For many, tattoos are about so much more than an awesome, permanent picture. Tattoos can tell a story about an amazing time in your life, serve as a commemoration of a loved one, or show off another side of your personality.
An alternative reason to get a tattoo is to remind yourself to show yourself love and compassion, and that whatever difficult times you find yourself in, it will pass.
Mental Health and Tattoos
Tattoos have a long history – from getting inked for cultural reasons, to the rebellious of society refusing to conform – being inked has had many different connotations over the centuries.
In the recent decades, getting a tattoo has become a form of self-love, and has been linked to mental health benefits.
Viren Swami, a professor of social psychology at Anglia Ruskin University who researches body image and body art, told Yahoo! Entertainment in the feature, The Mental Health Benefits of Tattoos According to Psychologists, “In the last 10 or 20 years, more people are getting tattoos to symbolize their individuality. They can express something about your uniqueness as a human being.”
According to Swami, people can experience a boost in their mental health after getting a tattoo, especially a few weeks after getting inked.
This can be seen in the numbers. A 2019 Ipsos poll discovered that 30% of Americans have at least one tattoo, an increase from 21% in 2012. Of the people aged between 18 and 34 surveyed, 40% have at least one tattoo. To all those people who ask people with tattoos, “What happens if you get sick of it?”, a whopping 92% of the inked people surveyed stated that they’re happy with their body art.
Boost Your Confidence
A study conducted by Swami and published in the journal Body Image found that some people have less anxiety and dissatisfaction with their appearance immediately after getting a tattoo.
Further to this, they experienced greater body appreciation and self-esteem at least three weeks after getting a tattoo. While the research also found that those feelings decrease with time, the majority of the people surveyed plan to get another tattoo at some point.
A study conducted by Texas Tech University found that women sporting multiple tattoos had higher self-esteem than anyone else in the study. According to the researcher behind this study, sociology professor Jerome Koch, “I think women, especially, are more aware of their bodies through, among other things, fat shaming, the cosmetics and plastic surgery industry and hyper-sexualized imagery in media. What we may be seeing is women translating that awareness into empowerment.”
Of course, you should not just get a tattoo for the rush of endorphins and the possible mental health benefit. Getting inked is a big decision, and one that you should think long and hard about before walking into a studio. Whatever you decide to do, what’s of utmost importance is that you get the tattoo for you – not for anyone else. For more important points to consider before getting inked, click here.
Reclaiming your Health and Body
After fighting off a serious disease or mental health issue, many people decide to commemorate their struggle.
Jennifer Carter, a psychologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, explained to Yahoo! Entertainment that, for some, tattoos can symbolize claiming one’s body back from an illness.
“Tattoos can signify strength and survival, reminders of a battle.”
Not only can a tattoo be a reminder of a past battle with an illness, it can also serve to encourage a person to continue to make their health a priority.
In the feature, I Got a Tattoo, and It Actually Improved My Mental Health, in Byrdie, writer Kara Cuzzone speaks about her battle with anxiety and depression, and how getting a tattoo was part of her healing journey. After prioritizing her own wellbeing by going to therapy and practicing self-care, she wanted a reminder that, no matter what, she would be okay.
“The actual experience of getting the tattoo worked wonders for my mental health (and not just because of the adrenaline and endorphin rush). The act of putting something permanent on my body as assurance I would always take care of myself was pretty powerful.”
New York City psychologist, Heather Silvestri, backs up the encouraging effects of getting a tattoo in the feature by stating, “One of the most noxious aspects of mental illness and psychological suffering is that it often, and at least initially, makes people feel out of control and passive. A mental health-related tattoo can serve to flip the equation because you are affirmatively engaging your own psychological struggle.”
Tattoos That Speak to Self-love
In a word that is constantly putting out images of what we “should” look like and companies on social media trying to sell us a plethora of weight-loss products, getting a tattoo and showing it off can be an amazing act of self-acceptance and self-love.
In the feature, Full-Throated Consent: How Tattoos Help Me Reclaim My Body in Redefining Wellness, writer Rachel Hamilton expresses how tattoos helped her to reclaim her own body.
“Tattoos are a way of reclaiming a body that the world has told me is not mine. They are a way of creating space for myself. A way of showing the world that it cannot control me, it cannot put me in a box and it cannot tell me how a good little girl should look or act.”
The Placement of Inked Reminders
One of the most important decisions when deciding on a tattoo is where it’s going to be placed on your body.
If you want your tattoo to serve as a constant reminder to you, you’re going to want to get inked in a place that’s visible to you. So, you may want to think twice about your self-love tattoo being put on your shoulder, your back, or anywhere you’re going to need a mirror to see.
Popular places for self-love tattoos include forearms, biceps, wrists, fingers and thighs. For some essential points to consider when deciding where to get your tattoo, click here.
There are many amazing reasons to get a tattoo – what it all boils down to is your own preference and what you want to be reminded of daily. Getting inked can be an incredible way to give yourself one of the most important reminders of them all: love yourself.