It all is down to the fact that I am hankering after a tiara.
Not too long ago, my dear friend on Facebook managed to convince me that I needed to fly the flag of the older women and enter myself for the Miss Tattoo competition at the Liverpool Tattoo Convention. I was going to the convention anyway as I was booked to have the most epic tattoo by Katriona MacIntosh, who has been nominated Best Newcomer.
So, I entered myself. The selection process was pretty simple. You post up your chosen photo with a little blurb about yourself. The public can then vote and the ten with the most votes would go through to the next round. So here was my entry. I was somewhat hit by a onslaught of prosaic diarrhoea and wrote this lengthy blurb in some vain attempt to make myself feel more credible as a candidate.
My interest in tattoos spans over a period of almost 20 years, sparked initially when I spent a few years of my childhood in Borneo before it was subjected to inevitable modernisation. As a child I found the permanent skin etchings on the Dayaks and Ibans intriguing. Actual skin doodles that No mother could scrub off with soap and water!
Over the years, I have collected a substantial amount of tattoos, starting on skin not so publicly visible and moving on to areas which are difficult to cover up. I am quite heartened that I have yet to be publicly scorned for my tattoos and have never been discriminated against because of them.
I have had several career changes in my life, from being a teacher to working as a midwife for 7 years and now owning my own bakery. In between, I have paused momentarily (several times!) to have my children. All this while acquiring more and more ink and not allowing the perceived, yet questionable stigma of being a tattooed woman to hinder whichever path I choose to take.
My Japanese leg sleeves are by Darren Stares, they are still work in progress as is my Saira Hunjan backpiece. Other pieces by Nico of Softmachine, Emma Grech, DannyBoy of Inksmiths of London and Glenn Symonds. I have others planned and often chortle silently to myself when people appear bemused when I tell them that I am not done yet. Not close. I’d like to think that I represent that section of the society to whom getting tattooed is not a passing phase of the young and rebellious. Being tattooed to me is about filling in the blanks, owning the skin I am in and finding solace in the permanence of the ink.
In my spare time, I participate in roller derby and love to nurse the bruises and grazes I get from it. I will be at the Brighton Tattoo Convention this year with my Whipped & Baked tattoo inspired cupcake stall. Come and say hello to me.
And I don’t know if it were my wit or my ankles, I made it through to the next round. The next round was pretty much the same. People had to vote again, and despite the slightly tricky process of having to register and wait for a confirmation email, which invariably ended up in everyone’s spam filter, I actually made it through to the final 10.
So here is the bit that I didn’t quite consider the implications of. The final is at Liverpool Tattoo Convention. By a panel of judges. On a stage. In front of EVERYONE. And I’ll have to introduce myself and all, and actually avoid snorting into the microphone or giggling like the village idiot.
Whilst the are people who are congratulating me for my go get ’em approach to life, I am silently face palming myself. Since opening the bakery, my hair has been tucked up in a baking snood. It’s been weeks since I’ve worn high heels and what’s worse is, I literally have NO eyelashes left. I’ve somehow managed to dust my eyes with icing sugar every time I’m making icing and then caramelising my eyelashes when opening the door to a hot oven. Yum. Crunchy lashes.
So, I’m trying to remind myself that this isn’t a beauty contest. As I would never consider myself as befitting to enter a beauty contest. No one who is careless and carefree enough to accidentally shave their eyebrow when giving their hair an undercut is ever going to be beauty contest material.
And I intermittently remind myself, that as a heavily tattooed woman who has been collecting ink for over 20 years, I’ve pretty much shown that the very fact that I am tattooed has never hindered me from getting what I want, or doing what I want. The career progression from teacher to midwife to baker sets a great example of this. Even now, with the bakery, my ink is publicly visible and it doesn’t seem to bother anyone. Not outwardly at least. I’m being judged for the work I produce and by how I conduct myself with others – that should always be the case for everyone. And that is what this competition is all about, it’s about women who are inked who are being positive role models.
Rewinding to the fact that I hardly have any eyelashes anymore, to match my one non-existent eyebrow, you’ll be pleased to know that I have found ways of coping. It ain’t pretty and it’ll show me up as a somewhat vain individual but guys, eyelashes are important, they’re like windshields for your eyes. So I got myself eyelash extension.
Katrina, my beautician at Glorious Spa is now my new bestie. What a conjurer of miracle she is. Never mind that even she looked surprised when she told me that the fake lashes actually looked good on me. She can do no wrong in my (fluttery lashed) eyes.
I’m not sure if I’ll manage another post before I leave for Liverpool late on Friday. I’m making contingency plans. I’m the oldest by about 10 years at least and with more children than all of them put together, I suspect. There’s no way I’m going to win. So tomorrow, I am going to the toy shop and I’m buying myself a Barbie tiara.
Just watch me.