While tattoos can be beautiful representations of who people are, sometimes, they can also hold us back in the harmful ideologies of our former selves. So, this tattoo artist is doing what he can to help people grow from their hateful pasts, showing us it’s never too late to right a wrong and that even something permanent can be written over!
“Cover-up” tattoos can account for between 30 and 40 percent of a tattoo studio’s business, 1 which can translate to a lot of people coming in and rethinking their past choices. It’s far from an uncommon practice and often impacts clients deeply, allowing them to feel more connected to their bodies.
But for the people who visit Billy Joe White and his crew in his Ohio shop, it’s a life-changing experience—helping them break from reminders of their hateful, hard pasts, and tell the true story of who they are today.
So, let’s walk through the doors of this little shop to hear stories of incredible change and immeasurable growth out of hatred, from people who’ve come out wearing new skin.
We’ve all heard stories of tattoo regret. Maybe they’re the stick and pokes your friend got, the trendy design they grabbed because everyone else was getting it; maybe they are in a bad place or have words and symbols that represent whatever beliefs they held at the time.
People get these designs thinking that they’re perfect and will represent them forever, and then their life changes. Years go by, experiences happen, people grow and their views on life are influenced, and sometimes, that tattoo that once brought them pride now brings them immense shame. It can freeze our beliefs and growth in time, making any positive steps forward difficult to grasp.
This rings particularly true for some of the individuals who walk into Billy Joe White’s shop, Red Rose Tattoo. These clients are after something in particular: to move on from their racist pasts. And Billy is offering a way to start.
Billy knew that his Appalachian community has long had a history of racism, and has found a way to help this monumental problem how he can by welcoming people into his shop for free coverups over their hateful tattoos.
See how this tattoo artist is helping people grow from their hate, to help heal themselves and their communities in this beautifully made film from Cy Dodson of Triumph Pictures.
We change, we learn, we evolve.
No one is the same person they were a decade ago. But sometimes, we alone don’t have the resources needed to effect big change in our lives. We need a little help! So when people like Billy add something to what they’re already doing that extends that hand, the effect can be startling; allowing us the chance to remove that tether to our past and put something beautiful in its place.
Giving just one person this space to change can ripple through an entire community.
“When you’re not helping society move forward, you’re bound and determined to see it crumble in front of you.” — Billy Joe White, owner of Red Rose Tattoo
Settle into these articles to hear more stories of people looking at what they’re already doing and uncovering new possibilities; possibilities that are allowing others to build brighter futures.
Do you have any tattoo stories? I’d love to hear them! Send me an email at [email protected].
Stay open to new possibilities!
“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” —Albert Einstein
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- Sanders, Clinton R. “Tattoo Consumption: Risk and Regret in the Purchase of a Socially Marginal Service.” ACR North American Advances, vol. NA-12, 2020, www.acrwebsite.org/volumes/6350/volumes/v12/NA-12. Accessed 18 Feb. 2020. ↩
- Triumph Pictures. “Beneath the Ink.” Vimeo, 18 Feb. 2020, vimeo.com/381369278. Accessed 18 Feb. 2020. ↩