What’s With The Tattoos? ~ Lee Anne Finfinger

Via on Aug 22, 2011

There is one question that I am asked more than anything else in the entire world.

The question I evade so much that it has cost me friendships is this innocuous, completely acceptable one: why do you cover yourself in tattoos?

I have full, colored tattoo sleeves that include the words inhale and exhale across my wrists, a chest piece, a large piece on the back of my neck, behind my left ear, on each shoulder blade and on each ankle. I got my first tattoo when I was 21.

The answer is so simple, yet I rarely tell anyone. (I can count on one hand the people who actually know). Without a glaring, daily, jarring, colorful reminder of who I really am, I will excuse myself so that I can make myself very tiny to fit behind you. I’ll slouch my 5’9” frame down so that I can make myself diminutive in stature.

I’ll say thank you demurely and I’ll even teach yoga class in a self-deprecating way. Those who can move into that pose, please do. For those of you like me, no worries, you’re in good company, just modify it. There’s something safe about being small. We get to play a small game and live small. Our mistakes are small.

Photo: Jhong Dizon

Our worries are small. Our losses are small. We’re not risking much and we’re okay with that because we try to diminish risk. Without risk, we won’t lose too much, but we won’t win much either.

Without risk, we won’t screw up too badly or make a fool of ourselves. Every now and then—I get pulled off my path.

Someone will knock me down with their idea of what I should be. I’ve even had someone tell me that a $10 word I used didn’t sound like a word I would say! But there I was, saying that word!

After a few good conversations with friends and some big colorful nudges (that sometimes get in the way at formal affairs)—I figure it out.

I don’t want a safe life. I’ll choose to make a mess, start one way and change my mind mid-trip and turn around and I’ll risk big.

Look for me and join if you like— I’ll be the brightly colored statuesque teacher with the loud laugh making no apologies for intensifying a pose or falling out of that pose.

Either way —I won’t be slouching.


Lee Anne (LA) Finfinger is a full-time Yoga Instructor, born and bred Pittsburgher. She and her husband live with their rescued cat, Harmony. When she’s not in a studio, LA can be found baking, running (thanks to yoga!), traveling, hanging with family and friends, mentoring in the community, reading, writing and knitting.  She can be found at: www.lafinfinger.com

About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive—and get your name/business/fave non-profit on every page of elephantjournal.com. Questions? info elephantjournal com



43 Responses to “What’s With The Tattoos? ~ Lee Anne Finfinger”

  1. LA, I love where you're you are going with this. I want to know more, specifically, which pieces mean what to you (if that's something you consider when getting tattooed). Although we see so many women with tattoos, we rarely see women with, say, sleeves of tattoos. I am interested in what drives you to do this.

    Thanks for sharing.


  2. Tanya Lee Markul Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  3. Tanya Lee Markul Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I love tattoos and I think it's especially charming on gals, if I may say so, although I don't have any myself. Most of my gal pals are all tatted up and I can't help but love it and admire it in a way.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Join us! Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
    Follow on Twitter

  4. I love this! I have been described as 100 lbs of loud. I definitely feel that getting my tattoos were part of this process.
    My first one was when I was 38. I got Namaste tattooed in Sanskrit on my lower back. My second tat is a lovely OM on my left shoulder blade. They are and will be always just for me. Because of their location, I can't "see" my tattoo , but knowing they are there makes me feel powerful and beautiful.

  5. George Bailey says:

    This might surprise you, but there are many people who don't care about your tattoos, or your vanity.

  6. LA Finfinger LAFinfinger says:

    Hi George,
    No, that doesn't surprise me at all.

    With Love,

  7. I now have 2 tattoos and i'm gearing up for # 3 :) I love tattoos that work with lines… and love planning them, looking at designs, etc… gives me some sort of control that i can't get elsewhere, if that makes sense.

    First tattoo is a sunflower with the stem reading: et lux in tenebris lucet

    Second tattoo is a little black pin-up girl with a pin-up dog.

    :) Thanks for this post LA.

  8. jhon baker says:

    There is little sexier than a beautiful woman with tattoos. A lot or a little.

  9. SaraS says:

    Love your words and your thoughts LA! I remember asking you about your chest piece in Costa Rica. You politely answered that only your husband and you friend know. I appreciated your answer…it's up to you want you want to share. They are beautiful and so are you!. Much love.

  10. anna says:

    It took guts to admit the true reasons for your ink. I applaud you for your courage.

    A German study found that 27% of those with tattoos/piercings admitted to cutting themselves in childhood. Compare that with less than 1% of the general population.

