This 22-Year-Old Artist Gave Out Free Tattoos For An Amazing Reason

Dealing with mental health struggles in our society often means facing stigma and judgment, unfortunately. But some of those struggles — like self-harm — are harder to hide than others. Which is why one tattoo artist has been helping people move forward by offering free tattoos to cover their scars.

The artist, Whitney Develle, 22, is based in Brisbane, Australia at Garage Ink Brisbane. She originally posted on her Instagram account on March 1, offering 50 free spots through the end of the year. But because those filled up so quickly, she's now offering discounted cover-ups to others who are still interested.

Covering up scars has become a very specific talent for some artists. For instance, there are those who specialize in giving women cover-up tattoos for their mastectomy scars. But self-harm scars often come with an extra-intense emotional component — and stigma, long after you've stopped cutting. For those who have stopped, getting a tattoo to cover the scars is often a symbolic decision to fully move on from that part of their lives.

Develle told 9 News in Australia that she was inspired to start the free tattoo offer by a friend who had struggled with both self-harm and an eating disorder. “She told me how much pain it brought her when people would question her about [her scars] or make comments,” Develle said.“No one should ever have to feel like a public museum for people to ridicule.”

Many of the people who have written to her since she posted the offer have said they were "too scared to speak with a tattooist out of fear of being judged," which made Develle's impulse to help even stronger.

Not everyone wants to completely cover their scars, though. For those who've found some relief through the Butterfly Project — a technique in which you're encouraged to draw a butterfly on your skin rather than cut — a butterfly tattoo seems only natural. Of course, in the end should you choose to be inked, whatever you get should reflect your mental health journey however you see it.

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