Why I Think Twice Before I Discuss My ED Recovery Tattoos

I have a few tattoos that symbolize the path I walked to heal from an eating disorder (ED). Some are more recognizable than others, but all of them are meaningful to me. However, with that being said, I've recently started to think twice before I discuss these ED recovery tattoos with acquaintances—or even friends—who ask about them.

I realize this might sound oxymoronic. After all, I stamped my own body in permanent ink with a visible representation of my healing, so shouldn't I be willing to answer the occasional questions that come with it? I am not ashamed of the eating disorder journey I have taken, nor do I want to seem evasive. But there are a few particular reasons why I choose to be selective about who I discuss my ED recovery tattoos with.  

3 Questions I Consider Before Discussing My ED Recovery Tattoos

Before I discuss my ED recovery tattoos with someone, I run through three basic questions in my head. These considerations help me clarify if it's a responsible conversation to have. This all comes down to my inner motive for sharing—is it for the other person's benefit or for my own self-gratuitous need for external validation? Here are the questions I ask myself to parse out whether discussing ED recovery tattoos is helpful or harmful:  

  1. Am I oversharing to compensate for an unresolved insecurity? There's a difference between sharing with the intention to be vulnerable and authentic, versus sharing to appear resilient and tough in the face of adversity. If I divulge personal information about myself because I want to communicate my strength to the other person and keep my insecurities hidden beneath the surface, then I am oversharing.  
  2. Could this information potentially trigger the other person? If I suspect that someone might have their own body image issues or eating disorder histories, it would be careless and insensitive of me to discuss my ED tattoos with them. I never want to trigger harmful behaviors or anxious thoughts in another person, so if eating disorder conversation topics make them uncomfortable, I need to be cognizant of this.
  3. Do I want affirmation more than I want to be of help or service? If I can discuss my ED recovery tattoos through a lens that offers genuine hope or benefit to someone else, then I will consider sharing. But if the real underlying objective is to extract affirmation or empathy from the other person, this indicates that my reason for sharing is primarily self-centered. An ulterior motive is always a sign that I should think twice.  

Do you have a tattoo that represents your own path to eating disorder recovery? Are you selective about who you reveal the meaning behind this tattoo with? Do you feel it's important and beneficial to think twice before discussing ED recovery tattoos? Please share your insights on this topic in the comment section. 

APA Reference
Schurrer, M. (2022, May 4). Why I Think Twice Before I Discuss My ED Recovery Tattoos, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 20 from

Author: Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

Connect with Mary-Elizabeth on Facebook, Instagram and her personal blog.

Leave a reply