Photo: Maria José Cristerna
Hard to look at for some, impossible not to stare for others, the body of this lawyer from México tells a story of overcoming domestic violence, and finding an identity through body modification.
María José Cristerna comes from a family of lawyers in Guadalajara. “My family was and is deeply Catholic; I went to catholic school, I fell in love, got married in white at 17, followed a career. I wanted to make things right.”
Following devastating and systematic episodes of abuse from her ex-husband, she decided to turn her life around, reinvent herself and become the vampire woman.
Her body, tells her story. Every tattoo, piercing and modification tells a part of her story, of the things she did and changed to provide for her four children.
Using her body as a canvas, and her voice to reach other mistreated women and empower them to not take abuse from anyone, Maria José is certainly an example of persistence, overcoming adversity and courage.
Despite her frightening appearance and her turbulent life story, María José sees herself as a normal person.
“I am a normal stay at home mom, a woman also dedicated to tattooing, body art, I do suspension shows, but at the same time I try to help and empower other women who have been abused, because I come from domestic abuse” she says.
María josé got her first piercing at age twelve, her first tattoo at 14, and hasn’t stopped since. She says she stopped counting long ago how many tattoos and other body modifications she has had “about 95% of my body, the left over space is for like, fillers, backgrounds, you know? Like a canvas painting.” She has tattoos all over, multiple piercings where even the most daring would only think to put one, her ears are gauged, and she even has titanium implants in her forehead simulating horns; these were done without anesthetics, and she says she wants a couple more, on the back of her head.