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For the Love of Tattooing, the Transformative Tattoo: Leigh Rooks

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For the Love of Tattooing, the Transformative Tattoo: Leigh Rooks

Sean Herman

Here's the third story in our series "For the Love of Tattooing, the Transformative Tattoo", that we are presenting with our good friends over at openoureyes.org. To learn more about this series, check out our introduction blog here.  We hope you enjoy!.

Sean Herman


Written by Sean Herman

“…tattooing can serve to heal, to empower, and to promote body acceptance and self-esteem.” (1)

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photo of Simone de Beauvoir

photo of Simone de Beauvoir

“To lose confidence in one’s body is to lose confidence in oneself.”

-Simone de Beauvoir 


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A few years ago I was fortunate enough to tattoo an awesome guy named Dayton.  Dayton is one of the most positive, easy going people I have ever tattooed.  The whole experience was easy and positive, and during that time, he told me about his wife Leigh.  Dayton is soft spoken, and doesn’t talk just to fill the air, so when he does, he has something to say. From everything Dayton told me, Leigh was strong, outspoken, and confident.  She set up a consultation with me, and I was able to experience it in person.  She had a viewpoint on tattooing that treated it as sacred and empowering, leaving her to be incredibly encouraging and respectful of me and the process of tattooing as a whole.  They are definitely the clients that you dream of, the kind that leave you feeling even better than you did at the beginning of the appointment.  The more I talked to her, the more I learned that this confidence I saw before me was created by her own recent reclaiming of her body and her body image.  I was amazed to learn how she had taken control of her life, and decided she wanted to be happy, and that she wanted change.  Tattoos were a part of that change, making me feel grateful and fortunate to get to take part in this woman creating a strong image for herself, one that has influenced more people that she will probably ever know.  Here’s Leigh telling her story, about where she was, and the power she decided to take back.  

 

The tattoo I did on Leigh based on a painting by Audrey Flack

The tattoo I did on Leigh based on a painting by Audrey Flack

Leigh:  “I've had so many instances in life where my family & friends have discouraged me from pursuing my dreams & doing the things that make me happy. One instance stands out in particular for me when thinking back on my decision to get my first major visible tattoo. I recall receiving a phone call during Christmas holidays several years back from an old friend from high school. We were simply discussing styles & different fashions when I brought up my plan of getting this large piece tattooed on my inner forearm to which her entire attitude & tone changed at the thought, almost as if she was offended by my plan. I distinctly remember her making the comment that visible tattoos on females just look trashy & blah, blah, blah. By this point in the conversation I felt like I was being judged & decided to end the phone call in the politest way possible even though I was utterly annoyed. You see, I've always been the type of person that likes to express myself through style & such. I've always loved the look of heavily tattooed skin & oddly colored hair & stuff like that, but for the longest time I was too afraid of what others would think of me if I followed through with these ideas for myself. I think that conversation with my friend was the straw that broke the camel's back. The push that I needed where I decided that this tattoo would be for me & my happiness only & that after years of feeling too afraid to do the things I wanted to do for myself, I no longer had any fucks left to give on the matter."

Close up of the tattoo I did on Leigh based on an Audrey Flack painting

Close up of the tattoo I did on Leigh based on an Audrey Flack painting

  "For the longest time I not only battled with the fear of what others thought of me, I was fighting a battle with myself. I was at this time extremely overweight & just really trying to find myself. I yearned to be comfortable in my own skin basically & so I made up my mind that it was time for extreme change & time to take charge, so I finally went & got the tattoo that I'd beenwanting & it was all awesome from that moment on. I felt a sense of control over my life that I'd never felt before. It's like the idea that I didn't have control over my own body, but with tattooing I had control over what went onto my skin which gave me back some of that lost control & it bled back into other aspects of my life & now I'm in a much more positive place than ever before. For instance, I had mentioned earlier about my struggle with being overweight. After receiving my tattoo & feeling absolutely liberated from the process, I felt an incredible rush of boosted self esteem. My tattoo was beautiful & I felt beautiful & it pushed me to wanting to improve my image even further. I went on to lose 160 pounds & am now heavily tattooed & happy." 

Close up of the tattoo I did on Leigh based on an Audrey Flack painting

Close up of the tattoo I did on Leigh based on an Audrey Flack painting

  "My decision to get tattooed put all of this in motion & empowered me to become the person that I am today. I'm constantly being complimented on how beautiful my body art is & the overall positive attention I receive is amazing. Of course there are still haters out there, but I've learned to overlook them for my own sanity because they don't matter. I matter & that's what's most important. I love myself too much to live confined in the chains of judgment from others. & a big thank you is owed to you, Sean. You're such an amazing & caring artist & you've played an important role in this transformation of self discovery & for that I am forever grateful.”  


SEAN HERMAN

SEAN HERMAN IS A FATHER, TATTOOER, WRITER AND CREATOR.  BORN MOVING, HE WAS INVOLVED IN ALL KIND OF MOVEMENTS FROM MISSIONARY WORK IN YOUTH,  TO PUNK ROCK TO ANARCHISM, THESE ELEMENTS ARE WHAT SHAPED HIM TO BE WHO HE IS TODAY, ALL COMPLETELY DIFFERENT, AND ALL THE SAME.  THE ONE THING THAT WAS ALWAYS A CONSTANT WAS POSITIVITY AND THE ART OF CREATION.  LEARN MORE AT WWW.SEANHERMAN.COM