I’d just finished telling the twins how amazing I thought I was (I make a point of saying regularly that I think I’m beautiful, that I love my smile, that I’m awesome etc etc so I don’t pass any of my hangups about how I look onto the kids). Anyway, that day when I said it, it struck me that I should actually try to make myself really believe it a bit more, rather than just saying it. I think it came off the back of Sara’s post about creative selfies, and Sarah-Lou’s new #FridayFacelessPortrait project, which had got me to reflect about how little I appear in my own photographs. I’m always busy behind the lens, capturing holidays or just the everyday moments, but I’m largely absent from that visual history of our family life. It’s funny, I can’t stand having my photograph taken – I feel anxious and awkward and pretty much always hate the pictures – but I have no problem being filmed. I have no idea why one feels so out of my comfort zone, while Im totally at ease with the other.
I decided to challenge myself to take a self-portrait and publish it here on the blog. I’ve been desperate to show off the tattoo I got last year, but taking photographs of the tattoo meant taking photographs of myself (or, even worse, getting someone else to take a photo of me), so I put it off endlessly, until I pretty much forgot that I never shared it. To finally make it happen, I planned a little photo shoot for myself, and ridiculously that made me feel nervous. Nervous of me, on my own, taking photos of myself. Utterly absurd! I put on makeup. I did my hair. I even painted my nails for goodness sake, and I can’t even remember the last time I did that.
Anyway, I’m already feeling uncomfortable about focusing on the self-portrait aspect of this post, so let’s zone in on the tattoo instead. I’d been planning this tattoo for years, but it didn’t become a reality until I stumbled across tattoo artist Rebecca Vincent on Instagram. I fell head over heels in love with her work, and knew immediately that she was the perfect person to tattoo me. I think I emailed her to book an appointment within a few days of discovering her, and then had to impatiently wait another four months before my appointment came around (she is one in-demand lady).
I took a few visual ideas with me to my appointment and Rebecca got it straight away – she didn’t sketch anything out, just drew the design freehand onto my arm. It’s a young olive branch – I like the symbolism of the olive branch, as well as the idea of growth. And it reminds me of Greece, and specifically of a place called Olive Tree Cottages, which is where I met Ben nearly 18 years ago. Rebecca is fun and easy-going, and I enjoyed every minute of being tattooed by her. She’s based at Parliament Tattoo in Finsbury Park, London, which is an airy warehouse space that made me feel calm and relaxed.
To say that I adore my finished tattoo is an understatement. It gives me joy every single time I catch a glimpse of it. As soon as I finish this blog post, I’m going to email Rebecca and book another appointement – either to expand this existing tattoo, or for something new (I have an idea in mind). And I promise that next time, it won’t take me nearly a year to model it here with pride.