I know, I know. Not many people would put permanently changing your body at the top of their self-care to do list. But getting a tattoo can be an integral part of your self-care.
Self-care, after all, is not just bubble baths and a glass of wine.
So you might be wondering, how exactly are tattoos part of self-care?
Why a tattoo is part of self-care
Before we get any further let me just clarify one thing. Not all tattoos would count as self-care (in my books).
I really only view the tattoos gotten for a reason or meaning behind them as candidates for self-care.
For instance, someone who has lost a loved one and is using the tattoo to commemorate the lost person. Or a symbol that represents major events in the bearer’s life.
I’ve also seen some that acknowledge things like illnesses beaten, or scars turned into works of art.
The point is all of these things (and it’s not an exhaustive list) in some way shape or form ties back the bearers wellbeing mentally or emotionally.
I don’t think getting a random tattoo just anywhere because you ”feel like it” is self-care, that can easily turn into self-harm.
The Aspects of Getting a Tattoo that make it self-care
To start off you need to spend time focusing on what you want. A personalized tattoo often takes planning on the part of the bearer. For mine I took over a decade to plan & design exactly what I wanted. In the design process you spend time reflecting on yourself and wants and needs (even if you are unaware that you are doing so) which often leads to a better understanding of yourself.
It can help you face and deal with deep/intense emotions. I know many people who have gotten tattoos that commemorate friends or family members who have passed away. In the process of getting a tattoo, they were able to move from debilitating grief into a form of acceptance. (not saying this happens for everyone, just that it happened for them). Others who have experienced a happy uplifting event may choose to commemorate it as well & carry a reminder of it (wedding band tattoos anyone?)
It can help you transform visible scars into something you love to see. I’ve chatted briefly with a couple people who have a large collection of tattoos covering scars from either a disease or burn marks to surgery remnants. They all say the same thing, looking at the scar made me feel worse about the situation, looking at the tattoo makes me happy. This kind of emotional self care can often be over looked as it starts out fairly subtle but builds to an Overwhelmed and Exhausted Mind not to mention spirit.
Sometimes the negative impact of a scar can really bring a person down, either because they belive it makes them look bad and ends up being an attack on their self-esteem. Or because it is a continual reminder of a traumatic event or person and seeing it brings up all the painful emotions and thoughts from that time. By getting the tattoo covered with something the bearer finds appealing they are taking a step towards better self esteem, as well as acknowledging their own strength.
It can help give power over their lives back to someone who has been marginalized or abused. I personally got my tattoo while still living with my ex, but every aspect of it is part of the choices and meaning that I made. No one else got a say. Which made it a bit of a ”declaration of independence” on my part. It can be very empowering to make a permanent change in your life, even if it’s small like putting ink under your skin. And this doesn’t even address some of the meanings that get placed into the tattoo, like with mine. 😉 It’s my personal Sign that says – ABUSE SURVIVOR, I made it out, so can you.
Tattoos remind you to take care of your body. The healing process while quick is one that still needs to be taken seriously. When I went I was advised to keep it covered and let it heal, as well as to apply a vitamin E to it to keep in moisture etc. A tattoo can also be a long-term reminder to apply things like sunscreen to protect it (unless you want fading). For me, this has resulted in more frequent applications of moisturizer which in turn led to drinking more water….
A Tattoo can help start conversations, which may in the future lead to new relationships. I’ve had my Tattoo for 8 years, and in that time I have had a number of people strike up a conversation with me because of it. There is something about art that draws others to us with curiosity.
The biggest part for me though is that it is a permanent reminder of my own strength and ability to choose my own path. While each person and their tattoos are unique and different, for many they are a symbol of personal power. And no mater what, no one can take away what that tattoo means to me. Next to giving Birth, it is the Most empowering change that has happened in direct connection to my body.
So if you are thinking about getting a tattoo, and feel it is part of who you are. I would, of course, encourage you to do the research you need to be comfortable with the decision (either for or against). Like I’ve said, it is an amazing experience for some, but not for everyone.