Flavia Carvalho is a talented 31-year-old tattoo artist from Curitiba, Brazil who draws empowering and transformative tattoos over women’s scars caused by domestic violence abuse and mastectomies.
It started two years ago when Carvalho had a client who wanted to cover up a scar on her abdomen that was the result of a violent attack. From that moment on, Carvalho decided to use her skills to help other women.
Carvalho told the Huffington Post how the story behind her client’s scar changed her:
“She told me that she was at a nightclub, and when she turned down a man who approached her, he stabbed her with an switchblade. When she saw the finished tattoo, she was extremely moved, and that deeply touched me. I was suddenly struck by the idea of providing free tattoos to women who were left with scars following domestic violence or mastectomies. Each tattoo would act as an instrument for empowerment and a self-esteem booster.”
Moved by the women’s story, Carvalho started the project A Pele da Flor (The Skin of the Flower). She then started tattooing over scars women had suffered from acts of violence free of charge.
To spread awareness, she shares the before and after pictures of the scars with the stories of how the women received them.
Carvalho said the women’s reactions when they reach out to her are are powerful and moving.
“The sense of affection, sisterhood and camaraderie is deeper than I ever imagined,” she said. “They contact me from all over the country, as well as from abroad. They come to the studio, share their stories of pain and resilience, and they show me their scars.”
She went on to describe how the tattoos impact the women after they get inked.
“They become excited, optimistic,” she said. “It is wonderful to see how their relationship with their bodies changes after they get the tattoos. I follow many of them on Facebook, and I see how, after being ashamed of their scarred bodies, they now post pictures in dresses, and they look happy, changed. It is transformative.”
Some of the photos she shares are accompanied by the stories in media of how the women suffered their injuries.
Carvalho said that the bigger purpose of this project is to shed light on the issue of domestic violence, so she is now working with women’s groups and local police to put her in direct contact with women who may want her services.
However, Carvalho said, there is still much more that needs to be done: “It is a grain of sand; the world is full of things that need to be addressed. We have a long way to go regarding protecting women against violence.”