Vix Leyton has always hated the tops of her arms, so she did something to take control and change that. Now she’s getting them out all over the shop.
I’d been pondering having a tattoo for a year before it happened, and even the thought of getting one was exhilarating and empowering.
Working in PR, I know about creating an impression, so I initially had reservations and canvassed journalists on whether it would damage credibility if a PR had a tattoo (classic ‘asking for a friend’).
In the end I thought, “Fuck it.” At 32, it was time to stop letting other people’s opinions dictate decisions I made about my body.
I have hated the tops of my arms forever. In darker moments, I thought about getting scissors and cutting the fat off them. The idea of putting something beautiful there to admire really appealed to me. I was taking this part of me back. And the simple act of allowing someone access to this area was an act of bravery in itself.
The design was easy; I’ve always loved peacock feathers and it took on added meaning by virtue of the fact they were my wedding colours. Unsurprisingly, people had views on that too – peacock feathers are, apparently, bad luck.
Opinions are like arseholes, goes the old adage: everyone has one. And when it comes to tattoos, everyone wants to give you their arsehole.
The more people who told me it was a bad idea, the more I wanted it. And people were queuing up to tell me about the pain – described as everything from sunburn (I liked this) to agony (I liked this less).
“The inside of your arm?! *wince* You know that’s the worst possible place, right?”
“Was the girl who was scared of the dentist really going to walk into a shop voluntarily, expose her most hated part, and have a stranger make indelible marks there?”
When faced with an unknown, my weapon of choice has always been research. I spent hours online, watching videos, reading forums, and there was NO CONSENSUS on pain; unsurprising, really, as it’s so subjective.
One trend did emerge – when it came to the place to go, people raved about The Family Business. One of the tattoo artists even had a gorgeous feather in their portfolio.
I got as far as scheduling a consultation but on the day I was crazy busy at work. I could have made the time but I took the out and it was four months before I got gripped again.
The catalyst was my friend at work having one done – he just popped out of work for a couple of hours like you would to buy a new pair of tights. I asked where he’d gone and The Family Business cropped up again. Chris Hewish, the guy I had chosen to draw on me in permanent marker, had a cancellation and was free that day. The stars aligned.
The Family Business is achingly cool, and some of my bravery rubbed off while I was waiting. What was I doing there? This was for cool people, and I wasn’t cool. I’d listened to Backstreet Boys on my way there.
Meeting Chris changed my mind. He was patient with my nervous babble, and made no mention of the fact that I’d opened with a weirdly formal curtsy handshake. I trusted him immediately and, without giving myself time to think, booked myself in to have it done in two weeks’ time.
I waited to be scared, but I just felt excited. I joked endlessly about chickening out, and fretted about the pain: was the girl who was scared of the dentist really going to walk into a shop voluntarily, expose her most hated part, and have a stranger make indelible marks there?
Well, reader, I did it. And I had a blast. As well as being ridiculously talented, the TFB crowd were such brilliant fun that it was easy to pretend I was in a hipster theme bar (a G&T would, admittedly, not have gone amiss).
While keeping me entertained and distracted, Chris took the work very seriously, and clearly took a lot of pride in it. Maybe I’m secretly badass (I doubt it) but the pain for me was, at worst, like having your arm scored by a compass.
And I love it. I typically fear change, so I expected to cry and second guess myself when the pumping adrenaline settled, but that hasn’t happened. This whole process; of surprising people, of surprising myself, re-appropriating my chunky little arm and, unthinkably, showing it off, has taught me about how much you can achieve if you really bloody want it.
I know I’m going to treasure this permanent reminder of crazy bravery forever. And even people with whole sleeves are looking at me with respect – not only that I got one, but that I got a big fuck-off technicolour one on my first go.
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Vix is a financial PR and ginabler who lives and works in East London. As a result she long ago lost sight of whether riding a unicycle while wearing a monocle is par for the course on a normal day.