Justine & Léa

#003 19/04/2021

Welcome on H comme Handicapé.e.s (D like Disabled) the podcast that passes the mic to disabled people, because we need to hear them more. The topic of this third episode is going to be : tattoos. You'll discover a discussion with this time not one but two guests : Justine & Lea. We talked about body reappropriation, pain management and accessibility...A little bit longer than usual, I hope you'll like this episode as much as I do, even if you don't have any tattoo

First things first, can you introduce yourself a little bit

Justine : Hello, My name is Justine, I'm 35 years old and I'm from Belgium. This question is always a bit tricky. I never know where to begin .. I was born with neuromuscular disease, and we still haven't found out exactly what it was. And so yeah I have a training in journalism and during four years I hosted a radio where we were talking about this topic of disabilities.

Léa : Hello everyone, so my name is Léa, I'm 25 years old and since September 2020 work as a Head School Counsellor in a secondary school.  . And a few months ago I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a borderline personality disorder and an eating disorder. So yeah it's mostly an invisible disability because If I don't mention it, no one can know

What was your first introduction to the art of tattooing, and why did you like it ?

J : For me I don't exactly remember what brought me to the art of tattooing. So my first memory was this wish for me to express myself with the art of tattooing.  So all that thinking around "What kind of tattoo I want ? Where do I want it ?" and all that... But what exactly brought me to it, I don't really know. I don't recall having a lot of inked people around me growing up. Originally I come from a small village where there are more old people than inked people. So I can't really tell you what my first introduction was but from a young age I knew it was a form of art that I wanted to use to express myself.

L : For me I would say it's someone who made me discover the art of tattooing. So it's my fiance, who already had tattoos when I met her. So yeah... I also come from a more rural area where there are more old people than inked people. So I didn't know anything about tattoos. And it's when I was travelling abroad that I had my first experience with tattoos. And that's when I realised that...Well like my fellow said, that the art of tattooing and getting something inked on your skin could be a  different way to express a feeling, other than with words. And that's when I really understood that I could regain control over my body by telling my own story, telling something personal, in my own way. And that I didn't have to use words but that I could do it with images, in black and white in colour, whatever.
So it's really during my first trip outside of France that I discovered and had my first tattoo. And where I started to regain control over my body and where I told myself "It's my body, I can do whatever I want with it, and thanks to tatto I can express something personal on my body in an artistic way"

It's a great transition to the next question, because you talked about it a little bit already but...Did your tattoos changed something in the way you see your body and in the way you manage pain ?

For me yes. Before the first tattoo I didn't really think about it. I was wondering if it was going to hurt but that's all. My first tattoo covers almost all the height of my forearm, and the tattooist only tattooed a small part so...I remember that I didn't stop them, so I think that means it didn't hurt that much. So I don't really remember how painful my first tattoo was but it's true that I told myself, with my disease who's also an invisible disability because most of the time I don't need mobility aids to go around...But I have chronic pain in my whole body 24/7. It's a form of pain that I didn't choose, that I have to live with no matter what. It's here, I don't have a choice. Sometimes it comes along with other kinds of pain, like headache...And if I have to add on top of that the pain coming from medical exams. It's another kind of pain that I didn't choose. And with my first tatto and the others after that I realised that it was a way to express myself but also...Maybe it can sound strange for some people but also that it was...A pain that I could control. I wont say that I liked it, but at least it was a pain that I chose. I was the one in control, I was totally aware of what it was going to do, it wasn't a form of pain coming from my medical experience, but it was something that I chose. So it was really...Yeah it became something, an interest, a hobby, for this art of tattooing. And what comes along with it, of course getting a tattoo is always a little bit painful, no matter your level of control you have. But at least we chose it. We take responsibility for it, we "overpower" it, I don't know if it's the right word...Yeah for me it became...That's how it changed the way I manage pain. I told myself : At least now there is a part of my life where I'm in pain but I can blame no one but myself. I'm the one in control. It's a way to regain control over that pain that most of the time happens, and there is nothing I can do about it.

