfortable in; nor had I ever accepted the way that it was or the way that it felt.
Yes, I was a woman, but did I look or feel like a woman?
This I could not feel and so came the experimentation to create what I thought my body as a woman should be like. I constantly struggled with my looks, my weight – whether it be in excess or underweight – my personality; you name it, I was constantly in judgement of myself.
I began to colour & change my hairstyles, which was easy as I was working in a hairdressing salon from the age of 12 and had a mother who also supported me in doing this. Along with my hairstyles and colours I changed my style of dress, always experimenting… or so I thought I was experimenting.
However, now that I look back I realise that it was more a case of changing the way that I looked because I did not like what it was that I could see.
It was not me that I could see but a mere shadow of myself that I had created – and was continuing to create – in the hope that I would one day find one that I liked, or accepted. Of course, none of the looks or images that I created were going to fit because none of them were truly me.
After a few years of experimenting with hair & clothes I decided to take the plunge into the world of tattoo designs. My first tattoo was small in a place that was discreet, as they usually are. Then of course came the addiction. Soon after my first tattoo at the age of 17 came another tattoo idea, then another and another. Each tattoo design becoming a little larger and a little more obviously placed.
Even though I had fallen into the addiction of so called body art and piercing I still had the inner feeling that something was not quite right with it all, even though I was doing it. That little voice always said: ‘not too big, not too obvious’… thank goodness for that inner feeling, as things could have been a lot worse than what they truly were.
The tattoo designs allowed me to look at myself with what I thought was more acceptance, but the truth was I was not accepting myself at all. The tattoos were a distraction, a distraction from myself, as all I really saw when I looked into the mirror were the tattoos.
I had created a false sense of acceptance because I no longer had to look at me but the so called art that I had placed strategically over my body, so that no matter what angle I looked at myself I would see a tattoo first before I saw anything else. Quite cunning really when you think about it – I saw the tattoos before I saw my body, but never did I ever see me.
After several sessions I began to look in the mirror and for the first time in as long as I could ever remember I could see me, my body – the body I had lived in all this time.
I no longer looked in the mirror and saw my tattoos first: yes, the tattoo designs were still there but they were no longer the dominant part of me. The imprint that they had left in and on my body by somebody else was no longer there, they were now just something that was there but not something that took over and stood out above everything else.
The tattoo designs may never completely leave my skin, but now I can see my body for the beauty that it is.