Ngoc Like started tattooing at the age of 19 and soon made a name for herself for her scar covering tattoo art.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on August 30, 2021. It has since been updated.
Society's beauty standards dictate that flawless skin with no imperfections is the standard. We all know that it is impossible to reach these standards of beauty. Yet we strive towards a goal that is mostly unattainable. To feel comfortable in your own skin is a great way to live. We can either choose to fret about our imperfections or learn to embrace them. There are many ways to do this. One tattoo artist from Vietnam is helping women with scars on their bodies to regain their confidence and feel comfortable in their skin by converting them to works of art.
"My passion is all about tattooing over scars, burns, birthmarks, or any imperfections on the bodies. I believe that a well-done, beautifully constructed tattoo will not only change a person’s image but also lift their confidence and overcome insecurities," the artist, known as Ngoc Like, told Bored Panda. She started her tattoo business at the age of 19 but it was only in 2015 that she started to make a name for herself as the tattooist who covers up scars with her beautiful tattoo art. She admitted that it is not an easy task at all since a lot of work goes into it but she wouldn't have it any other way.
"Trained as a professional painter and designer at one of the most prestigious art schools in Vietnam, I have a lot of opportunities in my work, but after a lot of experience, it dawned on me that tattooing and covering scars is the endless passion that I really want to stick with and truly belong to," she states on her website. She explained how it is a very time-consuming process because she has to pick the best shapes, colors, and placement for the tattoo to be able to efficiently cover it up. The skin where wounds used to be is usually thicker or thinner than normal skin and is hard to work with.
Tattoos and body art has been frowned upon in Vietnam before. But Ngoc would like to change these misconceptions. "It is my hope that our stories can give people a new perspective about the art of tattooing, about its not only superficial but also spiritual healing power," she explained on Facebook. "I am extremely delighted that I am able to help reduce the stigma of tattooing in Vietnam as well as inspiring so many people struggling with their scars to step up, take charge, close their wounds with a meaningful piece of art and live the happy and fulfilling life that we all deserve to have."
The 28-year-old tattoo artist now mostly tattoos middle-aged women in her small Hanoi apartment. These women go to Ngoc to find a way to transform their life for the better after it was turned upside down by divorce or illness. "I met many women who told me they loved tattoos but they were born at a time when no-one supported them," Ngoc stated. "They have overcome that fear of social prejudice and have a personal wish to renew themselves... to open a new chapter in life." In a way, she is helping these women deal with their mental scars as much as she is with their physical ones.
This "is not just about beautification... The beauty here is giving a woman the chance to be herself," explained Ngoc. Forty-six-year-old Nguyen Hong Thai decided to get a rose tattoo over a scar on her stomach, and the words "forever in my heart" on her arm, to come to terms with the loss of her husband who died of lung cancer. "Now he's gone, I think he would have wanted me to be strong, to be the person I had always been with him," she said. "The tattoos have given me strength and confidence (to do that.)"
For more of Ngoc's work: