Illustration by Diego Sabogal
If you’d like to share the story behind your tattoo, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include: a photo of your tattoo, a short description of why you got it or why you love it, and your name.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 100 million American adults are currently living with diabetes or prediabetes. Of those with a diagnosis, 90 to 95 percent have type 2 diabetes. And with the rate of new diabetes cases remaining steady in America, education, awareness, and research has never been more imperative.
Many people who have diabetes, or know someone who does, choose to get inked for a number of reasons. Tattoos can help raise awareness about the disease. Getting the word “diabetic” tattooed can act as a safety net in case of an emergency. And for loved ones, getting inked can act as a show of solidarity or as a memorial for someone they’ve lost to the disease.
Keep scrolling to check out some of the amazing tattoo designs submitted by our readers.
“My diabetes tattoo is the only one my parents approved of. I chose to place it on my wrist after interviewing a few firemen while at lunch with my mother. They confirmed it’s a common practice to check both wrists for medical bracelets and tattoos. I began with a simple image and the word “diabetic,” but soon added “type 1” for clarification. My tattoo has sparked numerous conversations, giving me an opportunity to educate. It’s also the marketing image I use for the Diabetes Daily Grind, which is home to the “Real Life Diabetes Podcast” and provides real support for folks living with the disease.” — Amber Clour
“I got this tattoo for my 15th “diaversary.” It’s a tribute to all these years and a daily reminder to always take care of myself.” — Emoke
“I got this tattoo four years ago. I know some people get diabetes tattoos as a replacement for medic alert bracelets, but this was obviously never my intention with mine. Although diabetes is a huge and serious part of my life, I wanted to acknowledge it in a less than serious way!” — Melanie
“I don’t really wear jewelry, so I got this tattoo instead of wearing a medical alert bracelet. Even if there’s actually a cure for diabetes in my lifetime, this disease is a huge part of my identity and my strength, so I’m proud to wear it on my skin.” — Kayla Bauer
“I’m from Brazil. I am a type 1 diabetic and was diagnosed when I was 9 years old. Now I'm 25 years old. I got the tattoo after my parents saw the campaign on television, and I also liked the idea. To be a little different from the ordinary, I decided to make the blue symbol of diabetes with details in watercolor.” — Vinícius J. Rabelo
“This tattoo is on my leg. My son drew this in pencil 10 days before he passed away. He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 4 and died at age 14 on March 25, 2010.” — Jen Nicholson
“This tattoo is for my daughter Ashley. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on April Fool’s Day, 2010. She’s so brave and amazing! Her diagnosis literally saved my life. Not only did we change our eating habits as a family, but three days after her diagnosis, while demonstrating that it doesn’t hurt to check your sugar, I found that my own blood sugar was over 400. A week later I was diagnosed with type 2. Since then I’ve lost 136 pounds so that I could lead by example, be in better health, and enjoy many more years with my amazing daughter who inspires me every day to do better, be better and [stay] strong.” — Sabrina Tierce
Emily Rekstis is a New York City-based beauty and lifestyle writer who writes for many publications, including Greatist, Racked, and Self. If she’s not writing at her computer, you can probably find her watching a mob movie, eating a burger, or reading a NYC history book. See more of her work on her website, or follow her on Twitter.