Two Langley moms are among several contestants vying for a $25,000-cash prize in a well-known tattoo magazine’s cover girl contest – something they both describe as being outside their level of comfort.
Rhonda McInnes, 43, lost her father nearly 25 years ago to suicide and alcoholism. McInnes herself previously suffered from depression.
Now the dental assistant is celebrating being three years sober.
“Over the last three years I’ve become more confident,” she said. “I have so much self worth.”
But the mother of two young boys says mental health is still stigmatized and she wants to help change that, and her tattoos could help make that possible.
“I truly believe that everyone deserves a chance and it’s just not talked about,” said the Langley resident.
To help support mental health and recovery programs, McInnes says she would donate a portion of her winnings to local organizations.
“Just to be able to contribute to an organization that helps with suicide… or helps a woman go through recovery, would just be so special to me… because I know what it’s like to lose somebody,” she said.
McInnes says she got her first tattoo at age 16, and now has numerous pieces on her body.
“I just really like beautiful art,” she said. “It’s funny because I can’t even get a blood test without passing out, but I can get a tattoo.”
The one that means the most to McInnes is inked on the side of her body; it includes her father’s name, as well as the names of her nine and 13-year-old sons.
“I have had so much fantastic support [in the contest] already from friends and family I am so grateful and so blessed,” she said.
Similarly, 36-year-old Walnut Grove mom Lindsay Holt didn’t enter the contest for the glitz and glamour, but rather to provide financial security for her family – including her 10-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son.
“I’m kind of in the middle of moving and going out on my own [after separating from my husband],” she said when asked what the prize money would mean to her.
“So probably a vacation for me and my kids – eventually, once COVID is over – definitely pay off any debt, and then just have a little bit of security.”
Then, with a bit of a laugh, she said, “And then, I would probably get more tattoos to be honest.”
Like McInnes, Holt entered the contest after a nudge from a friend.
“My tattoo artist actually mentioned that she thought I would be a good candidate to enter the contest,” Holt said. “I thought it was a little out of my comfort zone, for sure.”
But new experiences are all part of her plan.
“This experience has been part of my goal to keep growing, to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and to accept that perfection is what you make it,” Holt said. “This contest is also showing me that even when I feel alone, there is an incredible amount of people surrounding me and supporting me.”
As proven by the number of votes Holt has gained. Both she and McInnes have advanced to the next round of the contest.
Holt started getting tattoos when she was 18 years old.
“My first tattoo was a butterfly with tribal around it on my lower back… I have since had that redone to better fit my body,” she explained. “All it took was that one tattoo and I was hooked.”
But her most meaningful ink is a tiger.
“A tiger represents personal strength, which is very important to me,” she said.
“Over the last couple years I have grown into a whole different person and a lot of that came from realizing my own strength – both mentally and physically. I got the tiger on my left forearm as a reminder that I am strong and that I will always have the strength to overcome what life throws at me.”
Expressing emotions hasn’t always come easy for the Black Press Media accountant, but tattoos help her do that.
“There isn’t always meaning behind every tattoo I get, but many of them represent important people in my life or serve as a reminder of times in my life that helped get me to where I am today,” she said.
And Holt already has her next two designs planned.
“I pretty much give my artist the creative freedom to do kind of what she wants – to a certain extent, obviously, I have some ideas… [but] I’m not creative; I mean, I’m an accountant,” she said.
The cover girl contest is being run by Inked Magazine. It runs several rounds, so the public can vote for Holt or McInnes daily to help them reach the final round in March.