Today, I look like me. After nearly 27 years of seeing my body through the distorted lens of a society that hates it, I finally feel like it belongs to me. I have searched for ways to mould it, shape it, change it into something I could love. It’s been so hard. I have cried in front of the mirror so many times. I have always felt powerless, “fat” (as if that is a bad thing), ugly and weak.
But today, I have done something that I was terrified to do for so long. I got a tattoo. Not something small and dainty. Not something hidden on my back or ribs. I went all in. In the past two years I have come out as myself in so many ways. I could never quite imagine who I would be as I grew older, but now I can. After years of being touched, judged and catcalled against my will, I have reclaimed my body.
My only real fear was what my mother would say. When I was young, she was so conservative and so traditional. I had heard the plea “Don’t get a tattoo” over and over. I wasn’t sure that she or my father would ever be truly fine with it. I sent my parents a long anxious email, during a time when I knew they wouldn’t have internet access so that I could delay the inevitable painful response.
Instead, I got a short, unquestionably affirming note from my beautiful mom. She told me it was ok. She was sorry she had caused me so much angst. I cried. She trusted me. With her support in hand, I am ready to live my life as an insubordinate woman. I think that part of my excitement stems from the way I’ve been able to ‘pass’ as a member of the restrained, conservative society that I come from. I have always hated that.
Now, when I walk into a room there is no question of who I am. What I stand for. The feminist struggle is my highest purpose. It is what defines me as a woman, what will define me as a mother and what I hope my friends and descendants talk about when I’m gone.