A Cheat Code for Self-Love

Instagram 10-12-21

As it is for many, my journey to self-love has been long, with many walls and speed bumps along the way. I also still have a long way to go to love and accept my own body the way I do others’.

Somewhere along the way, though, I discovered my own, personal cheat code: decorations.

My first tattoo was on my hip. At the time, I wasn’t super fond of the area. But, after my tattoo had healed, it was like it’d flipped a switch. How could it be anything but fabulous when I had such a cool tattoo?

Granted, this is more something I realized in hindsight. At the time, I was so excited to finally have a tattoo that I didn’t pay any attention to how I felt about my hip. After all, there were, unfortunately, plenty of other areas I disliked back then.

Figuring it Out

Over the years since, I slowly, but surely, realized the joy and acceptance my decorations (tattoos and piercings) brought me. Just last year, I made a decision to finally get the navel piercing I’d wanted for years. I’ve never liked my stomach, and I didn’t think I’d ever feel comfortable enough to show off a navel piercing, and didn’t really see much reason to get it if I didn’t show it off.

Eventually, though, I told myself to stop being silly and just get it. So I did. And I realized that I was more positive about my stomach after I got the piercing. I said less mean things to myself in the mirror, instead focusing on how cool my new jewelry looked.

Being far happier with my body probably helped with my realization. I didn’t have many other areas of dissatisfaction to distract me. Instead, I could realize that I had different feelings about a previously problematic area. I like seeing my piercing.

I’ve gone so far as to buy some crop tops. We’ll see if I manage the confidence to wear them outside. But I digress.

Time to Cheat

Once I came to the realization that I could “cheat” my way to self-love, I started thinking about other places I should decorate. One of the main areas I still struggle with accepting is my sides. But I couldn’t figure out exactly what kind of tattoo I wanted.

Until one day, I came across @eatthecaketoo’s Instagram post. I loved — still love — her “Masterpiece” tattoo. The reminder of self-appreciation struck a chord with me.

It didn’t take me too long after that to decide what to get. Year ago, I watched the documentary America the Beautiful, and this scene has stuck with me ever since. For those who don’t want to watch the video, the main takeaway is to not compare yourself to others and to love your body, regardless of how it looks.

And so, I had my theme, “love your tree.”

Tattoo Time

But it wasn’t quite right on its own. It needed something more.

I eventually settled on a dryad silhouette and provided my tattoo artist, Cat, with some images I found on Google. She presented me with this lovely design a week later.

Original artwork. Voluptuous dryad with roots and branches bare. Some roots and branches forming into hearts.
You can see where I had her make the original artwork a bit more voluptuous.

I had her adjust sizing, make the “trunk” a bit more…voluptuous, and we worked together to choose a font for the lettering. On September 22nd, I got my tattoo. I didn’t plan it, and didn’t even realize until I put the appointment on the calendar when I got home, but I got my tattoo on the autumnal equinox. It felt fitting. The start of a new season in my self-love journey.

Certain aspects of the tattoo were painful, namely the roots, tips of the outermost branches, and shading the trunk. It was also interesting how I could feel the difference between when Cat was tattooing ribs vs. the space between ribs.

I was so happy to see it done. It was perfect, and I loved it immediately. I knew it would be a good reminder to love my body for what it does.

Design freshly tattooed with "love your tree"
Freshly tattooed. This is about 3 hours out.

So… Did it Work?

It’s been about 2 weeks since I got my tattoo, and, yes, it did work. I find myself being even more positive and complementary to myself when I look in the mirror. I end up lifting my shirt in the bathroom to look at the design.

Healed tattoo
Almost fully healed, about 2.5 weeks out.

Admittedly, some of this may just be the “new shiny” anomaly, but I think it’s here to stay. I’ve even found myself wondering if there are any clothes I could get that would show it off.

I’m 100% happy with my tattoo, and 1,000% happy with the cheat code results.


Do you have any “cheat codes” for self love? If so, let me know in the comments. I could always use some more.

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