Desiree Yanez's impeccable hair is no match for her flawless tattoos. The 22-year-old hair stylist at Esoterica Salon in Fort Worth has dedicated pretty much her entire body to the art of tattoos. Her knuckles bare the words "Pish Posh" in delicate cursive and can only be read when held closed. "Something my mom used to say," Yanex says. She "never cussed, so instead of saying 'bullshit' she'd say 'pish posh.'"
Yanez's right arm is covered in a memorial for her parents. "This arm is kind of my dark fantasy," she says. "I lost my parents a year ago and I kind of have a screwed-up life so this lets me kind of tell my story."
Her fantasyland is made up of winding forest-green vines and roots, all encompassed under a giant cracked skull, which she says represent death. Peeking in and out of her twisted fairytale are small rats.
"I have rats on my arm but not too many people know much about rats," she says. "They just think they're disgusting creatures, but they can survive through anything. They'll eat their way through anything just to get to their destination."
On the top of her right shoulder is a bottle of love poison leaking out onto her sleeve. "I think love is a poison ... you end up hating who you love anyways."
Rounding the corner is a zombie portrait resting on her right collarbone. Yanez calls her "Juanita." She says she got Juanita during a trip to New York from a well-known portrait artist. She asked for a zombie, and this is what he came up with.
On the opposing side is a knife slicing through big puffs of buttery popcorn. She says her father had given her a knife before she moved to Dallas when she was 18. "It's a memorial tattoo for him. His nickname was popcorn. He only had one tattoo on his body: the word 'popcorn.'"
Her left sleeve is a tribute to her family and the people she's lost.
Perched on her bicep are two sophisticated-looking owls, one in a top hat the other with a pink bow. She says the pair represents her parents. "She was like an owl collector -- different animals, I don't remember them but I remember the smell. My mom used to sing so she's sitting under a microphone, and my dad played harmonica so the boy owl is sitting under a harmonica."
The inside of her arm is a myriad of games and candy. "This is like my childhood we used to play cards, ya' know, little Mexican family. ... We always had candy on Saturdays, that was our treat and we played spiny-top, jacks, the whole old-school crap."
At the bottom of her arm is a gold pocket watch interwoven around purple roses. It's for her grandfather. Yanez says he has also passed and had requested purple roses at his funeral.
"The pocket watch, well that's a funny story," she says. "He'd always pull it out and click it open and look what time it was and throw back in his pocket. It was so awesome. It was gold and beautiful and it's what I remember about him the most."
Yanez says it means a lot to her because when he died the watch mysteriously disappeared and no one seems to know what happened. Her family believes maybe he buried it before he died, or it was stolen.
Tattooed on her right side is a lifeless tree with the script "watch me grow" bannered underneath the barren roots. She says this was her second tattoo and most painful. She got the tree when her parents first became ill. "Even though I feel dead sometimes, I'm always going to keep growing."
The top of her thigh displays a freaky-looking eyeball she says he just got on a whim.
The outside of her right thigh is an old-school pistol she got for a best friend.
Lastly, her calves have what she calls the cutest cupcake ever and a diamond she got with a former girlfriend. She says they went to a sketchy guy and at first she thought something was wrong with the tattoo. "When I got [it] my ankle was the size of a grapefruit and I thought he diseased me. 'Oh my God, HPV here we go' but it turned out OK and I'm HPV free."
Most of her work has been done at Last Angels and Elm Street Tattoo. Yanez aspires to one day be completely covered from the neck down in tattoos.
"It's a commitment and I think that's why I keep doing it because I want to stay committed to something for once in my life so I just keep going," she says. "I like it, I enjoy it."