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My Tattoos Speak For Me

by Josey Pickering 2 months ago in art
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Being heavily tattooed and autistic

My Tattoos Speak For Me
Photo by Maixent Viau on Unsplash

I don’t know exactly how many tattoos I currently have. Last time I sat and counted with my wife, it was around 85. After a while, I stopped counting when I got them. They’re all a piece of the artwork of me.

When I was a kid, I wasn’t sure I ever wanted tattoos. My grandpa had some pretty backward thoughts about people with tattoos and drilled it into my head that people with tattoos were nothing but bad news. I was 18 when I got my first tattoo, and I realized how much I could say with tattoos without even saying a word.

So I kept going. I’m still going, haven’t stopped. Thinking about getting a couple more small pieces for my birthday next month even. Im always adding to the canvas of my skin, telling story after story without having to even open my mouth.

You see, Im autistic with some pretty intense social anxiety. Small talk makes me shut down, it takes me a bit to open up and more often than not I’ll be quiet with people I don’t know well enough. Some people will find me rude for speaking to someone I know but not them, even having the person Im with talk for me. It’s tough sometimes, but my tattoos have helped me through small talk to give me something I love to talk about. Something Im excited to share and ready to info dump about. I have tattoos for many of my favorite people and fixations. I have a handful of Marvel tattoos, a few inspired by American Horror Story, a bunch for Marvel and even some of my favorite actresses. I’ve got enough text to be a poetry book, and people reading my tattoos flip the page and read another chapter about me.

People love to point out the bright colors that dot my arms and legs and point out things they recognize. When I’m at Universal Studios, it’s fairly normal for someone to point out and notice my Mr. DNA tattoo. It’s very common around the Jurassic Park ride of course, and so I’m always excited to chat with the people that spot it. Dinosaurs in general are a fixation of mine, but Jurassic Park/World is it’s own super obsession. Another tattoo of mine that gets people chatting is my baby Yoda in a gift box tattoo. That’s right, I have Grogu in a green present box on my leg, because he’s the gift that keeps on giving. People love to point him out and talk to me about him, and I enjoy telling them that he’s my little gift. In my Indiana Jones tattoo, I literally carry my father with me as some of his ashes were mixed into the black ink of the tattoo. It’s my way of keeping him with me even though he’s passed, and taking him out on adventures with me.

Some of my tattoos also cover scars, not just from injuries but from self harm. It’s a way to not be ashamed anymore but also open up conversations about my scars when people notice them. It helps me work through my shame but also tackle the stigma as well. My tattoos have become an armor of sorts, they help me much more than anyone would ever expect from a needle and ink on skin.

While there are people out there who regret certain tattoos of their own, there’s those of us whose tattoos are so much more then just an accessory. For many, it’s a way of expressing who they are, where they’ve been and what they have been through. For me, it’s the door that opens socialization… and so much more. If you find yourself wishing by to judge someone for their tattoos, remember that you don’t know their story or what their tattoos mean to them.


About the author

Josey Pickering

Autistic, non-binary, queer horror nerd with a lot to say.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (5)

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  • Mike Singleton - Mikeydredabout a month ago

    Excellent story, thank you for sharing this one Josey. I came across it because Catherine shared it in Vocal Social Society. We would love to have you join us if you are on Facebook here.

  • Catherine Kenwellabout a month ago

    This is so relatable and well written. Thank you.

  • Gail S.about a month ago

    Great writing! I myself have 35 at the young age of 61. Great way to express.

  • Lilly Cooperabout a month ago

    I'm on my 17th tat and oodles of plans for more! You've found a great way to connect with people and it's a great article :)

  • Joe Patterson2 months ago

    As someone who doesn’t have tattoos this was very enlightening. Also I’m a big Marvel fan and a big Star Wars fan so I really appreciate the fandom aspect of your tattoos, keep up the great writing.

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