L : Well it's true that there is this idea of control. I choose my limit until I can't handle the pain. For me when it comes to pain from the tatto, I'm more in control, I'm almost in a meditative state when I get a tattoo. Because of my psychiatric disorders I tend to regularly experience self-harm, so that's a completely different kind of pain.  And when I make a comparison with the pain from the tattoo, people don't understand because I feel almost nothing. Again I'm almost in meditation when I get a tattoo, I can even fall asleep sometimes. It's really...I feel no pain when I get a tattoo because I already know the positive impact it's gonna have on me, on my body, the way I'm gonna see it and the way I'm gonna look in the mirror. All the "painful" aspects it can have on some people, personally I don't experience it because I don't feel the pain. And to come back to your question : "Did tattoos change something in the way you see yourself and the way you manage pain ?" Yes for me definitely because self-harm left a lot of scars on my body and most of those scars are now recovered. So I had what we call a "scar cover". And first of all the way I see myself changed, because I still see the scars but I also see all the stories behind them, and all rough patches that I took but still managed to go back on track. But there is also the way...The way people look at my body. When they look at my scars and when they look at my tattoos...Even if both looks are not necessarily very plaisant, they're still both very different. And so obviously, I mean, in my case, it changed the way...The way I see myself is totally different since I discovered tattoos. Since then I'm in peace with the reflection I see in the mirror. Actually after every new tattoo I see a new person. After a new tattoo it's like I moved on to the next chapter of my life. I tell myself I manage to overcome that situation in my life so I can get it inked and that's another battle that I won. That's why for me tattoos change the way I see my body. Between the eating disorders where my body goes from thin to fatter, and the scars...It's clear that tattoos really helped me to own my body and also to regain self esteem. And tattoos also helped me to see myself differently and therefore to show another and more positive image of myself.

It's very interesting and I can relate a lot with what you both said. Because for me it's also something very positive. Especially with my first tattoo. So my first tattoo is on my legs, next to scars that I had when I was younger, from a past surgery. And for years I hide those scars. I was that kind of person who wore jeans in the middle of the summer because they wanted to hide the scars. Today I'm almost proud to show my legs, I went from one opposite to the other so yeah it's a very positive outcome and a beautiful revenge.  And yeah also Justin what you said about the pain that you choose. And choosing to have a needle plant inside your skin and it has absolutely nothing to do with doctors or medical treatment...It's a very empowering feeling. And yeah after I left the tattoo artist...So my first tattoo was made in Nantes by l'Androgynette who's an amazing tattoo artist, professionally or as a human being and I highly recommend to everybody to go see her cause she's truly amazing. So I left her shop to go back to my airbnb and I just...Burst into tears. Because there was that feeling of "I did it!" of "I closed a chapter of my life and I can move on now" and it was so freeing.

L : And if I can add something... Because with tattoos there is also all that process of thinking about it before getting the tattoo. It's not only about getting the tattoo it's also about thinking about it and everything that comes before. First there are all the complexes that we've been working on for years and years. Then there is all the visual part. What kind of message we want to share, what do we need to see when we see ourselves in the mirror. And what do we need to keep that positive outcome from the tattoo. If we want their positive impact to last, it's a long process that requires a lot of time, several months sometimes years, to be sure that we're not gonna regret them.

Yeah and we need time to...Yeah to really know what kind of tattoo we want and to...Well to jump ahead. Which brings us to the next question : Wich tattoo was your first one, and why this one in particular ?

