This is one of those posts that I often wish I’d never actually sit down to write. I think about it often, especially each time I experience racism or blatant discrimination and stereotyping based on the way I look, talk, or dress. However, this is a really personal thing, and the point of it isn’t to get sympathy or try to get people to feel sorry for me. Mostly, this is to tell a story I’ve been wanting to tell… in hopes that someone will think twice before they judge based on arbitrary shit.
Without getting into the boring and intense details of my upbringing, let’s just say that it was a little emotionally abusive. For some it might even be classified as a lot emotionally abusive. My mother had a tendency to tell me how fat I was, on a fairly regular basis. My sister was the picture of what a daughter was supposed to be. Thin, tall, interested in make-up, and playing dress-up. I was the exact opposite. I was bulkier, played sports, got dirty, and was more interested in asking my dad how things worked than wearing make-up.
Growing up I was also always a bigger girl. My mother made a lot of really nasty remarks to me and had been since I was a young girl (bear with me this all will make sense eventually). I remember this one time we were at the Northridge Mall in the Los Angeles area. We were about to get into an elevator and she said “Oh look, two fatties just got on.” I did what I always did, and I kept my mouth shut. I remember over years all of the nasty and terrible things my mom used to say to me. She’d ask me why I didn’t look like my sister (who was skinny and more Asian-like). At a certain point I started sticking up for myself to her. Not surprising that she didn’t understand where the defiance came from, or why I was acting that way. One night she slapped me across the face to make a point. So I slapped her back. I was 18 years old.
In high school I was the “smart girl”. Few people today remember my name, but they remember that I always knew the answers. I was the best to be in a group project with, cause I would do all of the work and everyone would get A’s. But I was forgettable. Unmemorable. I was also severely depressed and suicidal. Not many people know this. I used to self-harm. I wrote suicide notes that were stashed in a cubby hole in my closet. I plotted when and how I would do it. As an adult I told my mother this, how she made me feel. How she made me hate myself to the point that I didn’t think I was worth living anymore. Wanna know what she said to me??
“It’s cause you’re weak and pathetic. It’s not my fault, it’s your own fault. I didn’t do anything.”
Yup. When I finally had the courage to tell her what she had done to me, she blamed me for my problems. When my mother stole my car and left me stranded at work, I never spoke to her again. I still don’t talk to her.
Now an Adult
Once I hit adulthood and moved out of her home, it was much easier to find who I was. I was floundering for awhile, because my identity seemed to rest in what my mother thought of me. My first tattoo was somewhere that no one could see, unless I took my pants off, so that it could be hidden from the world… especially my mother.
I’ve never considered myself to be a particularly beautiful person. Aesthetically, I mean. I’ve never been skinny. I’ve always had these gigantic boobs which made me look funny. I have short legs, and gigantic calves. I have fat arms and a round face. In those early years though, I was half the size I am now. But my mother made sure that I was controlled by my fear of not being good enough because I was never going to be skinny enough.
At some point, and I don’t even know when it was, but I stopped caring what my mother thought of me. I hadn’t talked to her in years. I stopped caring what strangers thought of me. I stopped caring about how fat I was. I started realizing that my size allowed me to have one of the best things ever… a bigger canvas for art I could wear!
Each of my tattoos tell a story, even the ones that got covered. I can remember where I was and why I got them. Most of all… I got them so that I could look in the mirror and see something beautiful… even if my mother made sure that I never believed it was me.
Bigotry and Stereotyping
I get stared at a lot. All the time. I can’t always tell why I’m being stared at but today at the gas station some tiny little 60-something woman gave me the dirtiest look when she climbed out of her way-to-big SUV. Her face read like a storybook I’ve read too many times. She didn’t like me because I had a lot of fuckin’ nerve being a woman, with tattoos, and showing them while I poured my injector cleaner into my tank before pumping gas. Her face quickly changed, in a split second, to “Please don’t stab me” as though my flowers were the sign of some notorious gang she had yet to hear about.
It’s a two-fold bigotry, or maybe four-fold. I’m a big. I’m a girl. I have visible tattoo and I wear tank tops (remember those big arms, yeah, fuck sleeves). And I don’t give a fuck. Only sometimes I give fucks! Sometimes I give two fucks! Because for every person who comes up to me and tells me how awesome my tattoos are, or how beautiful they are, there are 5 like her judging me from smug faces.
And you know what? I’m tired of it. I’m tired of having my feelings hurt by it. There were some jokes on twitter, and it helped lighten the mood, but the hurt is still there. It stacks on top of all the hurt I’ve felt for never being good enough for my mother. For all of those men who told me how beautiful I would be if I lost a few pounds. For all the jobs I didn’t get because of my tattoos, or my hair color, or for being a woman.
I’m just so fuckin’ tired of it. And I can hear it now… all those people who ask me “Why did you get tattoos on your arms and chest?” And I always have a story, some tried-and-true story, that seems to appease the prejudiced assholes. Really what I want to say is, Why does it fuckin’ matter where I got my tattoos? Should I have to explain the story of my mother, dredging up all those old memories, and all that hurt just to get people to back the fuck off?
My tattoos do not equate to the quality of my person.
I do a thankless job. I get shit on regularly. I get told some of the most atrocious stories. I let people pass judgment on me for being tattooed, an atheist, and foreign (since I’m so exotic people don’t bother to ask me what my heritage is they just assume I’m Mexican*). Not only do I give to the community, but I give back so that these children don’t have to deal with assholes like SmugSUV Bitch. So that they might have an opportunity to do something different. Learn something new. Participate in something awesome.
My job is so fulfilling there are no words. But fuck if I can’t handle the judgment and general assholery. Like fuck! What more do I have to do to get you to treat people with a little fuckin’ common decency? Should I do this shit for free??
My tattoos, despite their visible-ness, are for me. They are my beauty. They are for me to admire and look at daily. I’m tired of people judging me for something so arbitrary and stupid. And y’know what?? You should BE SO LUCKY as to see them in person!
/throws something across the room
* There is nothing wrong with being Mexican, but it’s frustrating and annoying to have culture thrust upon me because of my skin tone. I’d rather people ask. I’m not ashamed of my heritage.