Making Peace with my Body

CN: This Post includes mentions of assault, drug use, and body image issues

On May 14th, I finally managed to get my first tattoo. Ever since I was a kid, I had an obsession with drawing pictures on myself. Whenever I was able, I would get henna tattoos of various sorts. I loved the idea of wearing art on my own skin.

Growing up, my parents would appreciate the art, but still disapprove of the whole concept of tattoos. They believed them to be irresponsible, silly, and a waste of money. They made the jokes that have become a social trope, about the hilarity of aged skin and what those tattoos would look like on a senior. It’s not uncommon to hear boomers of all sorts complaining about them and about the people who get them.

Until I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis and lost major functionality in my legs, I expected to grow up to be a doctor. If not that, I at least expected to be a professional of some sort. I knew that I would be doing myself if I got a tattoo somewhere visible, and so I made myself a deal: I wouldn’t get a tattoo until I turned 25. If I still wanted it by that point, then it was something I truly wanted and could find a way to make it happen.

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Making Peace with my Body
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Lessons from a Failed Bodyform

As a result of all the different things going on with my body, not to mention our financial situation, finding clothes for me to wear can be really difficult. For some time now, I’ve been strongly considering starting to make my own clothes. In order to do a better job of this, I’ve been wanting to make a bodyform out of my own body shape.

I’ve been looking up different ways of creating one. There are tons of ideas out there, including ones using plaster, duct tape, insulation form, all sorts of ideas. I decided to combine all of these different ideas in the hopes of creating something fantastic.

At the same time as doing mine, I decided to also make one for Alyssa. For all that people give her lots of clothes, there are some pieces that she has always wanted but couldn’t afford. I thought it would be fun to also have a form of her shape, so that I could potentially make them for her.

I decided to start with hers, and while I suspected this might be the case for some time not, I finally had to admit defeat. Her bodyform was a disaster. First we ran out of tape. Then the foam wouldn’t set. Then the top foam sank into the foam that wouldn’t set. Then the whole thing ended up very tilted. Finally, the plaster would not stop crumbling and the whole thing finally fell apart today resulting in a dusty and crumbly mess.

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Lessons from a Failed Bodyform

What’s the Story

In my last storytelling post, I wrote about how a lot of my paintings come with stories of their own. I usually just let it stay in my head, but I thought I might have some fun and actually tell you, dearest readers, some of the stories.

MEDUSA

Medusa from behind with a butterfly tattoo

Medusa is considered a monster, she is assumed to be so ugly that just looking at her face turns you to stone. But before she was ugly, she was beautiful. She had long lustrous hair, which is why it was changed in order to punish her. Her gorgeous locks turned instead into hissing snakes. But in her metamorphosis she went from being a victim to being a being of fear. Sometimes it is in change that you find yourself. For Medusa, metamorphosis is the meaning of her life, her own change and the change she brings on others. She commemorates this with a tattoo of a flying butterfly on her shoulder.

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What’s the Story

A Very Alyssa Playlist

I often think that the earliest sign of how my gender would eventually unfold was my taste in music. From the earliest I gravitated to pop music performed by women, and even as I grew older and this fondness became tinged with new feelings about the singers’ exposed skin and shapely bodies, there was something there that my male peers didn’t share. My autism aimed me at euphonious, smooth sounds and clear vocals that ruled out the harsher forms many of my peers preferred, but that wasn’t it, either. Before I knew what that meant or why, I could tell, they spoke my language. It was more than titillation, sensory needs, or aesthetics that drew me. The songs were about love and relationships and feelings, and all of them were expressed in magnificently feminine terms, and that made them real in ways that the male-led songs I gravitated toward in adolescence never managed to be.

I learned to be ashamed of this fondness, keeping it hidden. I’d gotten enough odd looks and dismissive noises to know that this was, at best, a child’s fancy best discarded, and more likely, something that contributed to the tumultuous awfulness of my adolescence. I forced myself to appreciate music led by men. I succeeded, but I never gave up on my old favorite sounds.

The future vindicated me.

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A Very Alyssa Playlist