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Turning trauma into art

Tattoos help women go from hurt to healed

/ 05:34 AM March 19, 2022
A woman shows the new tattoo she got as part of the “We Are Diamonds Project"

BEAUTIFIED SCARS A woman shows the new tattoo she got as part of the “We Are Diamonds Project,” which offers free skin art for women with scars caused by domestic violence, accidents or medical reasons, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. —REUTERS

SAO PAULO — Brazilian women wounded by burns and other physical trauma can now seek out relief from a tattoo artist on a mission to ink over the scars, transforming lingering reminders of pain with beautiful butterflies, flowers, and animals.

The studio of Sao Paulo tattoo artist Karlla Mendes has already applied its skill to more than 150 women in the Brazilian megacity with its “We Are Diamonds Project.”

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“You can transform someone’s life with your art. You can see it in her eyes. Her soul brightens and she glows with happiness,” she told Reuters.“It’s that moment that makes me want to keep going with this project,” Mendes said.

Many of the women who seek out Mendes’ studio are survivors of domestic violence, car accidents, or illness, determined to regain their self-esteem by reimagining ugly wounds as a canvas for body art.

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To apply for the no-charge tattoos, women must tell their story and send photos via the project’s website.

Over nearly 10 hours, Liliana Oliveira watched with awe as scars on her right arm disappeared, covered with purple butterflies and delicate flower petals.

“It brought me back to life. I went back to being a woman,” she said.

Tattoos help women go from hurt to healed

The combination picture shows Valeria Festa posing for a picture before and after being tattooed as part of the “We are Diamonds” project, which gives free tattoos to women with scars caused by domestic violence, accidents or medical reasons, in Sao Paulo, Brazil March 8, 2022. Picture taken March 8, 2022. REUTERS/Carla Carniel

A traumatic car accident years ago left Valeria Festa with scars on her left leg, an always-present reminder of one of the worst moments in her life.

“I often couldn’t even look and would ignore it because when you look at something like that it bothers you, it weighs on you because it doesn’t belong to you,” she said.

The tattoo she now has was “amazing,” Festa said.

For Mendes, the tattoo artist, the project satisfies her own desire to help.

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“It’s just knowing that I really meant something,” she said, “and was able to transform someone’s life for the better.”

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TAGS: healing, ink, march, skin, tattoo, Women
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