This Is For Life: Girls About Tattoos And The Right To Their Bodies

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This Is For Life: Girls About Tattoos And The Right To Their Bodies
This Is For Life: Girls About Tattoos And The Right To Their Bodies

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Video: When This Woman Covers Her Tattoos the Reactions Are Very Different | Only Human 2023, January

Tattoo is, without exaggeration, an art form. And although a wide variety of people make permanent drawings on the skin, women who decide to get a tattoo often face pressure from loved ones and partners. In this case, the image becomes a reason to defend the right to one's own body. We asked five girls how this happens.


margarita virova

Daria Radova



For me, tattoos have always been a story about how to make your body your own. Natural data is a lottery, and drawings on the body allow you to make your comments, express your opinion about your own body, forever change it with new meanings. As a child, I went to art school and constantly drew something on myself. I grew up in a very traditional environment where everyone had plans for my body and it was like I was trying to regain control. For the same reason, at thirteen years old, I made myself eight holes in my ears. As I matured, I seemed to have more control over my body, I didn't have to fight with someone. But in fact, disapproval just moved to a new level: instead of "You need to get better" and "Cover your ass, you'll get cold" came passive-aggressive comments on the topic of my clothes, hair color, piercings, "too" bright makeup. Opening the closet in the morning, I had to think about a bunch of people and chose not what I wanted myself. Therefore, I decided to get a tattoo - such an ink armor, which is always with me and which does not need to be worn.

It was supposed to give me strength and remind me of my position - and so it happened. I realized that what I do with my body worries even those whom I do not know personally, and this should not be so. The tattoo gave me confidence that it is possible and necessary to defend my appearance and think only about my preferences. There was a funny moment: at first they filled me with only a dark outline and so I walked for a couple of weeks, and at the next session the tattoo was filled with color, after which a second wave of reactions began. I was surprised to realize that bright colors annoy people much more.

A year and a half passed, and I decided to move to England with my British boyfriend, who could not get used to life in Russia. I did not endow emigration with superfluous metaphysics, but I understood that this was a serious step - as well as the fact that I would live as if in reality a boyfriend, I had no local friends and I could feel insecure. Besides, Moscow is not my hometown either. So I came up with a sketch and decided to make myself a sleeve just above the elbow. The idea was this: he was supposed to remind me of my native land, southern Russia, where I grew up. In the drawing I had invented, the hand was covered with stylized scales with a fin, waves jumped out on the other side, a lotus decorated the place for the mantu, and there was a shell on the elbow. In the very center of the hand, on its inner side, is a starfish, in the center of which is a compass, and inside it is a heart. I put a personal meaning into the tattoo: there is no north, no south, or other coordinates on the compass. In its center is the heart - it should indicate the direction.

I had a tattoo on my back before meeting my boyfriend, and I thought that he seemed to have already passed through this special "filter" and there would be no problems. But when I told him about my idea, he did not even delve into it. The message was: "Do what you want, but not on your hand." The problem was the location that everyone would see. He spoke vaguely about some kind of aesthetics, declared that this "okay" looks on a woman's hand, and my sexual orientation will be confused. Now I understand that it was hypocritical rhetoric: you, of course, dispose of your body, but only in the specified places.When the arguments ended, the boyfriend decided to make himself the center of the situation: “Didn't you think that I would see her too? That I should like her? When we met, she was not there. " This was said by a man who had tattoos on both arms - from the shoulders to the wrist.

I ended up getting a tattoo, he resigned himself, but the residue remained - I had a feeling that now he didn't like me all the way. The fact that he did not even delve into the underlying meaning of the drawing, which I myself made, also raised questions. It was also my act of creativity, in which I felt vulnerable. Comments that there were no tattoos at the time of meeting made me feel like a thing. Further, our relationship developed unsuccessfully, and his control again and again became a problem - the tattoo scandal was the opening number in a large concert. When, two years later, I got out of a codependent relationship and collected myself in parts, every little thing that could be separated from the relationship was important - during this period I often thought that I had betrayed myself in this union, lost, and I had nothing left … When I did that tattoo, of course, I did not think of it as a saving talisman, but still then I defended myself - three years later, the tattoo was the only choice that I could hold on to.

Nika Wodwood

activist and author of the channel



I have few tattoos, and there is a big emotional decision behind each. I really like the song "Soft Animal" by The Hotelier and Mary Oliver's poem "Wild Geese", which is referenced in the song. When I realized that I wanted to fill in these words, I was very happy and immediately shared this with my ex-boyfriend. He was not thrilled. As far as I understood, it was unpleasant for him, because this is one of his favorite bands and it was he who told me about them. After that, for a year I was ashamed of my desire to get a tattoo and did not feel entitled to “appropriate” their work in this way, I was even ashamed of my love for the group. Thanks to psychotherapy, I realized that this is tough, and recently I got it.

Some may think that this is an exaggerated reaction to a little disapproval, but this does not exist in a vacuum. Because of sexism, women don't feel like their bodies are theirs. It's the same with music. When I come to punk concerts, there are usually men on the stage, mostly in front of the stage, and everything shouts straight out: "You are not welcome here, go listen to music for girls." You do not feel that it is yours, that it is for you. However, if you listen to Taylor Swift, they joke about that too. And often it is done by a loved one who makes up your "normal" playlist - one ex-boyfriend did such a thing. In such a context, it is very difficult to say to yourself: "I like it myself, and I have every right to this music." And I can also dispose of my body as I want.

