Tyra Banks called Jessica White the “model of her generation.” She’s graced the runways of Oscar de la Renta, campaigns for Maybelline, and Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issues, and is working on a documentary and memoir/self-help book. For her INKED photo shoot, Jessica said she didn’t want to wear high fashion—or even a bikini. “This will be the last time I pose nude before I move on to other projects in my life,” she says. “I think the INKED readers—those in the tattoo community—understand my message and I want to share the real me, bare, stripped down and tattooed.”
Jessica says she first started getting ink when she was in a bad place mentally. “I wanted to self-mutilate to feel alive again, but being a model I couldn’t become a cutter,” she says. Instead she tattooed her body in places that wouldn’t greatly hinder her ability to book work. Even when clients didn’t want a model with tattoos, they still wanted Jessica, so they worked around it. When she was turned down because of her ink, she was upset but never regretted being tattooed. “My tattoos are that important to me,” she says. As Jessica became more comfortable in her own skin, she continued to get tattoos but in an apprecitation for body art, expressing herself in a different way.
Poetry is another outlet, and she derives the same release when her pen hits the paper that she does when the tattoo needle hits her skin. The resulting work—including the pieces she shares with INKED on these pages—is powerful and beautiful, like Jessica herself.