Mental Health Hearts By Callum Glover

23-year-old tattooist Callum Glover works out of Black Craft in Wakefield and Secret Society in Hartlepool and Brighton, where he creates blackwork tattoos. We chat to Callum about the hearts filled with positive messages, that he tattoos to raise money for mental health charity MIND and his own struggles with mental health…

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I got into tattooing after I had  been to college doing non art related courses and after working poorly paid jobs with little job satisfaction. I had been tattooed a few times with pretty poor tattoos before I started tattooing. But I just loved getting tattooed, so I remember going to get tattooed by a guy in his house (cringe)! This guy happened to become my best friend, he showed me a tattoo machine, asked if I’d like a try, so I did, I tattooed a small tribal design on a piece of fake skin made out of rubber. The tattoo was awful, the machine was cheap but I was hooked from then on. I’ve never been good at keeping quiet or staying still, or being told what to do, and with tattooing I saw an opportunity to do something that I’d be happy doing for the rest of my life.

So I looked and looked for around two years for an apprenticeship, all the while improving my art work, trying to find my style, which I’m still doing! I found my apprenticeship and the rest is history as they say.

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What drew me to the tattoo world was properly experiencing the tattoo world. I remember being an apprentice not knowing if I could make it as a tattoo artist, wondering if it was for me or if I fit in. Until I went to my first tattoo convention, as soon as I entered my mind was set to rest, I remember thinking this is it, this is my world, it’s where I feel at home.

Tattooing helped me so much, I could have turned out so differently, due to the struggles I’ve been through, but it’s been there for me and gave me something to get lost in. I’ve done a lot of tattoos, a lot I’m super proud of, but the ones that mean the most to me are the mental health heart tattoos I do.

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I remember where the idea came from, I myself have severe depression and anxiety and I’ve suffered for years. It’s ruined so many friendships and relationships in my life and it’s took me to some dark places. I remember having a really bad few days, where I just shut myself away, I was bitter and nasty, I thought I was a lost cause. Until I managed to drag myself through, with the help of a friend.

In the moments that followed, I decided I didn’t want to get to that point again, not only that, but I wanted to help others. So I designed a bunch of hearts, with positive messages inside. It is sometimes hard to take help from a person, and it’s usually the best option to help someone else to help themselves.

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That’s what these tattoos are, my customers come and pick from my designs or we create a personal message for them together. That way when they feel low they have a permanent reminder from themselves that ‘it’s okay to not be okay’ and ‘you are enough’.

If I was hoping to spread a message, then I think the message would be ‘you are not alone’. No matter how you feel, you are not on your own, help someone help you, reach out, seek help. I want to share love and positivity with every single one of these tattoos. Every single one I do helps both my customer and myself with the daily struggles that mental health issues bring.

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I believe that we can all do more to help those in need, show love, show compassion and show understanding. Just listen, any of these things could save someone’s life – I know from experience. So I’d say the best way to help is to pay attention, notice the signs and just be there for that person.

In Colourful Company Street Spotter

If you haven’t heard of In Colourful Company yet you may have spotted their colourful community walking around a city near you. The group is ‘an all inclusive community of kindness, encouragement and adventure’ that started out in Sheffield just over a year ago.

Their goal is to bring people together in fun and creative ways, and to encourage each other to take chances and make changes, all whilst grabbing their cameras and searching the streets of their favourite cities in search of colour.

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Our music writer Amber caught up with a few from this colourful lot during their Leeds walk to find out more about their creative careers, tattoos and their experience of In Colourful Company…

Name: Kayley Mills
Instagram: @Kayleymills
Job: Illustrator and etsy shop owner
Tattoos: Sleeve and forearm by Raychel Maughan at Northern Glory in Newcastle.

“In Colourful Company has brought me right out of my shell and has helped me meet so many awesome like-minded people.”

Name: Lisa Barlow
Instagram: @lisa__barlow @magicalthunderpress
Job: Illustrator and freelance designer
Tattoos: Sewing sleeve by Sway at Northside Tattoos now at Sacred Electric
Cactus, gypsy lady, castle and snow globe all by Bailey at Sacred Electric

“This is my first experience of In Colourful Company for the Leeds colour walk and it has been loads of fun meeting new people”

Name: Sarah Jane Smith
Instagram: @sj.sdsphotography
Job: Photographer
Tattoo: Rose by Polly at Cry Baby Tattoo

“It’s been a bunch of warm, welcoming, like-minded people who have been great fun to hang out with.”

