about love hard

hi, my name is jes, and i started this thing.

a couple of summers ago, i was working in retail – so many of us do, given the lack of industries openly accepting of visible tattoos and modifications right now. one random morning, i helped this woman find a pair of vans for her son, and before leaving my store she just had to say something. she proceeded to ask me, “how can you do that to yourself?” politely, i responded with, “excuse me?” she told me, “you’re so pretty, why would you put all that garbage on your body?” not being new to a situation like this one, i very calmly explained, “THIS IS ART, AND I’M A COLLECTOR,” to which she brashly said, “art belongs on a wall; this is trash.” other nuggets she felt the need to include in this conversation were “how are you going to feel when you’re my age and you look like me with all that junk on you” and “how are you going to get a man to love you looking like that.” smiling, i told her “i’ll never regret any of it; WHAT’S THE POINT OF LIFE IF YOU’RE JUST GOING TO REGRET IT?” my calm demeanor obviously set her off, because she stormed off in a huff; but not before concluding my morning by telling me, “this is repulsive, i can hardly stand to look at you.” …i assume she was also racist.

when i started love hard, i didn’t have the idea of turning it into any sort of brand. it was a message i wanted to spread; IT’S A MOVEMENT, and a state of mind. too often, too many of us have our books judged by their covers. we have grown far too accustomed to hearing trite dribblings like “you’ll regret that tattoo when you’re older” and “you’ll never get a real job looking like that.” …so what?! some people don’t want to spend 9-5 behind a desk, some people don’t want to blend into the crowd. pretty sure there’s nothing actually wrong with that. it’s not about taking the easiest route through life. why should it be? anything worth really having is worth working for, worth fighting for. and if you’re willing to fight for it – for what you want, and what you want to be – THEN YOU SHOULD BE WILLING TO FIGHT DIRTY for it.

in the ‘90s, people like us were called “freaks.” but BEING MODIFIED DOESN’T MAKE US MONSTERS. we aren’t what people think we are; we aren’t trash, delinquents, criminals, damaged or broken individuals mothers never want their children growing up to be. our outsides don’t change our insides. alternative is just our lifestyle, and INK IS JUST ANOTHER SKIN COLOR. that’s what our little friend – our little mascot – proves to us. i call him punkshine bear. he’s bright-eyed and all smiles; he’s not mean or scary, even a little bit, despite his stretched ears and face tattoos. he’s still just as cuddly and sweet as he ever could be. and so are we.

the last couple of years have been huge for us. we’ve made a ton of amazing new friends from all over the country, and we’ve developed an awesomely fun and loving community. so many artists, musicians, and bands have climbed on board with the movement we’ve started to promote our message: LABELS ARE FOR RECORDS. these band guys and gals have donated their commitment and their images to us to be included in what we call our *ROCKSTAR* project. punkshine isn’t the only tattooed teddy bear now. this project means the world to us because it allows us the proceeds to donate to organizations that are very near and dear to us, helping to spread the word worldwide about pride, looking to stomp out self-harm and suicide often precipitated by body issues and bullying. we are not embarrassed, and we are not embarrassing. we are people and deserve to be treated as such. actions have been taken to move for acceptance of tattoos and piercings in the workplace, in the military, as parents… we have no reason to not celebrate ourselves. everywhere. period.

THERE IS NO SHAME. there is only pride. so be proud – every body is beautiful.