Girls with Tattoos is a project in celebration of female and tattoo beauty, inspired by lots of things…
– questions I’ve been asked about my own tattoos and the wider questions these raise about expectations of female appearance /
– a love of illustration + admiration of the skill of top-notch tattooists /
– factors which affect female body image /
– a wish to share positive stories and images from tattoo owners/
I’m really pleased that Kath agreed to be my fifth participant…
Name: Kath Grimmit / What I do: Creator of sportswear based dreams Live: South Wales / Age: 30
1. How many tattoos do you have?
I have 11, but technically 6 of those will turn into one half-sleeve when it’s finished.
2. What inspires the subject matter of your tattoos? Is there a general theme?
Usually people and life events, and things that I love! So my first one was a memorial tattoo of my nanna and that’s where it started. Every tattoo symbolises a person or an event in my life that I felt needed marking.
3. Expanding on themes, do you have stories behind some of your tattoos? If yes, can you tell us some?
I have a ship’s wheel behind my right ear which is part of the logo of The Tiger Bay Brawlers – my roller derby team. Even though I don’t skate anymore I am still part of the team, and it represents my experiences and every strong, amazing person involved in that team and how much respect I have for them, and how much they have influenced and help shape my life.
4. What inspired you to get your first tattoo, and have your reasons for getting tattooed changed as time has passed?
My first tattoo was of a lily on my foot and it was to symbolise the passing and life of my nanna. She was a very special lady to me and the reason that I have such a passion for what I do. If I hadn’t been brought up with sewing and creativity in my life, I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing now.
5. What has been the reaction to your tattoos by your world around you? If relevant, what have been the positive reactions, and what have been the negative?
It really does depend on the situation, the people and the country!
My dad hates them. We have to agree to disagree on my tattoos.
I once had someone chase me down the street to ask me where I got my mandalas done because she said they were so “feminine” and “not scary tattoos” which was really nice.
The Roller Derby community is such an expressive and diverse community that they are not out of place at all there it’s really inclusive and my experiences with that have been some inspiration behind a few of mine and a lot of others tattoos.
Negatives, it’s mostly the older generations to be honest. Thinking that it’s unladylike to have tattoos.
I do sometimes get a shock reactions from people who have known me a while that don’t realise I have a half sleeve on my left arm. It’s mostly because I wear a lot of knitwear (gotta love the knits) and then I suppose people don’t expect to see a sleeve when they barely see someone without a hoody on.
6. Do you feel the reactions to your tattoos are any different as you’re a woman, than they would be for a man?
Most of the time no. I usually get complimented on how “not masculine” my tattoos are so, I guess not really. It’s becoming pretty common these days right?
7. Questions I’ve been asked about my tattoos, include:
- “What are you going to do on your wedding day?”
- “How will you feel when you’re old?”
How would you answer these questions?
My answer to both is FUCKING KICK ASS!! My tattoos are part of who I am. That’s why I have them. Have you seen the buzzfeed of all the “old people” (they’re not old) who are completely covered. They look AMAZING. If I’m lucky enough to look that amazing when I am their age then bring it on!! If I am covered when I am 91 then I think that’s a pretty amazing representation of what a full, memorable and awesome life I have had.
8. Do you feel there are expectations regarding appearance and body type in society today?
I am a BIG advocate of loving the skin that you’re in. You are who you are and if you are happy with that, then does it really matter what anyone else thinks?
If you’re not hurting anyone then why is appearance and body image such an issue. If YOU are unhappy then YOU have the power of change it. If you are making judgements on other people, that’s your problem not theirs. You don’t know their story. What you think of other people is a projection of yourself not them. See the good in the world, see the good in people. It really winds me up when people are told they should do, act, look, be a certain way. Find who you are and embrace that! Sorry I went on a mini rant then. Yes I do think it exists and you have to find a way to deal with that, that you are ok with. If you are a fighter for that cause then HELL YEAH, but if you just choose to ignore it and take your own path then that is totally amazing too.
9. What are your experiences of body image?
I was really badly bullied in high school for being “fat.” I went to uni and I started exercising for fun. It had never been made fun for me before, just about my weight and how I needed “to be thinner.”
Then I found roller derby. Roller derby is THE MOST empowering thing that you can do if you are body conscious. It doesn’t matter how tall or short you are. What size you hips are or how small your shoulder are. Your body is your vessel. In roller derby you use your body to play to your strengths. Everyone’s body is different and can do amazingly different things. Someone who is small and quick may be a kick ass jammer and can get through the smallest of gaps where as someone who is tall with broad shoulders can smash through those blocker walls and jam in a completely different yet equally effective way. I’m not saying that I don’t have those days where I look at my arms and think, “Urgh.”
On the whole I am very proud of my body. It is my armour, my home and my tool to do amazing things.
I work in the fashion industry so I am no stranger to perceptions and subjection to media stereotypes but in my experience and what works for me is knowing that I would never be happy being a size 0.
My weight, my exercise and the stress of maintaining that would consume me and a size 0 is not my natural size, I’d be forcing my body to do something that it shouldn’t be doing. I don’t want that for myself or my loved ones. I eat fairly well, I exercise, I have fun, my weight goes up and down depending on what’s going on in my life and to me a happy life is more important than being able to say you’re a certain dress size.
10. Have your tattoos changed the way you view your body at all?
I don’t think so. Roller derby has that privilege.
11. Are there any tattoo artists you love above others?
Jessi James, the artist of my sleeve-in-the-making, is one of my all time faves.
12. Can you name a best tattoo you’ve ever seen?
There is a New York Artist called Jonboy who makes the MOST beautiful tiny tattoos. His old school ship is one of my faves.
13. Are you planning to get any more tattoos?
Yeah I will definitely get more. There’s a lot to note down. Need to get my sleeve finished and I definitely need some more animals.
14. Do you think there’ll be a point when you’ll stop getting tattoos?
I honestly don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. Hopefully the memorable experiences that are worth inking will be plentiful for however long I have left 😊
Kath Grimmitt lives in Cardiff with her bearded companion and a tea addiction. An enthusiast of sportswear and general high jinx she spends most of her days playing with lycra.
Kath worked as a high street designer for many years and after a short spell in PPI redress, she created her own company. You can follow her journey on Instagram: @the_power_of_greyskull