Tattoo Shops Refuse To Help Teen Who Self-Harmed Only To Have 1 Man See Scars And Take Action
Cailyn Finkel 8/10/2018
We all express our emotions differently. While one person might sob when something bad happens in their lives, others turn to unhealthy physical outlets. This type of self-harm is exactly what 19-year-old Aoife Lovett suffered from when she was younger.
All of the pressures of being a young woman in today's world were too much to handle and she turned to cutting herself as a way to release the pain. Thankfully, Aoife was able to seek treatment for her affliction and has been clean from cutting for several years now.
No matter how much she's progressed mentally, the physical reminders of her illness are scarred on her arm forever. She wanted to cover these scars more than anything in the world - but no tattoo artist would work on her. They all claimed the heavy scar tissue made it impossible for a tattoo to look beautiful.
Then she met a man named Ryan Kelly...
Warning: Content below may be upsetting for those suffering from mental health problems.
Aoife told The Independent how upsetting the self-harm scars were for her on a daily basis. It was a constant reminder of how dark her life was at one time.
"It's very hard when you're a couple of years clean from doing it and every day you're constantly reminded of what you did. It brings back memories of how you felt then."
She visited tattoo shop after tattoo shop - and they all told her the same thing: scar tissue makes tattoo accurately nearly impossible. With her head hung low, Aoife walked into Ryan's shop and expected the same thing.
Facebook/Ryan Sean K
Ryan shared what happened when Aoife approached him and asked for a coverup. Without thinking twice he opened his heart to her and began working.
"A girl just randomly came in looking for a tattoo to cover up some scars and I got talking to her and she started telling me her story and at the end of that, it didn't really feel right to charge her.
It kind of felt like it meant more to her than that."
When it came time to pay, Ryan refused to charge the teen. She was clearly trying to move on from such a hard period in her life and he was honored to be a part of that. In fact, Aoife's coverup was the inspiration that led him to create "Scars Behind Beauty," a project that aims to give all people wishing to hide their self-harm scars free tattoo coverups!
At first, Ryan had a handful of people come in for the project. But now, Ryan says he has a waiting list of more than 300 individuals looking for a coverup!
Aoife told The Independent how powerful "Scars Behind Beauty" is to the people who need it the most.
"I think what Ryan is doing is brilliant because it's very hard to get someone to tattoo over it and it's such a meaningful [moment] to me to get them covered and get them covered well. It's very hard to find an artist who will do that and is passionate about it.
A lot of artists just won't cover them because it's a lot of work and they'd just not rather take the risk of it looking bad."
Fortunately, Ryan mastered tattooing over scars and each piece is more beautiful than the next. With a few hours and a tattoo machine, Ryan is able to give these suffering souls a break from the constant reminder of their painful emotional scars!
Facebook/Ryan Sean K
When asked why he does it, Ryan says it has to do with a very close friend he lost too soon due to mental health problems. Now he uses the art form as a way to heal those coping with the same issues.
"One of the owners from here was one of the first people to give me a chance. He was in where I got my apprenticeship when I was 17 and when he moved studio, I moved with him... and he took his life about a year ago.
After that, and the struggles that I've been through, I kind of wanted to do something and it kind of made sense with the kind of tattoos that I do to do something through that."
Thanks to Ryan's big heart and willingness to help, hundreds of people can feel comfortable in their own skin and proud of their journey to healing.
Facebook/Ryan Sean K
Amazingly, Ryan isn't the only tattoo artist out there changing lives. There are a handful of tattooers around the world donating their time and talent to help others.
Their mission is an important reminder to approach people with kindness, help when you can and never judge someone for their personal journey. We've all experienced pain and cope with it differently!