A Brisbane tattoo artist says she has been “overwhelmed” by the response to her offer to cover the scars of people with a history of self-harm or abuse for free.
Whitney Devellee said the idea to offer her skills free of charge came to her when she tattooed a friend who felt ashamed of her self-harm scars.
“She was so embarrassed. She told me how much pain it brought her when people would question her about them or make comments,” Ms Develle told The Motherish.
“[After being tattooed] she felt beautiful again.
“She would message me and tell me how overly happy she was, how she could wear clothes that showed off her new tattoo, rather than the clothes that once concealed her scars.
“People were asking her about her tattoo. The scars became irrelevant, a thing of the past.”
Last week, the tattoo artist made the offer in a post to Instagram and Facebook.
“I want you to be able to look down at the scars that bring you pain, embarrassment, shame, and be able to put those feelings behind you and instead feel proud of the body part that now contains art and offers a new beginning,” she wrote.
‘Emotionally overwhelming’ response
Ms Develle’s offer drew such a large response that she had to amend her original post.
I am so glad that mental illness is being brought into the light and that people are reaching out for help.Whitney Devellee
She told The Motherish she thought she might receive 50 emails — but after two days she had received 400.
Ms Develle said she would provide 50 free tattoos between now and the end of the year — and has also set aside time to provide tattoos at discounted rates.
In a second Facebook post, she said the response had been overwhelming.
“I am so glad that mental illness is being brought into the light and that people are reaching out for help,” she wrote.
“I have already been contacted by other tattooists in other states willing to offer similar services.
“The enquiries I have received have been emotionally overwhelming though being able to personally get in touch with you all has brought so much warmth to my heart.”
She also said the offer would not be for people who were still self-harming.
“Please have the courage to talk to a friend or family member about seeking professional help,” she said.
This article first appeared on ‘ABC’ on 8 March 2016.