"The tattoo changed my mastectomy scar into my shield."
March 16, 2013 5:16 PM   Subscribe

In Celebration of a Scar: 25 Amazing Mastectomy Tattoos
posted by Wordwoman (38 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've seen this kind of thing before. And having been in a relationship with a lady that had one breast removed I think that this is always an excellent thing. Thanks for this.
posted by Splunge at 5:31 PM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lovely photos, the before-tattoos and afters since I'm always in favor of showing off one's boss scars a la Jaws. Am I the only one who had the following cranky interior monologue: "flowerygirliestuff sure, fine flowerygirliestuff yeahyeahflowers flowerygirliestuff YAY SENDAK FINALLY SOMETHING GROOVY THANK GOD flowersflowers yata yata."
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:34 PM on March 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thanks for posting.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 5:35 PM on March 16, 2013


"flowerygirliestuff sure, fine flowerygirliestuff yeahyeahflowers flowerygirliestuff YAY SENDAK FINALLY SOMETHING GROOVY THANK GOD flowersflowers yata yata."

I'd get an orange swan.
posted by orange swan at 5:38 PM on March 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


It wasn't so long ago a particularly awful metafilter commenter said that tattoos were only for drug addicts and nazis.

I sure do hope he sees this.
posted by chronkite at 5:39 PM on March 16, 2013 [16 favorites]


Am I the only one who had the following cranky interior monologue: "flowerygirliestuff sure, fine flowerygirliestuff yeahyeahflowers flowerygirliestuff YAY SENDAK FINALLY SOMETHING GROOVY THANK GOD flowersflowers yata yata."

There was the skeleton, which I thought was nifty.
posted by hoyland at 5:45 PM on March 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wonder if the flowery feminine stuff is because losing a breast can feel like losing a part of your femininity: so often we define women by 'having boobs', it's hard not to internalize that at least a little bit. Also, scars are often seen as so unfeminine and ugly, I can see the impulse for something pretty.

Or maybe the women just like flowery stuff.

These women are awesome, no matter what the reason. I had a friend who opted to have a double masectomy last year (she's in her twenties), and we talked about the possibility of tattooing over the area. She finally opted not to, but I'm glad it's a thing.
posted by dinty_moore at 5:49 PM on March 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


These are great on so many levels. Absolutely beautiful.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:49 PM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


"(Note: while beautiful, these photos do contain some nudity and may not be appropriate around kids or at work.)"

Work I can understand, but kids? Really?

Also I read a comment where these were linked on another site that said your chest becomes incredibly sensitive after a mastectomy and getting a tattoo there must be extremely painful. I'm also reminded of the story of the woman who had had a mastectomy and was too sensitive there to wear a swim top and got kicked out of the pool. When I see these I think "They look great but I don't think I'd be brave enough to stand the pain", if I was in that position.
posted by bleep at 5:53 PM on March 16, 2013


Good for them, although as tattoos, none of these are particularly interesting or original.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:01 PM on March 16, 2013


No, I for one didn't think "yeah yeah girly flowers," possibly because my brother has giant flower tattoos and they are not particularly girly and he himself isn't girly at all. Gender: kinda funny. I liked the big orange poppy.
posted by clavicle at 6:02 PM on March 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


tit for tat \ˌtit-fər-ˈtat\ : an equivalent given in return (as for an injury)
posted by hal9k at 6:05 PM on March 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


Facebook Removes Photo Of Breast Cancer Survivor's Tattoo, Users Fight Back
posted by homunculus at 6:06 PM on March 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


These are very interesting. (As a guy, I'm loath to call them "great" to keep from sounding inapropriately enthusiastic.) Thank you.

I get a photography magazine, Lenswork, that had a series in 2008 of photos of women in all sizes entitled "This is who I am". I can't call the photos nudes because they weren't abstract. A couple of photos had women who were bald due to chemo, and one woman had undergone a mastectomy without any reconstruction. The look on her face was one far short of, and yet far beyond defiance.

(I have an extra copy of the issue due to a friend having purchased it at the news-stand for me based on one of the other portfolios, not knowing I keep a subscription. If someone would like it, MeMail me.)
posted by notsnot at 6:10 PM on March 16, 2013


I know a woman who's son got a tattoo to match her mastectomy scar. I thought that was pretty bad-ass.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:49 PM on March 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


Oh, very fine. I loved just about all of these.

Not tattooed yet but if I underwent a masectomy I'd look hard at getting the image of a BearWife.
posted by bearwife at 6:59 PM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really liked the lizard!

