Own Your Beauty: Why I Got Inked
By Bonnie Ratliff on December 15, 2010
BlogHer Original Post
Many years ago on SOAM, a woman posted a beautiful photograph of her breasts, pierced with delicate spheres of silver showing atop and below each nipple. Her breasts were those of a mother, not a young girl, and the adornment accentuated the beauty of who she was: a woman. The piercings had been her reward for her time spent nursing, a way to crown that which had done its miraculous job, creation in another sense of the word.
The idea inspired me. After all, throughout history and all over the world, people have used things like piercings and tattoos, even jewelry, to adorn the body for all sorts of reasons ranging from class status to spiritual protection to health care. And in every use there is the element of beauty.
For many years I wasn't into the idea of permanently marking my body with tattoos –- what if I changed my mind? And then, of course, I had children and my body was permanently marked in a way I really didn't choose. Suddenly, the permanency of ink didn't seem so intimidating. It's all a part of my story, anyway, isn't it? My scars speak of injuries or pregnancies; my tattoos speak of my children and my personal growth.
This is all, it seems, quite superficial. And perhaps not your cup of tea. And maybe, at first glance, somewhat uncharacteristic of me to write about superficial beauty. It is true that creativity goes so much deeper than our skin and our garments, and we should always, always be aware of that. But I like the idea of letting part of my inner spirit show in my physical body. I dress with creativity, and that makes me more authentically me. And I am not talking about fashion here -– I would not know fashion if it bit me right in my rear end –- I am talking about dressing in a way that makes you feel beautiful all over, regardless of what Joan Rivers might say about it. (That Joan Rivers reference right there is, I think, evidence of how out of sync I am with fashion these days.)
Being creative on an inner level is absolutely important. It is also more obvious. When we discuss being creative, we often think of bringing more art into our lives, in a variety of forms. I feel really drawn here to focus on joining the two themes –- creativity and body. Besides, you are already creative. You might forget to notice, but you create every day. The meals you make for yourself are art, even if they are instant oatmeal or a simple stir-fry. The daily movements you make, be it exercise, or simply briskly walking to an appointment, are art if you choose to think of them as such. And making that choice is important –- you will hold your head up higher as you create your simple, daily, beautiful art.
Douglas Adams, author of the famed Hitchhiker's Guide, has another book called Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. (Leave it to me to bring silly science fiction to a deeper level and apply it to the well-being of women in this culture.) One of the themes of this story is that, thanks to math, a musical score can be made of anything in nature, from the way a rabbit moves his ears, to the curve of a valley. This idea fit right into my heart the first time I read the book. Everything I see is music. The shape of my body, the way I snore when I sleep, even the way I lose my temper, is a musical score waiting to be discovered by some future composer able to tap into the universe in that essential way.
And the same is true of you. Each step you take each day is music. The way you hold a friend's hand is music. Your smile's curve is music. That instant oatmeal is music, too.
So while you think this month over your inner creativity and while you ponder the idea that your body can be your canvas, too, please remember that you are creative every moment of your life. Madeleine L'Engle spoke often about being co-creators with God. I know we don't all share the same idea of God, but I think we can all take this idea and conform it to suit our spiritual beliefs. The point is that we –- you -– should create, in whatever capacity you are called to, and that creativeness will not only help your beautiful self to shine to the world, but you will help the world to shine as well.
More Own Your Beauty on BlogHer
- How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Nose
- See Karen Walrond's interview on on creativity with Ali Edwards
- Here's My Post-Partum Body: No Fear, No Regrets
Own Your Beauty is a groundbreaking, year-long movement bringing women together to change the conversation about what beauty means. Our mission: to encourage and remind grown women that it is never too late to learn to love one's self and influence the lives of those around us - our mothers, friends, children, neighbors. We can shift our minds and hearts and change the path we follow in the pursuit of authentic beauty.
This blogger is also featured on EndlessBeauty.com, a website focused on a fresh look at beauty, from skin to hair to makeup, plus celeb style, fashion, and fitness.
Bonnie blogs at The Shape of a Mother.
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