Name: Alice Christina
Instagram: @awonderemporium
Job: Blogger & Photographer
Tattoo: Wildflower bouquet, by Lea Snoeflinga at Northside Tattoos

“This is my first walk and everyone is so friendly and colourful. It’s inspiring to see so many incredible women bossing it!”

Name: Katie Abey
Instagram: @katieabey
Job: Illustrator and company director
Tattoos: Hogwarts by Vicky Morgan, cat by Jody Dawber, WIP back piece by Ashley Luka, lemon grab by Paul Tipping.

“In Colourful Company has brought me so many new friends. It’s inspiring to go on adventures with amazing girl bosses!”

Name: Nicola Fernandes
Instagram: @fernandesmakes
Job: Illustrator
Tattoos: Lady by Adam Steel, Squirrel by Adam Cornish, Wasted Rita quote by Mike Boyd, Cat and Scribble by Rainey Harley.

“It’s like I’ve stepped inside of Instagram. It’s great to meet people in real life and make connections and hopefully BFF’s”


To find out more about In Colourful Company and how you can get involved head to their website.

Interview with Gaston Tonus

25-year-old guest writer Jessica Miorini chats to Gaston Tonus, an Argentinian tattoo artist based in Germany, as she gets tattooed in his private studio. Between a thigh piece and a Fritz-Kola, they chat about his unique graphic style, his inspirations and his background as a tattoo artist…

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It’s a long way from Argentina to Wiesbaden, both physically and culturally. What brought you here? Here, in Europe, I believe I can express myself better. People give me the freedom to tattoo these crazy things on them and this gives me the greatest satisfaction.

What made you want to become a tattoo artist? I first approached tattooing as I wanted to get tattooed myself. This was 20 years ago in Argentina, where I started to build my own machines and experiment with them. You’ll have to imagine a completely different industry, where there weren’t too many machines available and still a strong stigma attached to tattoos.

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How would you define your style? I would define it as graphic blackwork. It’s also sketchy and dark, but it has something more personal to it.

Among graphic tattooers, your artwork has a distinctive identity. What is your style most influenced by? The work of other tattoo artists, especially here in Europe, has definitely had a big impact on my art. My stylistic influences come from a lot of different places, from painters and cartoonists, like Caravaggio, Dürer, Mark Ryden, Alberto Breccia and H. R. Gige, to film directors, like Kubrick, Lynch, Cronenberg and Hitchcock. Music also plays an important role, there are bands that take me to a dreamland, like Tool, A Perfect Circle and Deftones, among others. I tend to mix all these different inputs together and translate them into tattoos.

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 Your works include traits of both surrealism and dark naturalism. Where do you draw your inspiration from? I find inspiration in almost all things, from nature, dreams and places, to people and buildings. I love tattooing animals, I’m a vegetarian as well, and I’m deeply inspired by nature, plants and birds, as well as manmade objects. I like to mix them, merge animals and faces, and come up with some strange and crazy combinations.

 Do you prefer to tattoo your own flash or enjoy the whole custom-made process more? Most of the time I prefer to tattoo my own pieces, as I invest so much energy and time in drawing them. But if the client’s idea speaks to me and we’re like-minded, it can turn into something even more beautiful, as this exchange of ideas and thoughts can spark my creativity even more.

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What are your favourite pieces that you’ve tattooed so far? I put too much of myself in each single piece to choose one. They all have a unique history or meaning, which will end up being completely different from my clients’.

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Finally, how has your art evolved and what further direction do you see yourself taking in the future? When I started, almost 20 years ago in Argentina, there weren’t many styles and techniques to choose from. You had magazines full of mainly tribal and traditional tattoos, and that’s what I started tattooing. With time, I started to draw more, I studied graphic design and decided to focus on my own artwork.

I never stop, I love spending my time drawing all day in my studio to make better tattoos every day. I keep pushing myself to improve and always keep an eye open for new things that might tickle my imagination. I always hope I will get to know new people, make good friends all around Europe and keep sharing experiences and good times with clients and colleagues.

You’re Not Ovaryacting…

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…That’s the message The Robin Cancer Trust is telling ladies in its latest campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer. The Robin Cancer Trust was founded to increase awareness of germ cell cancers, including ovarian and testicular cancers, following the death of Robin Freeman, 24, of Wivenhoe, after his battle with germ cell cancer.

The charity teamed up with local companies including Flaming Gun Tattoo Studio, Racket Video and Joli Studies to create a social media campaign. Through the colourful use of tattoo-style imagery and video, they want to highlight the symptoms of ovarian cancer that should not be ignored.

