A daughter's open letter to her parents about her tattoos
Writing this piece was both painful and liberating. And it is terrifying to share. If you choose to read this long, heavy piece, I hope you will read not as social media has conditioned us to read — extractively and with minimal effort — but sensitively and with compassion.
Beyond creative expression, I share this to destigmatize body dysmorphia. I dream of a world in which the beauty of a human body is no longer spoken of qualitatively, of greater or lesser value, but as a spectrum of countless, diverse meanings.
“Writing is dangerous because we are afraid of what the writing reveals: the fears, the angers, the strengths of a woman under a triple, quadruple oppression. Yet in that very act lies our survival, for a woman who writes has power.”
~ Gloria Anzaldúa, from “Speaking in Tongues: Letter to 3rd World Women Writers”
“I am writing you from inside a body that used to be yours. Which is to say, I am writing as a son.”
~ from On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
A good daughter is a daughter who takes care.
I am a daughter who takes.
I took my body, which my parents gave a sheltered and privileged childhood, and decorated it in a way they see as destructively reckless. I took the strong education they gave me and entered a "lowly" job in customer service to build a creative career on my own terms. I took a year's savings of cash tips, and spent it on tattoos.
This past year, time passed so slowly, the permanence of tattoos seemed the one thing I could control — the immediacy of its permanence. Knowing it would last through the years, even though body dysmorphia scarred my willingness to wait that long.
My tattoos are a letter to the person I’ll be forty, fifty, sixty years from now — her skin full of wrinkles and blemishes, her heart that has loved, broken, and healed.
To this woman, these tattoos are a promise, that I'll meet her there.
A daughter’s open letter to her parents about her tattoos
by theresa seguritan abalos
August 2021 ~ I have decided to unpublish this letter for a variety of reasons. My warmest thanks to everyone who took the time to read it, everyone who shared what it meant to them, & everyone who has ever encouraged me to continue writing.