I didn’t consciously recognize this dynamic when I first started getting tattoos in my 40s (I’m now in my mid 50s) but that’s exactly what it was about. I’d never wanted any when I was younger, and then as I grew to better understand and identify with my true self and not the one that was suggested to me by the outside world, I suddenly wanted to start commemorating that in ways that I chose. It’s kind of an aphorism that tattoos are addictive, and I think this is perhaps the reason why. In a world that has always had so much to say about what my body should be like, this is my way to claim it for myself and to decorate it in ways that are meaningful and beautiful to me.

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Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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