I have a 2.5 inch scar on my arm from my melanoma which I'd like to transform with a tattoo, but I think my dermatologist wants to be able to monitor my skin without wading through fiery dragons or hobbits or whatnot. Boo. :-/
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 7:08 PM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Work I can understand, but kids? Really?

Oh god can we please not do the whole "But nudity isn't something you should be afraid of showing kids unless you're some puritanical religious person/other massive list of reasons and arguments that make you a dumbbutt for not thinking it's blatantly obvious this is OK and the people against it are the weird ones" thing for the 1000th time?

It's up on the list with cat declawing of things i hate running in to over and over on this site or the greater internet. Some people will never agree, it's pretty much not an argument worth having as no ones minds will be changed.

These are moving awesome photos, and this really just isn't the place or time for it.
posted by emptythought at 7:34 PM on March 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I loved these. Madame Lazonga's site is also worth a look. That there Steph Hanlon - she's something, she is.

Joakim Ziegler, context is everything.
posted by glasseyes at 7:47 PM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find it disappointing that most of these seem to be harvested from the internet, and dubiously credited. Photo credits of "yelp.com" seem somewhat disingenuous. It's a nice thought, and some of the ink is nice, but overall it seems like there could have been some more effort put into this blog post (or whatever you want to call it).
posted by jferg at 8:17 PM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the share.

The ability to create beauty from loss and strength from apparent weakness can be quite powerfully moving. And seeing these women feeling comfortable enough to show these so publicly is also quite touching.
posted by Samizdata at 8:18 PM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love the lizard. A friend of mine has a very cool tattoo over her mastectomy scar--an animal that is significant to her, drawn by a close friend who is a brilliant artist. She said it didn't hurt as much, inch for inch, as the tattoo she has on her inner elbow, but hurt more overall because it was bigger. She waited a couple of years to have it done, though. It's really beautiful, and whenever we're changing or in a sauna or whatever, I feel so boringly symmetrical and unadorned by comparison.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:27 PM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Good for them, although as tattoos, none of these are particularly interesting or original.

And?

Who cares? These tattoos are symbols of empowerment and transformation and that's all that matters. They are not trying to push the boundaries of tattoo art.
posted by chronkite at 8:44 PM on March 16, 2013 [16 favorites]


Am I the only one who had the following cranky interior monologue: "flowerygirliestuff sure, fine flowerygirliestuff yeahyeahflowers flowerygirliestuff YAY SENDAK FINALLY SOMETHING GROOVY THANK GOD flowersflowers yata yata."

My mom had a double mastectomy a year before she died. She was always a flowery sort of lady. Her wallpaper had a floral print. Her plates had roses on then. She kept a rose garden around a statue of the Virgin Mary. Flowery stuff was part of her identity. So if she were still with us and wanted to spruce up her chest a bit I am sure she would have loved the flowery stuff.
posted by munchingzombie at 8:51 PM on March 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


As a rule, I don't generally like tattoos, but I applaud these women and am one hundred percent behind the impulse to get a tattoo in these circumstances. They're beautiful.
posted by BlueHorse at 9:05 PM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Beautiful. Thank you.

I got my first tattoo because my mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer and, based on our shared interest in the book Modern Primitives*, decided to get a tattoo over the anticipated scar. She wanted a Japanese dragon rising up out of the ocean, tattooed over the scar. "I'll go first and see how it is!" I said, and hied me off to a tattoo shop in the Lower Haight.

Unfortunately, it turned out that the radiation treatment meant that tattooing her chest was a bad idea. However, some time later during her treatment, she had (as she related it later) a vision. "I was sitting cross-legged on the ground, naked, and a green vine sprouted from the earth by the arch of my foot. It started to grow, coiling up and around my body and circling my breast, until it coiled up the back up my neck and rose up above the top of my head, at which point it flowered." After that, she visited a local tattoo studio in Chico and had a vine tattooed on the back of her neck, after which she loved getting double-takes from her friends and colleagues: "That's not… real, is it?"

"Hell, yes, it's real," Mom would say. "What's the point, otherwise?"


* Incidentally, if you are/if you know Lee G, who grew up in Palo Alto and sat through summer session Driver's Ed at Gunn High in 1986/87-ish, and who shared his copy of Modern Primitives with the group of friends who used to hang out in the middle of the night on top of Windy Hill, please contact me!
posted by Lexica at 9:44 PM on March 16, 2013


I find it disappointing that most of these seem to be harvested from the internet, and dubiously credited.

