“I will find a way or make my own,” or ”Aut Viam Inveniam Aut Faciam,” are the words tattooed across single mom Sushmita Sen’s hand, while wings, a sword and a crown adorn the nape of Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut. Very apt for their independent and queenly personalities, don’t you think? Tattoos are often used as wordless expressions of one’s personality, a proclamation of love or desire and more popularly, symbols or reminders of hope, perseverance, goals and aspirations. But, can it help a person cope up with mental stress too? This World Health Day, experts decode the pros and cons of getting inked.
”What do you do after undergoing an emotional trauma like a break-up or perhaps losing a loved one?” asks Mumbai-based tattoo artist Vikas Malani, founder of BodyCanvas Tattoos and Piercings. ”You either go on a drinking binge or have an intense desire to travel or meditate if you like the quiet. Something that will give you relief from the deep emotional wound you have suffered.”
A tattoo is one such relief that has a therapeutic effect on a person’s psychology. Tattoos have a feel-good vibe to them as the bright colours can be attractive and charming and if you have a meaningful tattoo inked, it can have a deeply positive effect, says Delhi-based tattoographer Karan.
Moreover, people opt for motivational and uplifting designs like a swallow tattoo, which identifies one as someone who overcomes adversity, wants to start afresh, or a dandelion that announces one’s decision to live in the present instead of being imprisoned in the past, to serve as a constant reminder of moving ahead. The colours in the tattoos play an important role as well — shades of blue are known to inspire energy and enthusiasm, and the vibrant red can be peppy and can make you feel cosmetically beautiful.
But can tattoos really help overcome depression? Malani says that tattoos have a placebo effect on a person’s psyche. More than getting inked, it is the belief in the procedure that eases one’s psychological pain. However, it is likely that a person can form an emotional connect with their tattoo as many use them as a symbol of identification. Karan advises not depending on anything to stay mentally strong as ”the only person that can help you is yourself.”
Another bone of contention between enthusiasts and naysayers is the permanence of a tattoo, and while many people receive the idea with much exuberance, others are quite uncomfortable with such a commitment.
Karan, who aims at having a full-body tattoo armour one day, believes,”When a person gets inked, they view themselves as a new person and their confidence level rises as they can start afresh.” However, with the fast-changing fads and settings of the world, one might have difficulty holding on to a symbol that keeps them attached to the past. Dr DM Mahajan, senior consultant, Dermatology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals says that in most cases, it’s a temporary feeling that is translated into a permanent tattoo and people want to get rid of it as fast as they want it done. ” What inspires you today may not tomorrow”. Speaking to indianexpress.com, he said,” Tattoo alteration is a deletion of a reminder of a temporary, impulsive action.”
Since permanent tattoos cannot be removed, people settle for getting them covered-up or altered. Malani says tattoo cover-ups and modification are an excessively common procedure in his studios every day. From people getting over a relationship to ‘funny’ designs that are no longer the rage, cover-ups are necessary as the old tattoo just does not fit in the pace of the person’s life anymore.
One such case is that of celebrity couple Hrithik Roshan and Sussanne Khan, who sported similar star tattoos on their wrists before their split. However, after the divorce, Khan added the words ‘Follow your sunshine’ before the star, as a form of cover-up.
However, spiritual and symbolic tattoos remain very popular and evergreen choices that need not be altered with time. For example, the chakra that denotes a balance of energies from root to crown and the semi-colon, which is an exclamation that one’s story isn’t over yet!
Would you get a tattoo, and how likely are you to keep it all your life? Share your thoughts on getting inked in the comments below.