Olga Borisova

activist, member of Pussy Riot


This is my first tattoo, I got it in Tel Aviv, right in my hotel room in a wild frenzy - for reasons of "well, we have not done a tattoo yet." The friend who filled it, first suggested choosing something from his drawings, but I thought that since such a case, I had to come up with it myself … and just redrawn the sketch that I saw on Instagram (in this part of the story, all tattoos begin to hate me. artists). The original drawing had a human head wrapped around a snake, and I ended up with a kind of primitivism - more like one of those children's drawings on the refrigerator. I can't draw at all, but in the process I decided to add a teardrop and a barbed wire wreath.

I loved the idea of ​​hitting something that I could draw myself. There was no great meaning in this, it was a gesture of breaking the taboo of the sanctity of one's own body and conjectures like "how will it look in old age?" and "what if you change your mind?" You can dig for a long time and start philosophizing about the symbolic printing of responsibility, punishment, rebellion, or simply overcoming fear, but exactly at that moment I just wanted to get a tattoo - why not?

Despite the fact that I am twenty-four years old, the worst thing was not to get a tattoo, but to tell my mother about it. She saw her on Instagram - I was ready for this, but still lied out of surprise. Mom called me, lying with friends with a terrible hangover, and began to ask questions.My friends still remember the excuse my brain gave out at that moment: “I got a tattoo at a charity event in support of children with cancer. Is the drawing strange? Well, this is a child's drawing. The tattoo is temporary! For half a year, maybe. " I am very ashamed of this lie, but at that moment it seemed to me the only way to somehow bring down the degree of maternal anger. By the way, I would love to get a tattoo with a picture for charity and I think this is a great idea for fundraising. Now my mother is more likely to get used to this "strange" pattern on my forearm, but it is still difficult for her to accept this until the end - she, like a person of the older generation, associates tattoos with imprisonment.

I think that there is no need to coordinate tattoos with anyone. My body is just my body, and it's up to me what to do with it. If a partner comes to me with an idea to stuff “BULK 2018” on my forehead, I’m unlikely to accept it, of course, but our ideas, ideas, tattoos, clothes are part of us. And if my loved one wants to fill something, then most likely I will like it. You can express an opinion, give advice, but if a person has already decided exactly, then you have no right to object. If a tattoo is disgusting to you, then it's good that you are now parting, it is really difficult to exist in different aesthetic and stylistic planes! And to thrust your desires far away for the sake of a partner is so-so, do not go on about the tyrants. Well, you will fill in some nonsense that you will no longer like in two months. But this is your mistake, be proud of it! Moreover, now everything can be reduced. I cannot imagine any image that I will treat the same way for forty years. So when I see people older than me with a lot of tattoos, I look at tattoos as a symbol of life's journey. Where there was a smile is now a scar. Where there was great love - a faded heart on the shoulder. Maybe someone doesn't like them, but they clearly say something about us.

Anna Kozhukhar

video producer


My first tattoo is a penguin in flowers. I had several serious injuries that left large scars, including on my head. I was not their author, so I wanted to do something on my body that I could consider mine. I really like penguins: they live in the most dangerous places and are not afraid of anything.

I drew a drawing on my thigh and didn’t tell anyone. I returned from a trip to Moscow with a ready-made bird. My brother and my husband began to criticize the tattoo - not even the decision itself, but the fact that I did not consult with anyone before getting it. For some reason, they thought they also had a right to know. I have a very progressive and pro-feminist husband. But the very idea of ​​tattoos on the body he did not like, he said that it was a "whim" and "an attempt to escape" from problems. And when I made mine, he said: "Your body and mine too, I have the right to know what is painted on it, and I can object if I don't like it." If it was still possible to argue with the first one, then I would not even discuss the second.

As a result, he understood everything himself and completely accepted the tattoos. Then we agreed on the rule: before you do, you show. He is very good at drawing and photographing, so his participation in the development of the sketches was helpful. I think, deep down, he still didn’t like my tattoos, simply because it’s not close to him. But I appreciated what he accepted and stopped criticizing. Now I have four large tattoos, and there is not a single person who does not start to like them over time. Including mom.

Nastya Martynova

tattoo master


I am sad to realize that there have been enough of such cases in my practice and among my colleagues. The most incredible stories have always been based on unhealthy possessiveness on the part of a male partner.Some are not allowed out of the house on the day of the session, others threaten to break up, others methodically bring the situation to a critical point, when the girl wants to break all the dishes in the house, and certainly not go to the session with the master. Once a married couple came to me for a long-awaited session (an absolutely wonderful girl and a rather ordinary guy). Both have the first tattoo. The guy insistently wanted to go first, which we did not deny him. He was very polite and was pleased with his tattoo. And then the tragicomedy began. The sweet boy reincarnated as a domestic tyrant who emotionally tore us both to pieces. The tattoo did not happen, the abuser still convinced the girl that none of the sketches suits her and, in general, there is simply no good place for a tattoo on her body.

This was the only time I wanted to hug my client and whisper in her ear, "On the count of three, run and never return to him." But doing good, as well as giving unsolicited advice, is a violation of personal boundaries, which is unacceptable to me. I empathized with her and tried to support her, as far as it was permissible for the person whom you see for the first and, apparently, the last time in your life. I cannot give universal advice on how to do this in such a situation - it happens intuitively. But you definitely need to take a break and give the person the opportunity to figure out their desires and relationships on their own. The tattoo itself, of course, cannot be the reason for the separation, but it may well become one of the triggers. In my practice, girls almost always return for their tattoos, but they are already strong, confident and free from abusive relationships. This is cool.

A tattoo is, first of all, a relationship with oneself, one's appearance, one's own body. Girls throughout their lives struggle with imposed standards of beauty and ideas about how they "should" look. We fight every day to get these stereotypes out of our lives. A tattoo is another step in this direction, which can remind in time that there can be no third party in your relationship with your own body and appearance. If a tattoo still becomes a cause of conflict with a partner - think about it, maybe something really goes wrong in your relationship.

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