Agree. I completely love this tattoo (the pink/grey flower/leaves tattoo that is a sleeve flowing into a spiral flower where the nipple would be). Wish I knew who did it! But besides that, lovely link.
posted by Baethan at 9:59 PM on March 16, 2013


My dad had this tattoo. Granted, neither particularly interesting or original.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:11 PM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think I was still in high school when my best friend's mom got roses tattooed over her mastectomy scars. She was several years out from her breast cancer treatment, I believe. But I remember going to my friend's house, and her mom pulling me and one of my other friends into the bathroom to pull up her shirt and show us. It was the first time I had seen an adult woman's chest, besides my mom's, so this felt a bit awkward. But she was so proud of this new art, so excited.I think the flowers helped her feel more feminine after losing her breasts, as someone mentioned above. But there also seemed to be this huge sense of empowerment about choosing to get the tattoos, choosing what artwork to put on her skin, being back in control of a part of her body that had been misbehaving and very much out of her control. It wasn't a cover-up, or an attempt to remake something that was lost. It was her way of taking ownership again.

I remember feeling super honored that she chose to show me. It felt like crossing the threshold into adulthood, because this adult shared something so personal and important with me. I wasn't used to adults revealing vulnerability or hard-earned self confidence, so it was pretty amazing to have someone do both in one fell swoop.
posted by vytae at 11:01 PM on March 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


I find it disappointing that most of these seem to be harvested from the internet, and dubiously credited.

They talk about that first chest piece having 'gone viral'. For a while, every time I logged onto Facebook, some moron was linking it, claiming they were doing so in order to stop Facebook from deleting it.

Problem was, the picture they were linking to had been uploaded some eighteen months ago. And the people who were pimping the picture was a tattoo parlour somewhere in California who hadn't done the original tattoo, and as far as I could tell, had nothing whatsoever to do with it.

Basically, they were appropriating somebody else's disease and somebody else's creative work to market their own business.

With the unwitting help of thousands and thousands of Facebook suckers
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:38 AM on March 17, 2013


Ah. And I see homunculous has an explanation that makes sense of my paranoid ramblings. Forget that last comment.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:41 AM on March 17, 2013


That said -- none of the versions of the picture I saw on Facebook had any credit on. Which was mostly my point.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:44 AM on March 17, 2013


I am more into fish and snakes and such, but between the chemo or radiation, and major surgery, these women have already pushed the boundaries of badassery. They don't have to have particularly original or groovy tattoos for coolness credit in my book. If pretty flowers make them feel good, more power to them. If my boobs try to murder me, and it's okay with my onco, I will ink the scars with little teddy bears and fairies if that's what makes me feel whole or safe or beautiful or transformed.
posted by gingerest at 2:46 AM on March 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I'm sure these women really give a good goddamn that tattoo snobs might sniff at the unoriginality of their tattoos. Or that other annoying people might preface any comments about their tattoos with, "Well, I don't like tattoos, but..." I'm sure they respond, "Oh great, I'm glad my cancer survival tattoo meets your refined and extremely relevant standards!"
posted by Coatlicue at 8:41 AM on March 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Amen to the comment above...I've been tattooing for almost 20 years and I hear that kind of stuff all the time.."I don't like tattoos but..."

Somehow it's always about the opinion of the person not wearing the tattoo, as if that opinion matters a gnat's fart.

If you're one of those people, read this carefully and remember it:

We do not get tattooed for your approval. We don't do it for attention, rebellion, or fame. We have a million reasons for practicing and collecting art, and none of those reasons is any of your damned business.

Absolutely no one on earth cares that you don't like tattoos.
posted by chronkite at 9:03 AM on March 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


For the record, flowers are fine by me. I was just surprised/interested that so many of the examples here were similar.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:29 PM on March 17, 2013


We do not get tattooed for your approval. We don't do it for attention, rebellion, or fame. We have a million reasons for practicing and collecting art, and none of those reasons is any of your damned business.

I'm sure that attention, rebellion, and fame lurk somewhere among those million reasons. If it's not ok for other people to assume they know a group of people's motives, it's also not ok for you to. And whether a person has tattoo(s) or not (and don't assume you know), they are entitled to their opinion about them.

/derail
posted by headnsouth at 1:25 PM on March 17, 2013


Yeah, whatever.

If the discussion is about blueberry pie the one thing no one needs to hear is that I don't like blueberry pie. People that like it don't care, people that don't like it don't care. I'm just flapping my gums, weighing in on something just to hear myself talk.

And seriously, you don't like tattoos? That's like saying you don't like paintings. It's f*cking absurd.

There's 200 billion paintings out there, and you have seen maybe .00000000000001% of them.

You are entitled to your opinion, but it reveals a hell of a lot more about your limited experience/exposure/disposition than it does about the thing you have an opinion about.
posted by chronkite at 1:48 PM on March 17, 2013


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