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Sandra Dean – Registered Member

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Tattoos and me; nine reasons why having tattoos is good for me and my mental health, confidence, sense of belonging and much more

Having a recent tattoo by super talented Ben Harper of Vintage Inx, Basildon, we got chatting (I do love a chat while getting tattooed!) about the many benefits of having tattoos. It got me thinking, and I decided to share all the benefits relevant to me. It’s, surprisingly, a lot. I hadn’t realised. Although a tiny part of me would like to be rid of them for the odd situation, like if I ever got to go on another upmarket cruise and want to look more elegant, I am pretty much 100% very happy with them, I do not regret any of the 24 I have already, and I will have more! Here’s why…

  1. Confidence in body – like plastic surgery might be for someone else

When I look at myself in the mirror, I like what I see. At 45, my body isn’t doing too bad, but it’s the tattoos I see just as much. Some cover dimply bits, some take the eye off a little extra weight I carry on my upper arms. I feel I want to have parts of my body on show that I am not sure I would without the tattoos, like wearing a bikini in a public place or a strapless dress. For me, body confidence is important and having tattoos has definitely helped me with that even though it wasn’t the reason for having them.

  1. Part of a group/following – a sense of belonging

I had a small tattoo on my lower back and two tiny Japanese symbols on my wrists, for many years. I then got one of my cats faces tattooed on my inner wrist, which was much more on view. At first, I loved it. Then, when I went to certain upmarket shops, I would hide it. I regretted it in some ways. Then I got another, and another… Each time it was a shock to see a new tattoo that I loved, but at the same time felt weird about it. Two men close to me openly admitted they didn’t like them and that I had too many. Some people stared in the street when I had them on show in the summer. A few more down the line and it still happened at times, as they got bigger and covered more areas of my body. My plan not to have anymore was broken time and time again as I craved another one and another. I would see them all and regret them sometimes, but as my confidence grew, and my research into designs grew, I realised I wasn’t just different to most people around me, but that I was also part of a type of people who had multiple tattoos. If I go to tattoo conventions, I feel part of it all, and sometimes positively bare compared to others! 😊

Like a Christian goes to a church to practise their religion with like minded people, or a runner takes part in a marathon with thousands of others, I go to tattoo conventions and tattoo parlours, and I feel right at home.

  1. Confidence as a person and the sociable aspect

Permanently changing how I look, via having permanent tattoos, has had its ups and downs as I said above, but all in all, dealing with those has made me more confident, not just of my body, but inside myself. As much as people might stare at my tattoos, with an disapproving look, people also stop me to ask about them. I love that. I love answering questions about them; why I have the designs, how much it hurts, where I go to get them done etc. That increases my confidence. I also realise it’s great to be different, not for the attention, but to feel totally individual. And if people do discriminate, as tattoos do carry a stigma, it only serves to increase my resilience. Just as going through mental health issues and coming out the other side did.

  1. Acceptance

Having multiple tattoos has helped me to be more accepting of others and their differences; their beliefs, the way they choose to look and the things they choose to do (as long as they are not hurting any living creature).

  1. Tattooist/counsellor

Being a therapeutic counsellor myself, helping my clients to deal with all sorts of adversities, I am trained to notice any side issues or triggers that may occur which may make me feel negative. But tattooists are all too often telling me of how they are like counsellors, as their clients offload all sorts of personal stuff to them. Although I try not to, I have chatted about difficult subjects in my life to some tattooists, if I feel safe to do so. I love a good conversation and need to chat when being tattooed, so one subject leads to another, but it has also occurred vice-versa and I have been the listener.

  1. Proud of getting through pain

There’s nothing better than getting through multiple hours of pain than when it’s finished, and I have outdone my expectations of myself on just how much I can take. I don’t mind patting myself on the back for getting through it as it’s an intrusive and painful experience, even if I chose to do it.

  1. Deciding on ideas and any meaning tattoos might have, like a project – for self or thoughts of others’

I LOVE researching tattoos on Instagram or google. Many of mine have personal meaning in them. I get an idea and then check out what has been done before. Even more, I love deciding on who to choose to do each one. I have tattoos by eleven different tattooists, from Scotland, Yorkshire, Midlands, London and local to myself. I love different styles and chose to have individual mixed style tattoos rather than sleeves or major pieces in one style alone. I have black and grey and full colour, and I choose each one with plenty of thought and discussion with the tattooists. It’s a mini project, which I love. I don’t like waiting long for a tattoo, so I tend to go for cancellations or manage to get an appointment without much of wait but it’s the research beforehand that takes the time for me. I then get excited when it’s booked, totally nervous on the day, and fall in love with my new art as I watch it heal and look after it.

  1. Excitement of sharing

I love sharing my tattoo art on social media or my blog. I can then be a part of the gang who share their tattoos and ideas for others’ to see and maybe even inspire a few.

  1. Value for money; My art gallery is always with me

Although I have art on my walls at home, I have to be in the room with them to see them. My tattoos go everywhere with me! I can see them whenever I want to, or I can cover them if I want to. That is what I call value for money 😊

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