People get tattooed for various reasons. Many get them because they’re fashionable. Others get them as a reminder or something or somebody special. But some get them for the opposite reason, to cover up something they’d rather forget.
Some had surgery scars and dog bites they wanted to hide, while others decided to get tattoos to cover injuries inflicted by abusive partners or the painful results of bets gone wrong.
#1 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 didn’t work, but also didn’t 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 didn’t 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.
#2 Blooming Peony Tattoo Covering Scars From Self-Harming
My grandpa sexually abused me since I was a small child. For a long time, I felt like my body didn’t belong to me. I could feel his eyes burned into my skin, or the ghost of his hands brushing against my thighs. As retaliation, I began self-harming. I carved up my ribs, my breasts, my thighs. They were all the things he loved too much, and I wanted to destroy them. The worst of the scars were on my ribs. After recovery, my mom bought me scar cream and they faded. Even still, I felt a disconnect from my body. I started letting boys toss me around and abuse me. I saw myself as nothing but a sex object. Earlier this year, I relapsed. I was so angry and embarrassed at how weak I still was… So after some thought and saving, I went into a tattoo parlor and got a blooming peony on my sternum and ribs. I wanted to plant something beautiful where something ugly used to be. It’s still not finished, and needs coloring when I can afford it, but for now, it’s a great comfort to see in the mirror. I’m taking my body back, one flower at a time.
#3 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.
#4 Watercolor Pheonix Tattoo Covering Forearm Scars
These forearm scars are (pretty obviously) from self-harm and they’re from almost 14 years ago. Been wanting to cover it with a tattoo for half my life, but I guess just recently developed the metaphorical balls to finally do it. So happy!
#5 A Feather Covering Scars Resulting From An Abusive Relationship
I got this tattoo to cover a scar from an abusive boyfriend. He broke my arm and I had a metal plate put in it. I still went back to him many times. That scar reminded me of how weak I was and I wanted something beautiful instead. My cousin whom I was really close to committed suicide a couple months ago and I wanted to honor him. He called me unicorn.
#7 A Straight Spine In Celebration Of Overcoming Scoliosis
So let me start by saying my real spine has never looked and will never look like this. When I was 15 years old I was diagnosed with severe scoliosis — a 65-degree curve in my spine in the shape of an S. It was beyond correction with a brace and I was told that I would need surgery in order to live into adulthood. The surgery was incredibly invasive and involved straightening my spine and surgically planting two titanium rods on either side of my spine attached by 15 screws which were screwed directly into my vertebrae. The tattoo is from a medical textbook and spans 17” up my back, over my scar, which you can barely see. It is a symbol of my recovery and strength. My spine has never looked like that, nor will it ever look like that, it is simply the spine that I should’ve had.
#8 Colorful Lion Covering Scars From Self-Harm
When I was a kid, I was picked on multiple reasons; to me the worst of which was for simply being the big girl. I was 2 feet taller than everyone in my class and easily outweighed most kids my age. By the time I was a teenager I was neck deep in depression and taking it out on myself seemed like the only relief. Now that I’m older and much better equipped to deal with my mental health, I decided to cover up my years of self-harm scars. A lion was the first thing I thought of when I wanted something representing strength, plus we put in lotus and azalea blossoms in the mane for their symbolism of overcoming struggle. Instead of seeing a painful reminder of where I was, I get to look at this badass symbol of where I am 🙂
#9 A Ribbon Covering A Tumor Removal Scar
I had a bone tumor in my knee removed when I was 10. This is my ribbon that looks like it’s lacing me up.
#10 Black Feather Tattoo Covering Scars From Self-Harm
I got this one to cover up scars from self harm. I had a really bad one that stuck out and I felt like everyone could see it and was judging me. I got it on a Wednesday night after another friend died from an intentional overdose. I wanted to remember my friend and it goes with another tattoo of blackbirds I have from the Beatles song “Blackbird”. “Take these broken wings and learn to fly.” Today I am 3 years free of self harm!