Mental Health

The truth about tattoos, told by the people who have them

Tattoos are permanent marks of a person’s identity or interests.

It can be something that has deep meaning to the individual, something that they love, or even just a design they like.

Whatever the reason is behind it, it is a part of who someone is.

According to a survey done in 2013, 21% of Canadians have tattoos, and I bet it’s even higher. If you don’t have any, you know someone who does.
Spencer Schmor got his first tattoo when he was 18. Now 25, he has over 30 tattoos.

“It’s an expression of who someone is.”

All of his tattoos has a meaning to him.

“if the artwork itself doesn’t, the session does.”

He explains that a session can have meaning if he got it during a trip or for a certain reason.

For example, he got most recent one in Vancouver at his friend’s tattoo shop, where he gave his friend and another artist “total freedom” and let them create whatever they wanted.

“Six hours later and this is what they came up with,” he said as he showed me a picture of it.

I have two tattoos: Demi Lovato’s signature heart and a semicolon, both on my left wrist.

The heart means many things to me: it represents my favourite artist and role model, Demi Lovato; our shared interest to help ourselves and others; a reminder of the promise I made to her to stay strong.

The semicolon, which I got two months after my first one, is from a movement, Project Semicolon. It is a symbol for mental illness, addictions and suicidal/self harm behaviours.

The symbol means your story isn’t over yet. The Project Semicolon website reads, “a semicolon represents a sentence the author could have ended, but chose not to. The sentence is your life and the author is you.”

I got the semicolon during a really hard time, so it also serves as a reminder that if I got through that, I can get through anything.

Next week, I am getting a rainbow heart tattooed on the bottom of my leg. After pride week in my city and the Orlando shootings, I decided I wanted to get a tattoo in honour of the LGBT community, as it is a really important part of my life and something that I will always be proud to be a part of and support.

According to an article in the Huffington Post Canada, media plays a big role in tattoos becoming more popular, by highlighting famous celebrities getting tattoos, as well as with shows like “Miami Ink” and “Ink Master”.

Celebrity copy cat tattoos, which are tattoos people get that are the same or similar than celebrities, is a popular trend.

Another popular trend is meaningful tattoos, where the tattoo has a unique meaning, like my heart tattoo, or well known meaning, like the semicolon tattoo.

“They are a great way to express yourself,” said Annie Stones.

While her tattoos have meanings, she doesn’t think a meaning is completely necessary.

“There are some tattoos that I’d like in the future that have no meaning and I just want them because they are pretty or cool.”

While tattoos are amazing pieces of art and symbolism, they are a life long commitment. Take into consideration if the tattoo, or the memory will mean as much to you, as you get older as it does now.

“I have a tattoo of ‘I love you’ in sign language,” said Carolyn Jankiv, who got the tattoo 30 years ago. “I regret it because everyone thinks it means ‘right on’ and because it’s the old style, very boring and outdated.”

Jade McKee said although she doesn’t hate them, she regrets two of her tattoos. “Both were cheap, spur of the moment decisions of an underage girl.”

She adds, “I adore my tattoos, and even the crappiest ones are a part of who I am, and a part of my growing.”

“I think people should really consider the commitment it takes to get a tattoo as well as the life long commitment,” said Schmor. “Sure, a neck tattoo looks ‘badass’ but is ‘badass’ going to appeal to you when you’re 90?”

He added, “you don’t have to put all your tattoos where people can see them. That’s not who they’re for. Don’t be afraid to keep them hidden. But also don’t be afraid to show them.”


Jessica Victoria
<p>Jessica Victoria, 24, is a writer and advocate for mental health, disability and LGBTQ+. She uses her personal experiences and knowledge to help and educate others.</p>

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