The Tattoo Transformation

By Dana Zillgitt, Regular ContributorSeptember 16, 2015

It’s not often you hear tattoos and domestic violence together in the same sentence, at least not in a sense of empowerment. But there’s an artist in Brazil, Flavia Carvalho, who’s taking the world by storm. She’s providing tattoos free of charge for women who have survived domestic violence or have had mastectomies and are looking to cover their scars with something beautiful, something to build them up instead of serve as a painful reminder.

She was inspired to provide this service because a woman came in looking to cover a scar she got at a club, simply because said no to a man coming onto her. He pulled out a switchblade, stabbed her in the stomach, and left a gnarly scar. And as the saying goes, the rest is history.

Two years later, Carvalho’s working with local police and a women’s group to market her free service to fellow survivors of domestic violence and those with scars from a mastectomy.

So why does she continue providing these tattoos for free? After all, a lady has to make money, right? And doesn’t hearing those stories over and over again get disheartening after a while?


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Carvalho continues to do so to raise awareness about women’s issues and the plague of violence against them that seems to continuously fly under the radar. She wanted to make a difference, no matter how small. So she created her project known as A Pele da Flor, or “the skin of the flower” in Portuguese, and she has been tattooing these women free of charge ever since. She wanted to turn something ugly into something beautiful, something that once tore women down into something empowering.

To get the word out, she shares a before and after photo of the scar and the stories of how the women received them. She also shares the reactions from the women after the tattoos have been completed. According to Carvalho, the reactions from each woman have been nothing short of powerful. She goes on to say,

“They become excited, optimistic. It is wonderful to see how their relationship with their bodies changes after they get tattoos….I see how, after being ashamed of their scarred bodies, they now post pictures in dresses, and they look happy, changed.”

This is the reason why Carvalho continues to provide such a service.

So why is this important?

Isn’t it obvious? This is a take on an issue we don’t quite know how to publicly address. It’s a blatant attempt at physically and emotionally changing a scar that goes deeper than one can imagine, and it’s turning a blight, a tragedy, into something to behold. These tattoos allow women to behold their strength and beauty. They lift these women up, so they remember that no matter where someone’s trajectory has taken them, their future can still be bright. Their worth and their being are still valid. And one scar does not diminish beauty.

Let's chat!

How can we take something tragic in our life and make it beautiful like Carvalho? Tell us below!

About Dana

DANA_ZILLGITT_writer_bio_(1).jpgDana has her BA in International Affairs & Spanish as well as a mild obsession with rescue animals and all things caffeinated. She’s mastered the art of the selfie, fort building, and even the sass battle. Plus, she can quote 95% of Anchorman and Zoolander. 


Every girl is a work in progress. If you need more help, click here.



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