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Roll Flower Tattoos Carrie Metz-Caporusso
Courtesy of Carrie Metz-Caporusso

These flower tattoos are designed to celebrate body rolls

TextAlex Peters

In an industry where fat people have been shamed and excluded, tattoo artist Carrie Metz-Caporusso brings forth the beauty of fat bodies

There was a period of time, says tattoo artist Carrie Metz-Caporusso, when every person who sat in her chair expressed a desire for a tattoo on their back – but only once they had lost some weight first. As someone who is fat with multiple back and tummy tattoos that she loves, these caveats really bothered her. “My tattoos make me feel great about myself and I wanted others to feel that way too,” she says. “I thought if I could design something only for fat people, that highlighted the things society says is a flaw, maybe I could change some minds.” So she sat down and sketched until she came up with an idea: roll flowers. 

The tattoo industry can often be a pretty toxic place. Historically dominated by white, cishet men, it’s seen many accusations of sexual assault, racism, and misogyny over the years. This homogenous nature has also created an atmosphere rife with fatphobia, says Metz-Caporusso, who has been tattooing professionally since 2013. “It’s impossible to see fat tattooed bodies online. There’s zero designs that are particularly for fat folks and most famous tattoo accounts only share thin, white bodies,” she says. “The lack of representation is wild.”

This gulf in representation and subsequent lack of designs made to complement bodies that aren’t thin or muscular have created a mindset where people feel invisible and unwelcome in the industry and unable to get tattooed until they look a certain way. Metz-Caporusso’s roll flower tattoos combat this directly. Delicate and graceful, the intricate floral designs are custom-made to fit in and around the creases of body rolls, proudly highlighting and celebrating an aspect of the body we are so often taught to feel ashamed of.

After coming up with the initial concepts for the design, Metz-Caporusso posted an open call asking if anyone wanted to get their rolls tattooed. The response was good (“about 10 people responded, I was so stoked”) but it was when she posted the first tattooed back that things really started to blow up. “People from everywhere were sharing my art, it was amazing! After that I knew this was gonna be something that spoke to a lot of people,” she says. “Many folks have told me it makes them cry to see bodies like theirs represented. I’m just overwhelmed by the love and support folks have for me and this project.” 

To get a roll flower tattoo clients must have defined rolls that are visible while standing. Each design is custom-made, with Metz-Caporusso using pictures of the client to map the shapes out onto the body and make sure it fits. When she stencils on the design, precision is key. “It takes a few shots to get all the components to match the reference. If each piece doesn’t line up correctly the illusion of the crease making the stem doesn’t work,” she explains. The tattooing process can take anywhere from 4 to 6 hours.

For anyone whose tastes lie outside of floral designs, there are plenty of other options as well. Earlier this year, Metz-Caporusso did a piece that incorporated the line of a roll into a picturesque lake scene, and she recently posted a concept of beautiful swirling waves emerging and flowing with the rolls. “The possibilities for fat roll tattoos are endless. I plan on continuing to push myself and come up with more concepts to celebrate fat bodies and I encourage others to join me!” 

Ultimately, she hopes that the tattoos will send a message not just of body positivity but of body neutrality and, like so many others in the increasingly vocal movement, fat acceptance. “I hope when people see my work they realise that being fat isn’t bad, or even good for that matter. It just is. And you don’t need to change yourself to start enjoying your life, just start living. You’ll be glad you did.”

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