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Claire Neal, Trustee of The Robin Cancer Trust, explained how she “wanted to do something different for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, in March this year and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get creative. We hope this fun and engaging campaign will raise awareness in young woman as ovarian cancer is not a silent killer if the symptoms can be recognised early.”

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We chatted to tattooist Julie Clarke who works at Flaming Gun Tattoo in Colchester to find out how she got involved with the project and what it meant to her…

When the opportunity came to get more involved with the ovarian cancer campaign myself and fellow tattooist Alex Bach jumped at the chance. I am now two years clear from my surgery, and I would not have been so lucky if I did not regularly go to my GP for smear tests or to question any abnormal symptoms, so I can not stress enough, if you’re concerned get it checked out!

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The “you’re not ovaryacting” campaign was such a wonderful way of promoting awareness of the possible symptoms.  In the studio, we tattoo some wonderful people who have survived cancer and their family members too. It is a real pleasure to be part of the recovery process, either through covering scars, nipple tattooing, or unfortunately creating memorial tattoos. Cancer affects so many people and every type is worth consideration.

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Specifically with this project, creating the artwork to coordinate with the symptoms was a challenge, but with my colleagues Alex Bach and Toby Freeman, we managed to create the images you now see on the models. The models Tiffany Leather, Natasha Connor, Danielle Robinson, Charlie Newell and Josie Rackley looked amazing, and Racket Video and Joli Studies did a wonderful job of super-imposing our artwork onto them. We can’t believe how realistic they look!

To find out more visit www.therobincancertrust.org.

Yoga with Nina

We chat to 26-year-old Nina Goks, a yoga teacher and naturopathic nutrition student from London, about her vegan journey, tattoo collection and living a yogi inspired life…

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When did your yoga and vegan journey begin? My yoga journey started before veganism! I began yoga over four years ago, I was trying to get healthier, eating a more conventionally healthy diet, running and doing HIIT training. I tried a yoga style workout and quickly began doing yoga more than any other exercise – I enjoyed the peace, strength, release and focus. Before yoga I was relatively mindless when I worked out, I’d just get through it to get it over with and yoga is precisely the opposite.

My awareness of healthier eating initiated thoughts about compassion. I cut out meat and was vegetarian for a few weeks, until I watched Earthlings – I haven’t looked at the world the same since. Compassion, non-harming, living a simple life and being conscious of your health, the wellbeing of the planet and all life are certainly aspects of both yoga and ethical veganism, so it was natural for them to come along hand in hand. Then they spilled out into every aspect of my life and I quit the career I’d been very unhappy in to indulge in yoga and nutrition!

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Sunmer rolls made by Nina

What drove you to make such a huge lifestyle change? I was inspired by several people on social media, I enjoyed following along with their journeys. I was really introduced to veganism on those platforms, it enticed me to do research for myself. I chose to actively pursue it because once you know better, you can do better! It was time to be proactive. I was also having a lot of health issues, some diagnosed, some unexplained and for the most part I’d just accepted them as part of my life. Now that seems wild to me, I didn’t ever associate eating so unhealthily with ill-health – bare in mind I was a total junk food addict prior to the few months before I went vegan.

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Smoothie bowl made by Nina

Has it made you think about your body and yourself differently? Of course! I began to view myself as someone worthy of mindful health, I saw my body as something capable rather than deteriorating. It’s not arrogant or selfish to acknowledge your worth, in fact it’s liberating.

What advice would you give to others wanting to make a change? Educate yourself, watch documentaries, reach out to the online community for support and inspiration. If it’s something you want, then be kind to yourself on the journey. It can have its trials and tribulations but nothing worth doing just falls into your lap, it’s OK to be fearful, to take criticism. If you give yourself the information you need then it’s a much more simple transition. Choosing a positive outlook on something really changes the outcome!

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Pina colada smoothie bowl made by Nina

What do you share in your YouTube videos, what can people expect to see? I didn’t have a specific intention in mind when I started my YouTube channel. I just wanted to document my travels and make videos around the relatively new and exciting lifestyle I am continuing to learn about. So you can expect veganism, yoga, travel, yogi/vegan lifestyle, natural health and minimalism and probably a lot of other totally random musings.

