Interview with blogger Pale Ginger Pear |

We’ve been following Cara, AKA Pale Ginger Pear, on Instagram for a while. She talks openly and honestly about illness (she has lipedema and lymphedema), being fat and tattooed. We caught up with her to find out more – spoiler alert, she loves Disney tattoos as much as we do.

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076B09ED-0C9C-4FA7-9FA2-F67A696A679FTell us about your tattoo collection. When was your first? My first tattoo was a tiny roll of film on my left shoulder, it was done by Tyree Patrick of Big Nerd Tattoos – he is the only person I have been tattooed by. I had it done in the fall of 2002 shortly after finishing schooling for photography. Pretty quickly after that I added a camera to the right shoulder.

In 2006, I added some CD artwork. Then I took a few years off from getting inked. Before adding my gluten-free baking logo to my right wrist in 2013 (I am a celiac). July 15, 2014, my mom’s birthday (five years after she passed), I got a Wicked Witch and Flying Monkey from her favourite movie on my left arm in her memory. I remember thinking the Oz tattoo was big! In typical Ty fashion, he started talking to me about my next tattoo while tattooing me. The idea of an Ursula and Cruella half sleeve formed – which eventually evolved into my Disney Villain sleeve. As we were wrapping up the Disney Villain sleeve, he asked “what next?” I mentioned that the only other thing I liked enough for years was The Muppets. Next thing I know I was scheduled to start the thigh piece the following month. 

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What do you like about getting – and being – tattooed? I love getting tattooed. I enjoy the pain as crazy as that sounds. I jokingly call it “ink therapy”. Ty has been a sounding board during many sessions about all the crazy DMs and offers I receive (one guy even asked to buy my pubes). Ty has also been great at helping me ramble about possible ways to grow Pale Ginger Pear.

I love how being tattooed makes me feel. I know my tattoos are pretty amazing so it’s an easy way for me to brush off people staring at me. In my head I justify it to myself that they are looking at my ink not my fat arm.

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Do you have any more tattoo plans?  The Muppet thigh piece isn’t complete yet. There’s a spot above Swedish Chef beside Bunsen that I feel there is room for another Muppet. There will be some touch-ups and background added too, for sure. Other than finishing that, I don’t really have any plans for more ink. I like the contrast of one arm inked and the other pale and freckled. As much as that drives Ty crazy to be “unbalanced” and not take advantage of all that great “real estate”. We have talked about doing a pear with a tattoo on it but I can’t picture where it would be placed. 

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You are very open on social media about your illnesses and your size, do you think instagram transparency is important? How do you hope to inspire others? I think transparency is important to a degree. I keep my kid and my dating life (for the most part) off of my IG. I don’t feel they factor into what I’m trying to show about lipedema/lymphedema. It’s nice to have somethings about my life as mine that can’t be judged and picked apart. I already judge myself enough for being a single mom, I don’t need strangers adding to my self doubt. I also don’t post my weight as I don’t feel the actual number is going to change anything for the person reading it. People carry weight differently so my number might look different on other people, but it doesn’t change my conditions.

I hope to inspire people, especially women with lipedema and lymphedema, to embrace their body as it is. There is no reason to not wear the little black dress while wearing your compression stockings or showing off your large upper arms, thanks to lipedema.

Can you tell me what having lymphedema and lipedema means, and how it affects you day to day? Lymphedema is where the lymph fluid flows down but, in my case, doesn’t flow back up from my lower legs properly. The lymph flow pools in my lower legs causing swelling. I wear compression stockings daily to keep the swelling to a minimum. If I don’t, my legs feel super tight, almost like they can explode. Lipedema is when fat cells absorb lymph fluid, damaging the cells causing it to not react to diet or exercise like typical fat cells. Lipedema is a dull constant ache. It also is very sensitive to the touch and bruises easily. It hurts if I try to sit in a tight seat where the arms can’t be adjusted.

When were you diagnosed? I was diagnosed in 2008 with lower leg lymphedema. It wasn’t until about 2016 that I was told I had lipedema as well. Then it wasn’t ’til 2018 that I found out lipedema was the cause of my bigger upper arms. I had originally been told that it was just hips/thighs/buttocks. Lipedema is more frustrating to me because there isn’t much relief for it, short of liposuction to remove the damaged fat cells. But most US insurances don’t cover the cost of the liposuction as they view it as cosmetic.

Does it affect you getting tattooed? Lymphedema areas can’t be tattooed, which is why my Muppet piece will be just on my thigh. Cuts or injections are to be avoided as lymph fluid will leak out of the opening and can be difficult to heal. Before I started my thigh 6D8DD8B4-E490-466B-9EFC-5CED267A500Dpiece, I reached out to some specialists in lipedema asking about tattoos. They had no real information or studies on it. Basically, the replies back were: “Not really sure, but if you go through with it, update us afterwards.” It wasn’t until mid-summer last year that I realised I had already tattooed on lipedema damaged area with Ursula. It made a lot more sense looking back at how Ursula was harder to heal and seemed to be “too wet.” My thigh has been really tender during the actual tattooing. My skin puffs and pinks up in the lipedema areas pretty quickly and makes it more difficult for Ty to see the saturation of the ink. It also seeps lymph fluid, which can be annoying.

4C5C3166-DE34-4E48-82BC-9F11F8FF1D62Healing the thigh has been interesting. There is a very fine line of just enough ointment to keep it from being dry and cracking and too much that keeps it too wet that doesn’t allow it to scab over. The lymph fluid can cause some deep scabs which are really painful and sore. Ursula and The Muppets have been harder to heal than any of my other tattoos but not bad enough that it keeps me from completing my vision.

There are a lot of fat shamers online, how do you respond to haters? I tend to ignore the hate. I believe that they are just hurting, so they want people to hurt with them. There’s been a time or two that I’ve responded if I felt I could explain something in more detail to them. 

What made you start blogging and instagramming as Pale Ginger Pear? I started my IG (and website) as the result of a bet with someone very dear to me. “Schmidt” had felt that I would get a lot of followers due to dressing well for my size/shape and having a story to tell. I thought he was crazy. We playfully bantered back and forth about it. February 11 2018 I decided to start PGP Instagram to prove him wrong and for the longest time I thought I was. I remember hitting 50k and his reply was: “So no followers…”

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I often hear women say they don’t want to get tattooed on the parts of their body that they hate, but to me, tattoos are about owning your body and feeling happier in your skin in a way you can control, do you feel that too?  I NEVER used to show my arms. I hated how different my upper arms were in comparison to my forearms. But now I get so bummed when it starts to get cold again and I have to cover up my arm. I used to hide my legs and rarely wore dresses. Now I find myself picking out skirts or dresses, so when people talk to me about my tattoos, I can show them the Muppet thigh piece. My ink has helped me embrace my size and condition, things that I can’t really change. I feel more me with the brightly coloured ink than I ever did before. 

We feel that too. Follow Pale Ginger Pear on Insta and check out her blog.

 

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