While many tattoos serve as just decorative or trendy forms of body art, many people who carry scars have found they can serve a more profound purpose.
Rather than being forced to be constantly reminded of a traumatic experience, the people below used tattoos to cover their scars.
For some, it was an aesthetic decision to hide their scars. But for others, it was done to take ownership of and exhibit control over life-changing hardships that they had endured.
A Bluebird Covering Scars from Multiple Surgeries
My sophomore year of high school I fell during a trampoline routine at gymnastics practice and shattered my left arm. After eight months of surgeries I was left with an arm that not only hurt constantly and didnt work, but also didnt look like my own.
Surgeries to remove dead muscle and scar tissue had distorted my forearm, and the scars scattered across my arm and hand felt unsightly and ugly. This tattoo, my first, was a present to myself when I turned 18 as a way to reclaim my body after it had been irreparably damaged, and to turn my scars into something beautiful. I didnt want to cover up the surgical scars because they were, and are, such an important part of who I am now, but I wanted to transform them into something I was proud of. The bird is an eastern bluebird.
A Sleeve Piece Done to Cover Burns
I lost a bet in high school and let someone burn me with the metal end of a Bic lighter on my arm. It left a really noticeable scar so I started a half sleeve to cover it up.
A Feather Covering Scars Resulting from an Abusive Relationship
One Word Next to a Spinal Surgery Scar
Instead of hiding my scar, I decided to show it off. Last July I had scoliosis spinal reconstruction surgery, placing two titanium rods on either sides of my spine and fusing two-thirds of my spinal vertebrae into one large bone. This left me with a noticeable two-and-a-half-foot scar down the center of my back. I got the word strength tattooed next to my scar. The S is a tracing of my actual spine from an X-ray before my surgery. It took a lot of strength to recover from such a hard surgery and I want a constant reminder of that.
The Symbol for Ovarian Cancer Following a Lumpectomy
On August 22, 2013, I had a mass removed from my right ovary. Three months later I got this tattoo not to cover my scar but to highlight it. I was lucky enough to have my results come back benign. My teal ribbon (a symbol for ovarian cancer) serves as a reminder for me to never forget how lucky I am. My experience made me a stronger person and shaped me into who I am today.
A Demon Cupcake Covering Cancer Treatment Scars
I had Hodgkins lymphoma when I was 21 and didnt get diagnosed until I was at stage 4 with a slew of other complications that resulted in a three-week hospital stay.
Well, I beat the cancer but had lots of scars, the one on my arm being the most visible for me. I started painting again about a week after being cleared of cancer and this was the first thing I painted. About two years later I was preparing to start my full arm sleeve and covering the scars from those months of anguish with something that brought me back to myself seemed like the perfect match.”
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