Session One: Nate Kostechko Stole My Belly Button
08:20 AM
DSCN0451.JPGI'm off on an Internet-free yoga retreat so my friends are taking over. Check Chris Stauber's account of her latest self-transformation and tattoo by Nathan Kostechko.

By Chris Stauber.

On January 1, 2002, I embarked, with the immense support and assistance from my spouse, Peter, on a journey of self change. My mother-in-law had recently overcome a battle with cancer and was encouraged by her physician in turn to make additional lifestyle changes that equated to surprisingly effective weight loss. This inspired both my husband and I to get off our asses and do something about our ever expanding waistlines. Using at first diet and then the powerful combination of diet and exercise, I lost about fifty pounds the first year. In the second year, I pushed on to lose another thirty pounds. From the day I started, I have lost and kept off ninety-six pounds. A lot changes in your body with that sort of dramatic weight loss.

While I was proud of my success and the lifestyle changes I made over the seven year journey, my years of carelessness had left me with a body I could not embrace. Dramatic weight loss leaves you with fun stuff like stretch marks and loose skin. It was something I knew I did to myself but knowing that did not help my inhibitions go away. In speaking with a fellow Virgo tattoo companion and close friend, Tim Creed, I received some great advice. He told me he had personally had great success effectively covering his own stretch marks and skin damage with ink. Tattooing can seemingly turn over the skin and retighten some of the dimpling in it as well.

About two months ago, I decided it was time to reward myself for the seven years of hard work and endless treadmill miles. I contacted Nathan Kostechko through his website about my idea of covering myself in desert plant life & scenery. Since living in Las Vegas, I have fallen in love with the desert terrain. To provide Nate with some inspiration, I started taking photographs of the desert land's cactus life, trees and flowers while hiking out at Red Rock Canyon. I knew I had found the right artist when Nate told me "he could make my body look however I wanted it look." We worked out the loose concept and set the appointment date.


Now it is difficult to make some one understand the amount of shame and self loathing I had for my own body, but imagining the process of exposing my torso in a tattoo shop would about send me into a panic attack. I carefully thought about what I could wear to make the process easy on the artist while maintaining some sort of self dignity for myself.  Some how I decided on a t-shirt and bikini bottoms that untied at the side for easy skin surface area access.  It had been 20 years since I had seen myself in a two piece but I guess this was the right time if ever.

Nate had a sketch ready to go when we arrived. His shop isn't officially open yet so there were no other artists or foot traffic to concern me. He drew directly on the skin using the standard bad ass only technique of light to dark sharpies. I have learned over the years to trust an artist and when you pick the right artist you are immensely rewarded for that trust. Nate managed to take my seemingly loose concept and sum it up in both the sketch and then again on my flesh. The tattoo was bigger and better than I ever imagined. After about 7 hours of tattooing I found myself in awe. The stretch marks were practically gone. Anything flawed was unnoticeable in comparison to the beautiful art.

The way I see it this is only the beginning of this tattoo journey but I am already ready to go back for more. I am not only proud of myself for all the lifestyle changes and success I have had but now I am proud of my body as well.

Now where did Nate put my belly button?


wait, no, seriously... where is it!? Did he tattoo it?

He didn't tattoo in my belly button per say but Nate put a purple shadow from the branch right above it and up to the edge. It totally dissapears in the shadow. And I wiped purple ink out of my belly button for days...

Chris the tattoo is beautiful and congratulations on your continued success throughout your journey!

He has some skills! I don't see it at all!

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