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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Berkeley chapter.

I booked a tattoo appointment in April.

If you’d like to know, it’s a cherry blossom. They have been my favorite flowers since I was little. There is something delicate and elegant about them that says “put me on your body forever,” and I eventually gave in.  

When I think of the way that I have handled the issue of my own coming of age, it is striking how strongly I have resisted change. In terms of who I am, I have gladly accepted growth and even tried to force it upon myself. I have tried and failed and tried again to become better than I was before, but I have not offered the same grace to my body up until recently. 

I cut my hair that I used to keep long because I was convinced that without it, I wouldn’t be pretty enough. I refused to have it any shorter than my shoulders despite the years of damage from overbrushing, straightening and bleach that I used to maintain the color I’d had for the first ten or so years of my life. The body that I despised because it doesn’t look like it did as a child, lithe and small, is now forgiven for all that it is and all that it will be in the years to come.

I spent so much time trying to maintain the semblance of how I used to be, when looking back, it has been a privilege to age, and to continue to be alive.

It makes me think about how I am not the only one — how there is a force greater than ourselves that wants us to believe that we are nothing if we are not conventionally beautiful.

I struggled because of the dissonance between my attitude towards my mind and body. Even now I am unsure that the way I have chosen to represent myself is the correct one, but right now I am letting go of constant inner criticism. I am growing out my dark hair and healing its waves. I am allowing myself to eat because my body is the only one that I have. I also know that growth is not linear and one day I might have to begin all over again. 

Original Illustration by Gina Escandon for Her Campus Media

So, I decided on my first tattoo — the cherry blossom, as a symbol of renewal and also of what I carry with me as I choose to let go of the things I can never be again.

Elyse Brown

UC Berkeley '25

I am a sophomore at UC Berkeley studying Sociology. I am a Junior Editor at Her Campus and I love to write poems, long fiction, and person essays.