By Krystie Morrison
***Trigger Warning: Some subjects that are mentioned in this article may be upsetting to readers. This article will mention domestic abuse and body modification.***
We are all aware of the vampires who try to walk in the daylight and either burn or sparkle, but there is one vampire who can walk amongst the living freely. To Ripley’s Believe It or Not fans, she is known as the Vampire Woman; however, to her family and community, she is simply known as Maria.
Maria José Cristerna Méndez was born in Guadalajara, Mexico in 1976 to a highly religious, Catholic household. Méndez received her first tattoo when she was just 14 years old. After graduating high school, Maria began studying criminal law at the Catholic University of Mexico. During this time she was a victim of domestic abuse from her husband of 10 years.
After earning her degree in law, she found the courage to leave her abusive marriage with her four children in tow. As a way to represent her struggles with her first marriage, she turned to tattooing and body modification. The modifications made to Maria’s body include, but are not limited to, a split tongue, subdermal implants, eye tattoos, scarification, and even dental implants.
Méndez is most known for her body modifications and the fact that she has 96% of her body tattooed. The 4% that remains is the palms of her hands, which are difficult areas to tattoo. She is recognized in multiple books and different media channels as the most tattooed woman in the world.
Aside from being a lawyer, Maria has since taken on a few business ventures such as her own tattoo studio and a clothing boutique. She is also an activist for women’s rights and domestic abuse. Méndez continues to inspire and empower many women all around the world.
The Vampire Woman’s story is a prime example that just because you look different doesn’t mean that you cannot be successful in whatever you aim to do in life.