: My first tattoo is on the inside of my forearm. And from the time where I wanted to get the tattoo to when I finally got the tattoo, it took me ten years. People always say to me "wow it's a very long time" but again recently I had young people coming to me and telling me "Yeah I want to get a tattoo, but I'm not sure what" and my advice is still the same : Take time to really think about it. Because like Léa said there is this all processes of thinking about the meaning we want, the artist we want, and all that..Not every tattoo artist has the same style...And so when I had my first tattoo I was in college, doing this internship in a local radio here in Liège where I live. I've been a volunteer in this radio station for the past 14 years, until last year. And where I felt a real feeling of belonging. It was like finding a new family. Because I came out at a very young age, I was bullied in school. From primary to secondary school. I don't know what you call it in French but yeah let's say until I was 15-16 years old. And then with the disease I gained a lot of weight. There were a lot of things that made me feel like I couldn't find my place. My body made me feel bad, the world around me made me feel bad...And then I started this internship and later volunteering in this radio station where I really found my chosen family. We were all very close, we were having dinner at each other's places...It really was...And so yeah I wanted to leave a mark of this time on my arm, so I have radio headphones, beneath it there is a music sheet that goes all the way down to my wrist, with some music notes and a little star. That's my first one. It's pretty simple. Some people don't necessarily start with a big project...But yeah it's a little reminder from that time when for the first time in my life I found a place where I didn't feel judged, where we took me as I was, and where I felt fine and happy.

L : So for me the first ones...It's actually a two piece tattoo. I had it made by the artist nag.tatouages at a tattoo convention in Clermont-Ferrand. I don't know if you are familiar with her work, but like you said earlier for l'Androgynette, she's also a great artist, artistically and as a human being. She's very open minded, very clear, and very down to earth. So I didn't have the diagnosis at that time, but I was already aware of my phases. You know with bipolar disorder come "down phases" and manic phases. So I was already aware of those phases where I had some period of time where I desperately wanted to live, and others where I desperately wanted to die.  So I was alway swinging between those phases and I wanted to get that inked on my body because that's who I was at that time and who I always will be with the diagnosis. So on my right calf I had inked a faded heart. A broken heart with wires and arrows. And on my left calf a blooming heart, which is getting reborn and comes back to life with more stable goals. And my intention behind this tattoo was to show the ambivalence between the down phases and the manic phases. So nobody knows the meaning behind those two hearts but for me this first tattoo has a strong signification and means a lot to me. It was a way to express a lot of things without saying anything at the same time. Very often we want to use so many words to try to explain something we don't even understand ourselves. And just by having those two hearts tattooed it gave me the opportunity  to tell a lot about who I am and who I was at time. And yeah they're the first tattoos of a very long list (giggles)

Yeah once you started, it's very hard to stop (giggles) So now I would like to talk about those strangers on the street or in public space, that completely out of the blue are gonna ask you a report on your tattoos. Because before I started to have tattoos I already heard questions like "What happened to you ? Why are you in a wheelchair ?" from total strangers on the streets. First of all I have to say that it's very annoying, so for the able bodied people who are listening right now : Please stop, it's just inappropriate, and snoopy so please stop. So yeah I already experienced that, and then when I had my first tattoo I started to hear the same kind of intrusive questions...So my question is : have ever had to deal with that kind of inappropriate questions ?

J : Yeah I feel like it's almost compulsory. First of all, the thing that I found kind of funny it's that we live in a society where a lot of people are using filters on their pictures, but in real life, they don't have any. They're gonna ask questions, because they assume they have to know. In all sorts of situations without even thinking first how it's gonna impact you. And without even thinking if they really need an answer or not.
Nobody ever touched my tattoos except sometimes kids like my nephew and nieces who...Which reminds me that once I was at a family gathering and after a little while one of my wife's nephews, looked at my arms, took a pencil and started drawing on his arms because he wanted something similar (giggles) It was funny until his mom started yelling at me " you could have wear long sleeves!" So no, like I said nobody ever touched my tattoos except sometimes kids who ask if it hurts, because the skin looks different. Now if we"re talking about questions like "And what about when you'll get old ?" Well, when we get old we're all a little bit rumple, me I'll be rumple with swag. And also questions like "Did it hurt ?" What does it mean ?" "Are you gonna have more ?" Yes of course. All the time. For me I see my tattoos as...I only want them on my arms, because I never wear shorts or skirts so that's the only part of my body where I can always see them. For now I have four, five, and they're only on my arms. I see them as a diary. Open to everyone, but you need a code. So they look at my arms but they don't really know what it means. And most of the time if they ask me I say : Well, maybe what you see it's this, or maybe it's that...It depends on the person, sometimes I take the time to explain the significance, sometimes I don't.
But it can also have a pedagogic aspect for some people. I sometimes have teenages that will come to me and want a tattoo but are not really aware of what it means and how it's done. When you tell someone "Well imagine there is a line on your skin and they're gonna literally rip up your skin until the end of the line". They don't realise. They think it's just gonna sting a little bit. They have no idea how it's done. And yeah it's always the same kind of questions : "When are you gonna stop ?" "You really found it pretty ?" Aren't you affraid you're not gonna found a job ?"

