For Jessica, her tattoos were an armour to protect her from her self-harm scars as she transitioned into being a mother. Today, she’s ready for a fresh start. This is her story.
I’m removing tattoos on both of my forearms that I got to cover self-harm scars I have from my teenage years. I rushed into getting the tattoos prior to having my first child. I didn’t want the judgment as a new mum having old scars and people thinking I’d harm myself again. Especially with having a new baby, I didn't want people to think that I was incapable of looking after my child.
Covering them up on an impulse has been my biggest regret. I didn’t really think much about the tattoos at the time I got them done. I was under pressure to get them done because I knew my partner and I were imminently trying for a baby.
Now that I’ve got these tattoos, I never have my arms out. I was already a self-conscious person and I’m even more self-conscious because I’ve got all of these tattoos. There’s parts of the design I like, and parts I don’t. Getting tattoos has had the opposite effect, and has made me more self-conscious. I almost wish I didn’t have any.
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Has being a mum changed your perspective on your tattoos and why you got them in the first place?
Since becoming a mum, I’m very aware of my past and what I am trying to instil in my children. I want them to grow up and not be afraid to talk to me. To have that honest conversation with them. I'm very aware of my struggles, so I’ll be on the lookout for theirs. Part of growing up is going through struggles and having that open honest conversation and dialogue with them.
Now that I’m a few years older and have had time to think about the art I’d prefer to have, it’s about having the chance to start again for me. I was in a very different place at that time in my life to where I am now.
How have you found your laser tattoo removal sessions?
I’ve had four sessions so far at NAAMA, alternating arms each week. I can see some fading already on both arms on my really bold tattoos. I’m looking forward to seeing how the removal progresses. It’s exciting. The end result will make it all worth it. I will be in disbelief to see my arms without tattoos.
I’m looking forward to having my arms out in the summer. It would be amazing to wear short sleeves in public and feel confident.
Was there something specific that made you feel it was right to explore laser tattoo removal?
My focus is my children. I absolutely love being a mum and that’s where I put all my energy. But it's important to also look after yourself as well. To be a good mum, I need to take care of myself. Removing my tattoos is something I've really wanted to do for quite a long time.
How did you find NAAMA’s SECOND CHANCES programme?
SECOND CHANCES is brilliant. I was shocked I got accepted after my sister suggested I apply. I was desperate with my tattoo removal and I couldn't afford it. And being a mum of two, my priorities are my children, so for me this has been a really an amazing opportunity. It’s like someone’s given me a break and said, “we’ll help you out.” I can’t thank you enough for this.
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"It’s like someone’s given me a break and said, 'we’ll help you out.' I can’t thank you enough for this."
As you progress with your laser tattoo removal at NAAMA, how do you feel about seeing your scars again?
I haven’t seen my scars for quite a while, because it’s been a few years that they’ve been covered up, but now I’m starting to see them again. It reminds me that mental health is talked about a lot more now than it was 20 years ago. There used to be a shame with it, but I’ve seen that change. People are more open and honest about their mental health and it's really important to share our stories so people feel confident to come out and talk about theirs.
What would you say to anyone looking to remove their tattoos?
To anyone thinking of removing their tattoos, I’d say just go for it. Having gone through the removal process myself, it’s not as bad as I imagined it would be. It’s worth it. It’s very quick. If you’re unhappy with your tattoos, go for it.
SECOND CHANCES is here to help
We are honoured to support Jessica’s tattoo removal journey through our SECOND CHANCES programme. Like Jessica, many people have tattoos that no longer represent the person they are today. They may have tattoos that are triggering or that take away confidence instead of inspiring it. They may be reminders of past memories or traumas that are stopping them from moving forward with their lives. We want to give those people a SECOND CHANCE.
To nominate yourself or someone else for our SECOND CHANCES programme, complete the submission form with your tattoo story and what it would mean to you/your nominee to receive treatment with us.