From Self-Loathing to Healing – Fighting Body Dysmorphia With Tattoos
When Erin, an Allebach Photography client from Warminster, Pa., got her first tattoo at age 22 – a small and simple Irish rosary on her right shoulder blade – she had “no idea most of her upper body would be covered over the next 10 years.”
Since then, Erin has gotten more tattoos than she can count.
“It’s easier to say what body parts I have done – or don’t done. I’m bare from the waist down. I have sleeves on both of my arms, my right’s covered and my left black and gray. I have a rib piece on my left side, an underboob piece, a chest piece, the Serenity prayer in Gaelic on my right side and the words ‘Just Breathe’ across my stomach and I just started my back piece which is going to be my entire back.”
Erin says she began getting tattooed for two reasons; one because they’re gorgeous and two because she finds the process healing after dealing with years of body dysmorphia, a common condition that causes a person to think negative thoughts about their own body image.
“I can’t point my finger to a specific time or place, but somewhere over the years since high school, I feel like I’ve retreated further and further inside myself. I’ve thought that part of it may be having three serious relationships and all three of those men cheated on me. And as time went on I became less accepting of myself,” she said.
As time went on and Erin’s self-confidence and self-esteem were lost, she began to find it difficult to take compliments about her body, seeing them as insincere.
“I’ve always hated compliments. They’re hard to hear when you don’t believe them – they’re almost cruel when it’s impossible for you to see. It feels like people are lying sometimes. Compliment my tattoos though! I’ll agree with a smile and tell you all about them! I don’t mind showing those off!”
For Erin, it’s not about hiding her skin, but rather beautifying it with artwork and inspirational meaning.
“It’s all directional pieces, things that keep you moving, things that keep you in place and things that guide you home. A compass, a lighthouse, an anchor, an albatross, just to name a few,” says Erin of her left arm.
She continued, “My right arm I started after my last relationship. My ex-fiancécheated on me and I had to call off our wedding a month to the day before our wedding. That arm is ‘there is beauty in all new beginnings.’ So I wanted it to be BAM! in your face colorful and beautiful. The mermaid is the beauty and the rest is all symbols of new beginnings – a butterfly, daffodils, peacock feathers, a phoenix.”
It’s funny how painful tattoos are yet the amount of healing they possess, she muses.
Erin has had two boudoir sessions with Allebach Photography and for her, the sessions have been as empowering for her as her body art.
“For the self-proclaimed most insecure girl in the world, this experience was life-changing and empowering. Also, just the way Mike talks about the human body like it is art.”
While none of her tattoos were specifically highlighted, she felt like each photo Mike took was with them in mind.
“He’s so confident in what he does, but entirely humble, a true master of his craft. He’s excited and passionate about what he does and it makes you more excited to work with him and trust in him. People ask me how can someone with no confidence and who is so insecure take half-naked and naked photos – it’s the genius behind the camera!”
Erin is currently working on her back, which will feature a pirate skeleton and ship with Kraken tentacles. Following that, she hopes to get her legs finished. We can’t wait to see how they turn out!
Book your bodyscaping and boudoir session today at 610.539.6920 or http://www.allebachphotography.com/contact.