    Moreover, most of those cutters said they tattooed or pierced themselves to overcome the "bad things" that caused them to self-abuse themselves in childhood.

    For them it was a socially condoned form of self-abuse that helped them to overcome psychological trauma.

  11. Linda says:

    LA – you are beautiful inside & out, tattooed or tattoo-less. Your words are unique just like you and I love you for your honesty, brilliant way with words, & genuine sincere caring efforts. Thx for being a friend and fellow yogini leader. I will follow you anywhere!!!


  12. Louise Brooks says:

    Just out of interest – what will you do when you grow tired of some or all of your tattoos? It's not like getting sick of one's clothes. You can just get new clothes.

  13. Tanya Lee Markul Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  14. Karen says:

    Thank you for putting into many less and more articulate words what I have been trying to explain to people since my first tattoo at the age of 19…If I didn't keep putting myself out there, loud and colourful I would too easily fade to grey and hide away.

  15. […] What’s With The Tattoos? ~ Lee Anne Finfinger […]

  16. […] What’s With The Tattoos? ~ Lee Anne Finfinger […]

  17. […] Argh. Behold these glorious days of piercings and tattoos. “Everyone has them” is what you’ll hear often. This is a personal choice between you […]

  18. DCMama says:

    I'm confused – I read this article 3 times and kept looking for the rest of it. Lovely writing and I admire your strength, but I feel like I'm missing something big here…

  19. Lara says:

    I recently move from Florida where I feel like everyone around my age, 34 that is, has tattoos. I moved to Pittsburgh where I feel like I don't see them that often. It might be the sometimes frigid weather and the restrictions that places on ones wardrobe. Regardless I feel like I stand out more here than I did back home. Generally I don't really fret about it but there are those times we all have when are feeling less than powerful. Several months ago I attended a real yoga class for only the second time ever in my life.To say I was nervous would be a gross understatement. I am not comfortable in work out clothes to begin with and between that and my lack of any yoga teaching other than my DVD player. I was already feeling self conscious. On top of that my clothes for hot yoga don't cover my tattoos. To be honest I almost chickened out. I am so grateful that I did not. The teacher who walked in was LA and suddenly did I not feel so alone. I let go of the breath I had been holding for the last hour and I realized I was forgetting just why I wanted to be there in the first place. Now I go back every chance I get and it has changed my life. Thank you LA for being yourself and being unafraid. Your example give others the courage to do the same.

  20. Beth says:

    I actually find it quite sad that you feel you have to cover yourself in bright, bold, permanent tattoos so you don't 'forget' who you are; so you're reminded every day not to slouch, or blend in to the background…. It's a shame you can't just 'know' who you are without having to permanently remind yourself with visual cues.

  21. Anne says:

    Making oneself small is never good, if tattoos is a what you want, go for it! Personally I'm happy exclamation points come in all shapes and sizes :-)

  22. Sonya says:

    I don't understand this article. Having to explain your tattoos has cost you friendships? I guess i wonder why you put them in visible places if you don't want to explain them to people. When you look different people are gonna ask questions. I am 50 have many tattoos and very long dreadlocks. I am a hindu. My hair is of religious signifigence. I travel all over the world and people stare and comment all the time. And i am small barely 5 feet tall. But ya know i answer questions and take it as an opportunity to educate. I think may people have weird egos and want to look different but then get angry when people don't react the way they want them to.

  23. Todd says:

    Personally, I don't understand the fascination with tattoos, especially in the yoga world. Aren't some of the tenants of yoga (and of thoughtful, loving people in general) are loving your body just the way it is? Of not judging other on appearances? By having tattoos, you're altering permanently altering the perfection that you are. You're giving a premise for others to judge your physical self and not the inner self. Like the current Men's beard trend, let's call tattoos what they are- an alteration of the body acceptable to certain cultures and generations and has NOTHING to do with yoga.

  24. Namaste! I got a tattoo yesterday too!!! I have 4, not too big, but still people ask that question. My parents included. They think I wanna be anticomformist but I actually turn out to be comformist because everybody has tattoos nowadays. I answered it’s for myself but they think it’s impossible, because if you do something so visible on your body you must be doing it for others to look at you. I just want to express myself and have reminders of that expression under my eyes, every day, all the time!
    Hugs :)

  25. Leslie says:

    Beautifully written. I too am a yoga teacher with tattoos that are very personal. I can completely relate. No apologies, I’m just me. Love the last line of your piece, so strong! “Either way- I won’t be slouching.”

Leave a Reply