From Self-Loathing to Healing – Fighting Body Dysmorphia With Tattoos

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.

 

Bonedaddys Tattoo Calendar for the Cure

As everyone gears up for the holidays, we take time to remember those we love.  Mike was honored to be this year’s photographer of 12 beautiful women for Bonedaddys Tattoo’s “Calendar for a Cure”.  All proceeds go to the Brave Eli Foundation (www.braveeli.com) which donates directly to finding a cure for childhood cancer.

For boudoir inquiries! http://allebach.studioinquiry.com/inquiryform/

CalendarfortheCure bonedaddy

At the calendar release party with cover girl Allyson who took photos in between chemo that week

CalendarfortheCure bonedaddy

4932 Pennell Road · Aston, Pennsylvania · 19014
Tattoo & Piercing

Tattoo Stories: Tanya

Lets just say, my life hasn’t been what you’d call easy. I’m not complaining, I’m not looking for sympathy, I’m simply stating fact. I do everything backwards, and i ONLY learn lessons the hard way. Its really just who I am.

So, after a tumultuous childhood and a string of shitty relationships with boys that needed a mother and not a girlfriend, i found myself pregnant by a guy I’d been “casually dating” for 4 months. I had just gotten a new job at a prison, (yup, I said prison) and I thought that my only option was to make it work, so for the duration of my pregnancy, and the first year of my sons life, that’s what I did. I tried, and tried, and tried… while he  stole from me, lied to me, bounced from job to job, and made it his daily goal to make me feel unattractive, worthless and sad.

And then, I broke. I couldn’t pretend anymore, his lies made me a liar. I needed to do better, to BE better for my baby!! I decided that it was over.

The first time that I met my husband I was 7 months pregnant. I asked my Lt who the hot new Sgt was, and she told me to keep my crazy pregnant hormones in check. I worked for another month, and then went out on a 6 month maternity leave. I had so much drama in my life, that i just kind of forgot about that really cool tattooed Sgt with the buddy holly glasses.

The first time that I really “saw” my husband, was after I’d returned from maternity leave. I was dropping off paperwork to our headquarters when Brad came to retrieve a schedule. We exchanged some small talk and then I noticed that his eyes were two different colors. The sunlight hit his face in such a fashion that my breath stuck in my throat. i looked down to compose myself, and noticed the swallows tattooed on the backs of his hands. I grabbed one, and started very excitedly asking him about them. I told him that I’d always wanted swallows,  but never really knew how i wanted to incorporate them into a tattoo… then I realized that I was standing in the middle of the hallway, at my place of work, holding and literally stroking this guys hand that I didn’t even know! I have this extreme talent of making awkward situations even more awkward, so of course that’s what I did, and abruptly left the situation.

For whatever reason, he was cool with this. A few days later he called me in my office, offered me his phone number, and we made arrangements to go out that week. we kissed at the end of our first date. I fell in love at that very moment, in the third parking spot, at the TGI Fridays in Mount Laurel, NJ. We moved in together after our third date.

Bradley is the inspiration behind my tattoo. Those red swallows swooped into my life so completely unexpectedly, and very literally took my broken heart and sewed it back together. I am more whole now then I have ever been, and I have my husband, our two children, a pair of swallows, and that awkward moment in the middle of a prison to thank for that.

Tattoo Stories: Lyssa

The three mast ship on my right thigh is there in honor of my dad. He died when I was fifteen, in a motorcycle accident on August 15, 2009. He was a biker who was covered in tattoos, so I knew immediately I wanted to get a tattoo in his memory. It seemed like the only thing to do. After he died, I was a confused, truth-starved, story-seeking, wisdom-hunting teenager for about a year and a half. Sixteen was not so sweet for me. Almost a full year after he passed away, my aunt, my cousin, my dad’s best friend, and I went to the beach and sailed out on a ship a few miles into the ocean where we sprinkled my dad’s ashes. In that moment, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. I looked down into the salty waters to see the ashes spiraling, down, down, down, becoming one with the earth and its waters. And I swore to myself that I saw his face one last time in those swirling ashes (if you’ve never seen this, its similar to how cream swirls into coffee). On the ride back to shore, my foot was burning and stinging pretty bad. I looked down to see a small cut on my foot, irritated by the salt water that was splashing onto it over and over as we sailed.

My dad loved the ocean and always had, he often went fishing with his father, and my best memories of my dad are on the beach or in the sun at least. I decided to get a ship and waves because the whole experience of losing my dad took me on a journey… a voyage. It taught me that each person has their own journey to experience, that no journey is better or more significant or superior than another, but most of all that every journey, every life, has a God-given purpose. My heavenly Father had sent me on a journey, and this was all part of it. I could not allow myself to be a ship wreck anymore, I had to pick up the pieces and sail on! Yes, my dad would always be with me, in the waters underneath me and in my past, but this could not prevent me from going places, loving people, and seizing the day. It had to be the power that pushed me on; not the thing that held me back. It had to be what kept my ship buoyant; not what I crashed into. I had to let the salt water heal my cuts, so that I could get on with my journey.

– Lyssa