National Eating Disorders Association
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Are You Ready for Your First Recovery Tattoo?

Emma Giordano, Communications Intern

Though tattoos are not for everyone, some individuals choose to get inked for a variety of reasons. Especially when overcoming hardship, a tattoo may serve as a reminder of the battles you’ve won and the feats you’ve conquered. For many of us recovering from eating disorders, recovery tattoos represent strength, hope, and motivation to continue with recovery. In case you’re considering getting your own recovery tattoo, we’ve compiled a list of steps that will help you be satisfied with your new ink!

The What?

Choose your tattoo! The design of a tattoo is going to be personal for everyone. Some prefer symbols, like the NEDA logo or a butterfly. Others are drawn to inspirational words and quotes. Some may want a family member/recovery hero’s name or a quote of religious affiliation. If you need some inspiration for your recovery tattoo, check out the thousands of tattoos our community has submitted to our Facebook page.

Regardless of what you choose, recovery tattoos just have to be meaningful to YOU.

The Where?

Choose your tattoo location! This is another personal choice that differs for each individual. Maybe there is a certain part of your body that you’ve specially reserved for your tattoo. Some people prefer to have their tattoos be easily concealable and only shared when desired, whereas others want theirs to be on display 24/7. No matter where, the design you choose will always be with you to remind you that recovery is possible!

The Who?

Research local tattoo artists! Once you have the perfect design and location in mind, you’ll want to find the right artist for you. Things to consider when looking into a tattoo artist is:

A. Where they are located in relation to you.

B. If you need an artist who specializes in a specific art. (For example, if your tattoo entails precise line work, look for an artist known for line work.)

C. Your budget. Tattoo prices vary by shop, so check out a few different studios in order to find a shop minimum that works for you.

If you need help finding a local tattoo artist, trueartists.com is a useful database to aid your search!

The How?

Follow aftercare instructions! Getting the tattoo is only the first part. You also need to care for it! Always consult with your artist to find out their recommendations, but be sure to be attentive to your tattoo’s needs. Basic aftercare instructions include washing your tattoo thoroughly, moisturizing your tattoo regularly, keeping the tattoo out of sunlight, and refraining from submerging the tattoo in water as well as refraining from picking/scratching at the tattoo in the early stages of healing. 

Here are two online references full of great instructions on how to care for your tattoo: 

Once you’ve followed all the steps above, you should have a lovely recovery tattoo! Your new ink will follow you through life as a gentle reminder that you are strong, you are beautiful, and there is hope for the future. Feel free to share your recovery tattoos with us on our Facebook page

Emma Giordano is a 21-year-old New York-based psychology student aiming to become a mental health counselor. She is a YouTuber at youtube.com/emmmabooks who primarily talks about books but also utilizes her platform to encourage discussion about mental health.

Header photo via Alison Rose Tipton