Tattoos Taught Me to Love the Skin I’m In

How seeing her body as a canvas jump-started our Visual Designer’s self-love journey.

Feeling totally comfortable in your skin is a journey, one that can include exploring your personal style or finding a community of like-minded people. For Dia&Co Visual Designer Nikki Bosso, her journey began with something a little different—getting tattoos. Keep reading to learn how viewing her skin as a canvas for art taught Nikki to love her body.

 

Written by Nikki Bosso

 

Growing up, I had a fairly rough relationship with my body. By that, I mean that we weren’t friends. I was famous in my family for wearing hoodies to the beach and constantly wearing oversized boys’ clothing. Exposing any part of my body that wasn’t my calves or my forearms was too much for me, and I always felt like people were staring at me when I did show more skin.

My family consists of my mother, my father, and my two sisters—one older and one younger—and they were always much smaller than I was, both in height and size. My mother was always concerned about my weight, and although it was well-intentioned, it made me feel as if my body was wrong. I was built to be muscular like my dad, and for that I was pretty proud, but even my dad had concerns because Diabetes runs in our family. This led to me hating my body because the only thing it ever did was make people concerned for me—and there’s nothing I hate more than pity. It wasn’t until I got into the family tradition of tattoos that I started to see my relationship with my body change.

My whole family has tattoos, so getting some myself was never this rebellious thing like it is for a lot of people. It was a rite of passage. It gave me a sense of belonging to my family. My first tattoo was a Celtic knot that I got with both of my sisters (my youngest sister got hers years later). I got it on my right inner wrist because that was a safe spot for me—I could show off something that I loved and shared with my family in a place I didn’t feel I needed to hide. I didn’t get any more tattoos until after college, but the effect even just having one had on me was huge.

The effect even just having one [tattoo] had on me was huge.
nikki bosso showing off tattoos on her back in front of red wall

As I continued getting tattoos in different places, I slowly started to become comfortable with the concept of my skin. My tattoos made me feel like I could look at my body and be proud of what it represented. It was a huge shift for me mentally. I have a large piece on my right upper arm that I’m really proud of and a collection of tattoos on my left forearm that wraps around. Having both of them has led me to feel more comfortable showing my arms and going strapless because I have something that, in my mind, is worth showing off and putting on display. I went from wanting to show off the art on my arms to showing off my arms themselves.

My back is a funny story because it was actually supposed to be a much larger piece, but after going to the shop to continue the tattoo, I realized how uncomfortable I felt in the shop itself (despite the fact that my tattoo artist was absolutely lovely). I chose not to finish it there and didn’t go back. That said, I hated showing off my back more than anything for a very long time, but once I had these beautiful birds on my back, there was really nothing stopping me.

Even the tattoos on my fingers and hands were major steps for me. I’ve always had short fingers that were very chubby, even at my lowest weight, and I hated them because everyone around me, including other plus-size women, had these long, elegant fingers. I’ve slowly learned to love my hands because now they’re artwork, and they represent the work I do every day.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Like anyone who goes on a self-love journey, I still have a lot of work to do. I don’t have any tattoos on my stomach because they’re incredibly painful—and I don’t feel comfortable showing off that part of myself yet. I do think that the next step I take will be my legs because I can’t keep wearing jeans during 90-degree New York City summers. Plus, I’m proud of where my legs have taken me and how strong they’ve become. Why shouldn’t I make art out of something that’s taken me so far?

nikki bosso in yellow sunglasses and black dress in front of red wall

Nikki Bosso

Dia&Co Visual Designer & Living Work of Art

 

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