sixI just have to point you to this picture of Jessica Pikul’s tattoo, which I saw on The Loom blog today.

It is an image of one of the segments of the gluten protein that coeliacs can’t digest, placed in front of a spacescape.

Jessica’s explanation of the tattoo is that it is describes the ‘universality of the physical laws that govern the microscopic and the macroscopic’.

I’m not quite sure what she means, but one meaning could be that she (living, breathing, thinking, complex being) can’t escape her genes … and it started me thinking.

Why would you want a tattoo? (I’m just squeamish)

Why would you want an image of a gluten molecule on your thigh? (It is rather beautiful – but unusual!)

What is the link that Jessica sees?

Is she as open about being a celiac as she is about displaying her tattoo to the world?

This is the best I could come up with. Jessica – if you’re reading this – please explain?

Six reasons why having coeliac disease is like having a tattoo:

  • Like a tattoo, coeliac disease is forever

    Yes, you can ‘erase’ a tattoo with surgery – and you can ‘erase’ the symptoms of coeliac disease with a gluten free diet, but you will still be aware of the rubbing-out.

  • Like a tattoo, coeliac disease is something people will notice and comment on

    A tattoo is a choice, of course, which may mean that you are happier to have it discussed in public, but I bet it gets wearing, just like comments on your ‘funny diet’.

  • Both can be hidden – but not in all situations

    Depending on where your tattoo is on your body – and the social situation you find yourself in – you may be able to hide the tattoo/your coeliac disease. But eventually you will have to reveal it, though you can perhaps choose when and how to make the revelations.

  • Both make a change in the way you (and others) perceive your body

    A tattoo is often an aesthetic choice, and as such something you desire and believe will enhance your image. Coeliac disease is, of course, no choice at all. But both make a difference to how you feel about your body.

  • Both involve tiny changes that make a big difference

    Coeliac disease is internal, and a tattoo is external, but both involve tiny changes at cellular level that add up to make a big difference to the person involved

  • Both make you different from the norm

    Both a tattoo and coeliac disease make you unusual. Not unique, because there are others who have tattoos or coeliac disease, but unusual enough to stand out from the crowd. Certainly different enough to be outside the mass market trends …

I wonder how many other coeliacs there are with tattoos – and whether there is anyone else at all who has tattooed the gluten protein onto their bodies?

I suspect that Jessica may be unique in this, at least.