Ah the famous one !

Yeah the famous one. I've been working for three years now and I've never had to hide my tattoos, my boss never asked me to hide them. Even when we organize fancy events. I'm always rolling up my sleeves because thanks to my disease my body struggles with keeping a stable temperature. And I never add any comment on my tattoos. When I was working at my old job, a colleague was covered in tattoos from the neck to the ankles. His heads and his head were the only blank spaces and it was never an issue. So yeah I think that slowly but surely it's started to be more accepted. But it's true that there are always gonna be people saying things like "But once you get old, it will look bad" that kind of thing...It's impossible to not hear those questions. They're almost classics. We could make a top of all the questions we hear most.

L : So for me, first I have a little anecdote that I found very amusing. It was cute because it wasn't mean or anything, it wasn't conscious. So once my fiance's grandmother took my arm (cause in my case I have a lot of tattoos, from my neck to my feet) and so she took my arm and started to strongly rub it to make it...To make it clean. And she asked me "But how are you gonna get rid of it ?" So I said "Well, I'm not, it's a tattoo not a drawing"

J : (giggles)

L : Oh she was horrified to learn that they would never disappear. So yeah that was the cute anecdote because it was innocent. But otherwise I didn't have a lot of people that touched my tattoos. Lucky for them or I would have...I would have exploded. But it's true that the inappropriate questions regarding the significations of the tattoos...It happens all the time "What does it mean ?" "Why there ?" "Why did you choose this specific artist ?" The worst kind of questions are the ones about the scars cover. First they're gonna ask me why I had those scars in the first place, and then they will ask why I choose this particular tattoo to cover that particular scar. And from there we enter a very personal part of my life, that I really don't want to share. And when you're taken by surprise like that, it can be difficult to avoid the question. Sometimes I just don't know what to say. Most of the time I just tell them that it's none of their business and that I don't wanna talk about it. But it's true that  like you said Justine, this "no filter" attitude that some people have. It can be so disturbing sometimes this capacity that they have to ask such personnal question to people they don't know, just because they see tattoos and think it give them the permission to as anything. Sometimes I just stay speechless.
When it comes to my work I've noticed some changes since my position changed. When I was working as a supervisor in a school, I had to hide my tattoos cause they were seen as inappropriate. But since I'm a counsellor, my position changed, so people don't look at me the way they used to. Often when people notice my tattoos, they probably think "Well that's weird, she's a Head School Counsellor and she got tattoos, I've never seen that before '' but because of my position they won't say anything. It says a lot about the way society sees tattoos and inked people. When you're a manager people won't make any comment but they will if you're just an employee. And that's something I found very upsetting.  I knock wood but since I'm a counsellor nobody made any comments on my tattoos, and I don't have to hide them. I mean, I'm not showing them like...I'm not showing up naked for work but I don't hide them like I used to. And it's true that it can have an educative aspect. Art teachers can use them as a support to work withs students on the shades of color, the tecnics, realism, neo traditional, all those things. So depending on how open minded people are, it can have a positive or a negative impact.

I have two little anecdotes about that subject...The first one was at Montpellier's Pride. So I was wearing shorts and out of nowhere two persons come to me and asked "Why is it in that position ?" Because the tattoo is in my direction so I can read it. So I tell them "Because I had it done for me" And before I had the time to add something, they said "No you had it done for us !" So once again I said "No I had it done for me" "Ok alright" and they left just like that. And it made me feel so...Yeah I don't even have words (giggles) I mean I went to Nantes to get that tattoo. I was living in Lyon at that time, I went from Lyon to Nantes, then there is the cost of the tattoo, the time it takes for the artist to make the tattoo, the train tickets, the accommodation...Everything. And then yeah sure I got the tattoo to please other people. And also no I didn't do it to show off to other people.  So yeah it was a very...Very confusing comment.

