As a tattoo artist I witness the myriad reasons and kinds of people who get tattooed. I have tattooed a mourning 64-year-old-man transforming his grief, a Hasidic jew wanting to secretly express himself,  a young cancer survivor during his post chemo celebration. Memorials, achievements, jokes and dares, even the most controversial of all —  pure aesthetics — are all reasons people get tattooed. But the most common, and my main reason for tattooing myself, is self-reclamation.

Mira Keras
Mira Keras

Women especially — but most people, at one point or another — are made to feel that their body belongs to someone else. Everyone knows a woman who keeps her hair long because her man likes long hair, or a mother who is angry that her son wears a certain jacket or haircut, or a man who must stick to neutral business suits to accomodate a job, or a wife.

Mira Keras
Mira Keras

When it comes to tattoos, opinions get even more intense.

I felt I owed my parents my untattooed skin since they worked so hard to raise me and they have a strong distaste for tattoos. I felt I owed a specific tattoo artist the right to tattoo me since he taught me the skill to begin with. I even felt I owed my extremely open-minded husband a personal style, and tattoos, that fit his aesthetic preference. The truth is, I didn’t owe anyone. Tattooing my body made me realize that.

Mira Keras
Mira Keras

With each tattoo I chose for myself, I felt more self-possessed. That, in turn, made me better able to love the people who had unwittingly imposed their notions of how I should look and what I should do with my body.

Because love and ownership are two very different things.

My view is: “You are yours! Take ownership of yourself!

Mira Keras
Mira Keras

Mira Keras

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3 replies on “Tattoos As Self Reclamation

  1. I <3 IL because of the varied content and the truth. Thank you!

  2. Just heard you on splendid table. Loved your ideas. Clicked on link from their site- got a 404 error ( I think it went to about2) went to home, searched for fondue fork, read another post, and tried to read another.
    Oh no, hit my max of 5 articles. 1. No I didn’t. 2. Too soon to decide if I’m willing to pay. (Really even reading more probably wouldn’t pay. Interesting but I have So much to read.). 3. Was going to post to FB but I won’t because the paywall is too fast.

    Anyway, looks like a great site, inspiring. Only taking the time to comment because I liked hearing you, and I think ( as a marketing consultant and avid reader) you should test your biz model.

  3. Thank you for letting me know about the broken link. I alerted Splendid Table and they fixed it plus I made a special post on the homepage. My friends at Splendid were so slammed getting the holiday show together, they neglected to alert me that they’d be running the interview, taped some time ago.

    Re your concern about the paywall, it is, of course a big experiment as to whether I can produce great content and survive without taking ads or what has been called “black ops” branded content, secretly imbedded in the site.

    I’ve considered upping the free reads but am still testing five.

    Traffic from Splendid generated a lot of traffic and a lot of subscriptions, so the number seems to be working for many.

    I thanks for your input.

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