19-year-old Aoife Lovett credits a tattoo for helping her make the next step toward recovery.
Throughout her teens, Lovett has struggled with depression and self-harm. Although she stopped self-harming a few years ago, she says her scars are a constant reminder of her pain.
“It’s very hard when you’re a couple of years clean from doing it and every day you’re constantly reminded of what you did. It brings back memories of how you felt then. There’s a lot of shame that comes with it and guilt, especially when you’re around your family,” Lovett said.
So Lovett decided to tattoo something beautiful over her ‘ugly’ scars but couldn’t find a tattoo artist to take on the job. Apparently, tattooing over scarred skin is difficult and rarely looks as good as on a smooth canvas.
Then she met Ryan Kelly. The young tattoo artist lost his mentor and best friend to suicide last year and struggled with his own anxiety for most of his life.
Soon after his mentor passed away, a young girl much like Lovett walked into his shop looking for someone to tattoo over her scars. Kelly met the challenge head on.
Kelly said: “A girl just randomly came in looking for a tattoo to cover up some scars and I got talking to her and she started telling me her story and at the end of that it didn’t really feel right to charge her. It kind of felt like it meant more to her than that.”
In February, inspired by their encounter, Kelly started a non-profit organization called Scars Behind Beauty, that offers people who have struggled with self-harm a professional tattoo to cover up their scars free-of-charge.
Kelly transformed Lovett’s scars into a beautiful piece of art featuring a rose and dagger.
Now Lovett’s scars don’t hold her back!
And Kelly isn’t the only artist making a difference.
Poppy Seger is a tattoo artist from the UK that recently went viral for covering up heavy scarring on a young woman named Lydia. According to Lydia, the tattoo has changed her life forever.
And then there’s Michael Truitt, a professional tattoo artist that struggled with self-harm into his early 20’s. Now he offers coverup tattoos at half price so that those in recovery can wear their scars as a ‘badge of honor’ to show how far they’ve come.
Each of these artists has made an incredible impact on wonderful people with troubled pasts. Most of us are able to hide the things we’ve been through while those with scars cannot. Bravo to these tattoo artists!