J : It's a bit like people who ask questions like : But aren't you afraid you're gonna regret it at some point ?" But we...We didn't wake up one morning and said "I'm gonna get that as a tattoo" after seeing a logo on the street. I mean sure some people do that, there are always trends like there is everywhere else. But generally, and especially with big pieces like that, you thought about it before and it really means something. And even if one day you end up regretting it, it's your arm

L : Even if in ten years you end up regretting it, if you decided to have it done at that specific moment, it's because it meant something for you at that time. You needed to do it. And if you regrette it in fifteen years, it's nobody's problem but yours. If you want to make it cover in fifteen years, it's up to you. And it's true that, like you said earlier Hermine...I feel like for some people when it comes to tattoos there is always something about showing off. It's just for the aesthetic, a way to get noticed. It never crosses their mind that it can be a therapeutic process. That's what it is for me. A therapeutic process in addition to my medical treatment. So yeah I'm a bit shocked by this question "Why is it in that position" It's so...It's so personal. Yeah a tattoo is something so personal and private. It's not the kind of question that someone should ask. We don't get...We don't get a tattoo to please other people. It's really for us, for our own well being. Yeah the real question is : Why in 2021 we still hear that kind of question ?

**Yeah definitely. And I have another anecdote. I was at a train station in the UK. I was in my wheelchair, getting into the lift. And then suddenly there is a lady with her buggi that comes behind me and...So I didn't see her coming...And then she suddenly bent over me and asked "Is that a tattoo ?" And I was wearing a skirt, and she almost lifted up my skirt to look at the tattoo. It was so invasive, I didn't see her coming...Yeah I really didn't like that moment

J : And what kind of question is that ? "Is that a tattoo ?" No it's a birthmark...I mean, it's obvious it's a tattoo !

L : And lift up someone's outfit without asking first, just to check an information, that you assume you need to know...When again you didn't even ask to the person if you could touch them...It's an incredible lack of respect

Yes exactly. Little reminder that consent does not disappear under the tattoos. It's still here and you need to ask before...Before doing anything really.

So next question : Did you have to deal with access issues or did a tattoo artist already said no when you wanted to get a tattoo?

J : For me no. I mean...Access issues, no. Like I said earlier I have an invisible disability. I can walk most of the time. Except that last time...It took so much time to make my last tattoo that I first went to a tattoo convention and then I had to go to the artist's shop. And I had to cross Belgium and then climb some old staircases. I struggle a little bit to climb up there. But apart from that I never had any issue. And say no to me...We already asked me if I was sure. And I asked myself the same question. Because after every tattoo session I experience chronic pain for at least two weeks. As if someone took my arm for a punching bag. But again that is a pain that I chose. I know what to expect. But say no to me for a tattoo. No it never happened. Because like I said it's invisible, so if I don't talk about it, nobody can guess. I talked about it a lot with the last tattoo artist because it was the subject of the tattoo. It had a strong anti-ableism meaning. So we talked a lot about my disability, about disability in general. But most of the time I don't talk about it, so I don't get a lot of questions.

L : It's a bit similar for me, as I also have an invisible disability, if I don't talk about it, nobody can guess. As long as I can walk on my own, having access to the shops is not a problem to me. And I've been very lucky to only meet safe tattoo artists so far. They were all very understanding, because I take time to explain the significance, to really find the right tattoo artist, who's really gonna understand the meaning and what I want, so they can do the best job possible.
Recently my tattoos all had a connexion with bipolar disorder or borderline personality so the tattoo artist had to take it in consideration. And he was very comprehensive, it didn't ask any inappropriate questions, he was perfect really. But it wasn't that easy for my mother in law...She went to that same shop, and had difficulties walking on her own because she just had a knee surgery. And the tattoo artist works in the basement. You have to go down two floors...So we had to ask ourselves how she was gonna go down...And recently, the last shop I went to...You can't even enter the shop when you're a wheelchair user, because the door is not large enough. So yeah I would say that the access for folks with an invisible disability is not an issue, but for others with a visible disability like wheelchair users, the access is impossible, at least in that shop. I already saw some people in wheelchairs being "welcome" on the street. It's very questionable to say the least..When you think in terms of equality and respect, the level is very low...