How has your style developed? You’ve started to take more of a minimalist direction, what inspired this? With tattoos, I used to be more into traditional, but I’ve definitely developed a love for neo-trad. Minimalism was sparked by aspects of a yogi life. Living simply and the understanding that you have enough and you are enough. My aim is to have what I need, buy from independent, conscious small businesses or second hand but still use what I have now until it needs to be replaced. We are such consumers, totally feeding into what’s sold to us, when you reign that in you start to appreciate what you do have and where it comes from. My style has definitely evolved to much more clean and simple, tropical and nature inspired, vegan and barefoot living!

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Can you tell us about your tattoos? Do you think tattoos have to have a meaning? My tattoos are largely collected from female artists, but not all, especially anything I got in the past two years. Something about the experience of getting tattooed can become ritualistic. My husband, Goks, is a tattoo artist and his passion for tattooing expanded my own ideas about tattoos, I’d always wanted them, even though for a short time I said I wouldn’t have any that were visible.

That changed quickly, especially once I saw all the unbelievable artists out there. If you feel a connection with an artist, their work and their vibe, it totally changes your appreciation for the tattoo. Mine are really just things I was/am into, I’m not anal about what I get tattooed and often have my own ideas of what I want. I think there is a happy medium as far as meaning goes. If every single tattoo has to be sacred and super personal it could be hard to actually have ideas or be open to artist interpretation.

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When did you start teaching classes? How can people get involved? I’ve been teaching privately for a few months now, since I completed the start of my training. I’m in the midst of organising classes but I am available for private classes in south east London or within local areas. Information about events and classes can be found on my website and Instagram – new classes coming soon!

Careers: Tattooed Make-Up Artist

We chat to 26-year-old Charlotte Amy Tompkins, Make-Up Artist at Urban Decay based in Chester, about her incredible tattoo collection and personal style…

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I was 17 when I got my first tattoo, a small red bow on the bottom of my back in Blackpool. God knows how I even managed go get it! I look so young now, think what I looked like at 17? Thankfully it’s since been covered by my on-going back piece – which I need to get finished! At the minute I’m filling my gaps pretty slowly, but I want to get started on a stomach piece soon too.

I’ve always loved tattoos, I never used to like colour tattoos for some reason, but now look at me! Having my tattoos is such a boost, I love having them on me as they are a part of me and will be forever. My tattoos are mainly of animals and roses – you can’t beat a good rose! I absolutely love animals and roses are my favourite flower.

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Tattoo by @gibb0o

I get a lot of mixed reactions from people when they see my tattoos, they either go one or two ways. I get stared at rudely, some people shake their head in disgust too. I was once on the bus back from work and behind me were two elderly ladies talking about how have I even got a job and I should be ashamed being a lady covered in tack!

But when I’m at work I get amazing compliments and most are from women aged 50 or over, who are so interested and just wowed by my look, which is amazing. Kids love them too, they’re attracted to the colours, I had a little girl who was shopping with her mum recently, who got her mum to tell me that she thought I was beautiful with my tattoos and hair. It’s the little things that make me smile, but some people really hate tattoos for no reason really. But I love my skin thanks to all the amazing tattooists out there!

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Chest and neck tattoos by Paula Castle, Ash Boss and Jody Dawber.

I landed my current position at Urban Decay out of pure tenacity, I just kept going back after handing in my CV and eventually I got through three stages of interviews. I worked in a coffee shop before, I enjoyed it but it wasn’t what I wanted to do career wise.

I’m really lucky that as a make-up artist and working for Urban Decay my job let’s me be myself. I would have gotten my more visible tattoos done eventually regardless, as they are a part of me now, but my job does help. I love how they look and how pretty they are. For those wanting to get more visible tattoos I would think really hard about what you want in the long run and think about how it will effect work first. As I said I’m lucky!

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I’m vegan, and I love that I work for a brand that is cruelty free, I love what they stand for. My typical day depends on my customers, I always sit them down to get to know them and find out what it is they want. At Urban Decay we love showing the off products and having a play, we want everyone to feel good about themselves and raring to come back and try more!

Urban Decay love people being themselves so hell yeah I dress how I want. My style is definitely different, a little quirky maybe a bit weird. I love black but I also liked having coloured hair, big earrings and platform shoes. Of course my tattoos are usually on show as they’re hard to hide!

Interview with Tattoo Artist Harriet Heath

Meet 30-year-old tattooer Harriet Rose Heath. She’s based in Sheffield and works as a travelling tattooer, with a permanent monthly spot at Dharma Tattoo in London. We chat to Harriet about her tattoo style, the body positive Facebook group she started and why no one should ever apologise for their body…

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What drew you to the world of tattooing, when did you start? The first thing was getting into alternative music and seeing all the band members I loved having tattoos and wanting to be like them. I got my first on my 18th birthday and have barely stopped since. I used to work in music retail and after being made redundant, I realised I needed to sort my life out. I had a lot of tattoos already by this point and drawing has always been the one thing I am good at, so it made sense to give tattooing a shot! I used to feel like it was hugely inaccessible and how could some girl just become a tattooer? These days I think it’s too accessible! A lot of hard work paid off though and now I’ve been doing it for over six years.

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How would you describe your style, both fashion/lifestyle and art/tattoos? My style has evolved a lot over the years, both in my work and in myself. I’ve always had a huge passion for tattooing girl heads, but my work used to be a lot darker in subject matter and colour palette. These days I’ve learnt to embrace fun in my work. For so long I felt that I had to conform to a set of rules, and if I did anything too feminine then I wasn’t a real tattooer.

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This carried through into how I presented myself as a person. Embracing femininity within my work has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. I love trying to represent all shapes, sizes and styles of women. Learning to be more unapologetic about myself has made me more unapologetic about my tattooing. I love working in colour, I love creating these fun babes that mirror my amazing clientele. I have quite a strong personal aesthetic that carries over into my work. Strength and beauty have always been the two main ideals I hope to achieve with everything I do.

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You have created a group on  Facebook called Take Up Space, can you explain what this is, why you created it and how others can get involved? I created the group after being disheartened by so many vegan and feminist groups on Facebook. Every time I joined one I felt like instead of championing people for trying, everybody was attacked for not being good enough. Your time online should never make you feel anxious and afraid. I wanted to create a space with like-minded people and really make a difference.

I’m a fat woman. I’m not ashamed to say it and I don’t think I should be. I’m happy with my body, I love how it looks and what it does, but it can be hard to navigate the world sometimes when train seats are too small, when shops don’t make clothes big enough and the world tells you that you need to minimise yourself, to become smaller and that if you are over a certain size, you are not welcome.

Learning to Take Up Space is important. Everybody is entitled to the space that they take up, both physically and more. The ethos of TUS is fat positivity, body acceptance and helping others along that journey in a warm and welcoming environment with other people that you can relate to. No restrictions on gender, size, age etc, it is for anyone who “feels big”. It’s taken me a long time to reach this level of acceptance and happiness about myself and it’s made me so happy to be able to share that wisdom with other people.

Seeing so many people grow since the birth of the group has been phenomenal. People who are now happy to wear crop tops, have bought their first ever bikini, are standing up and being more confident at work, discussing issues with people outside the group that they were too ashamed to talk about before. There is still so much negativity towards fatness, specifically in women, that we face on a daily basis, but we shouldn’t be treated as or made to feel lesser due to the vessel we exist in. If this sounds like a community you want to be a part of, search Take Up Space on Facebook and request to join then keep an eye on your inbox!

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Is it important that people become more positive about their bodies? Body positivity is a huge deal to me. So much collective brain power is wasted in this world worrying about rolls and inches and numbers and scales. I can’t tell you the number of times people have apologised for their bodies when I tattoo them, whether it’s people hating their toes, embarrassed because they forgot to shave their legs, or telling me they are sorry that I have to touch them. It breaks my heart every time. Nobody should ever have to apologise for just existing as they are!

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What would you say to others who are worried about getting tattooed because someone will be close to their body, or they perhaps don’t like their body? Please. Please. Please, do not worry. We have seen everything before. You are never too fat, too old, too hairy, too anything to get tattooed (except too young). Tattooists are professionals and should act as such. If you have self-harm scars, 99% of the time we can cover them for you, also you would be surprised how many we see all the time and a bunch of us have them ourselves. We work with skin all day long and it’s totally normal for us. If you want privacy, most studios should have blinds or screens they can put up to ensure that nobody other than the tattooist will see you. If you pick the right artist I guarantee you’ll leave feeling better about yourself! Never apologise for your body and just try to enjoy the experience!

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Can you tell us about your own tattoos, have they helped you to see your body differently? I remember getting my stomach tattooed and transforming from somebody who was horrified by the idea of my shirt lifting up when I reached for a high shelf into someone who would lift their top and say “look how great this is”. The more tattooed I get, the happier with myself I become. Looking at your body and seeing something you have taken control over, chosen yourself and turned a few inches of skin you once hated into something beautiful is a powerful thing. In summer you’ll find me in short shorts and crop tops because I just love showing off my skin. I’m proud of it not only for how it looks but as a sign of what I am able to go through and come out the other side of stronger.

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