J : It's true that, now that I think about it. All the shops that I know and have been to here in Belgium. They're always looking for that "vintage" aesthetic, and vintage very often means, some old  inaccessible stuff like an old rotten staircase in the corner...Personally, I never got a tattoo during a very painful time where I needed to use my wheelchair, so the access was pretty easy. But when I think about some of my friends, they couldn't go to the places I usually go.

Yeah here's another important reminder : Tattoo shops also have accessibility issues. For example, for my last tattoo I had to climb two floors because it was old building with no lift. And I could do it because....Well I use a wheelchair but I can walk a little bit. And I could do it because the tattooist helped me. But when we finally arrived in the shop, I was exhausted. And if I want to workout I go to physical therapy I don't go get a tattoo

J : Exactly (giggles)

(giggles) So yeah there are still a lot of issues surrounding accessibility, and I'm not asking this question "by accident". Fat people and people of color have to face a lot of discrimination in the tattooing world. Some tattooists refuse to tattoo them. You can read a lot of stories like that on social media that are so revolting...

What are your next tattoo project if you have any ?

J : It's hard for me to answer this, because originally I wanted to cover both of my arms, I had a lot of ideas. But the tattoo I was talking about earlier really drained me, I was in a lot of pain and I thought "Never again". It's a huge piece that covers my entire shoulder...There is a little character in a wheelchair with "Yesabled" written on it instead of "Disabled". Then there is my crutch, on top of it there is a broken cup that looks a little bit like Zip in the Beauty and the Beast with a little dark thing from the Ghibli Universe inside the cup. And on top of it there is a big infusion bag filled with rose petals that are a reminder of my wife's engagement ring. Everything on a sheet of paper with light blue lines, because I'm a journalist...Anyway, it's a really big piece that took a lot of time to be done, and it was really painful. That's why after this one I started to think "Never again" like we sometimes do. But slowly but surely I'm starting to change my mind again. I'm starting to miss the needle... But I have so many ideas that it's hard to find who's really meaningful. I really want to take my time and find a project that really makes sense to me. And I think this lockdown era is not the best for me to think clearly. I'm too tired to properly think about what I want at the moment. So I kind of took a break from tattoos at least for now, and also because I don't exactly have the money at the moment. We don't always realize how expensive it can be. So yeah I still have a lot of projects in mind, because I still have some space on my arms and even a completely naked shoulder (giggles) but they're just in my mind for now, until I'm sure that I found the right message.

L : So for me, if I had to tell you about all the projects that I have in mind, we clearly wouldn't have enough time. I'm gonna go to Spain in August to get my left arm done. It's a "Fall" theme, so there is an owl, and an elephant on my left arm, and I'm gonna get it done with a fox and a squirrel. And I'm gonna start a very important project at the end of this year. Which is connected with my double diagnosis. I'm gonna get a Yin & Yang  of black and white bats from my knee to my thigh. So with dark bats that represent the down phases, and white bats that represent the up phases. And both of them together represent that balance that we're looking for when with the medical treatments when we have bipolar disorder. It's my next big project, which is gonna take 2 days of work. And it means a lot to me now that I finally have the diagnosis and that I realize a lot of things on how my brain and my body have been working for years. And I really need this tatto to totally accept the diagnosis and move on with my life. I'm really looking forward to getting this tattoo.

So now it's time for the famous last question which is the cultural recommendation question. Do you have any cultural recommendation about disability, or tattoos or maybe both at the same time...Even if I don't think it exist, but we never know

J : If Belgians or even French people want to take time to go there, I want to recommend the tattooist who made my last tattoo. @mpatshi. M-P-A-T-S-H-I who's really comitted against animal cruelty, for veganism and that kind of things. She moved into another shop so you need to follow her a little bit on social media, but we talked a lot about my project, and she's really nice. So yeah, that would be a recommendation. And about disability...I just want to say : Take in consideration everything that is produced by disabled people. There is this book called "I'll figure it out" :  How ableism impacts disabled people's lives" written by Marina Carlos. Who talks about a lot of things like fashion, culture...It's a small book but so important. The first time I read it was like "It's so great to have someone who puts words, who gives numbers...And even what you're doing here with this podcast. It feels great to have people, disabled people who talk about those topics. Because I'm so tired that we always put people who work in organisations, in institutions under the spotlight...Cause yeah they work with disabled people but they're still ableds. And in the meanwhile nobody's listening to us. So yeah, everytime that there is something that is done by disabled people. Recently Elisa Rojas also published a novel...People who really know what they're talking about, that have a voice who's important, and that really know what it means to be disabled like I think we all do here in our own way. So yeah that's what I want to say : Listen to us. Search for our work, no matter what shape of form...Books, podcasts...We know that when it comes to movies there is still a lot of work to do...It's starting to change, but we're not there yet. But yeah, just listen to us.

I actually recommended Elisa Rojas book's in the first episode of the podcast. And Lea do you have any recommendation ?

L : So recently on Netflix I've seen a film called Crazy About Her, who talks about bipolar disorder. So yeah I recommend this one because I can easily relate to it. It's pretty rare to see a film which talks about this disorder so openly. Of course it's not perfect and there are a lot of things to say but at least it's mentioned and talked about. I find it pretty well made. Then there are instagram accounts that are pretty interesting and do a lot of prevention work like : planetepsy.troublesbipolaires who's an account managed by physiatrie students and their teacher. For a tattoo recommendation I would say the artist @poulby_tattoo who's based in Bordeaux. I never had the chance to meet her but she tries to be as inclusive as possible, and bring awareness around the different body types, the different disabilities...You were talking about different skin color, tattoos on all kinds of skin color. She joins events like Transcendance where the goal is to tattoo trans people who had a mastectomy during their transition. So yeah she takes in really interesting events. She has a deep sensibility and is truly amazing as a human being. She also does a lot of prevention. And she organizes those sessions of "I give, you take" it's not tattoo related but it's a way to help her community by offering them services. Either it's about mental health or a more material subject, or just if you want to find someone to have a chat...And thanks to her services I met a lot of people who also had bipolar disorder and we were able to connect, learn about one another, create a connexion, and feel less lonely. So by being an inclusive tattoo artist she gives the ability to people to own their bodies and by being inclusive and just human she gives them the ability to accept themselves and accept others, while doing a lot of prevention work...So yeah if I had just one tattoo artist to recommend today, it would be @poulby_tattoo.

OK that sounds amazing. It's so cool, I love tattoos even more now. Thank you so much both of you for taking part in this episode. It was very interesting and I can't wait for everybody to listen to it because it's...It's such an important message, a true reminder that tattoos can help, and bring people together. Yeah, I had a great time

L : Thank you for proposing the idea

J : Yeah thank you for this opportunity to think and talk about it. I hadn't thought about my tattoos and their meaning in a while, so it was a nice opportunity.

L : Thank you for your work Hermine

And thank you for listening to this new episode of H comme Handicapé.e.s. Thanks again to Justine and Lea for their participation. If you enjoyed the episode, don't hesitate to share it and let me know what you think of it. I really like to read all your feedback. Until then the next episode will be out on May 10th and we will talk about being vegetarian or vegan when you're disabled.

Cultural recommendations :

Book : "I'll figure it out : How ableism impacts disabled people's lives" (2020)
Written by Marina Carlos
Available on Amazon

Film : Crazy About Her (2021)
Directed by Dani de la Orden
Available on Netflix

Tattooists :

@poulby_tattoo @nag.tatouages@mpatshi @landrogynette