How one woman's tattoo journey allowed her to overcome bullying and beauty standards.
"I’m able to let people know that they’re not alone and things do get better, and high school — high school isn’t forever."
Caroline Grace is covered head to toe in tattoos.
They make her stand out, but that wasn't always her goal, especially as a teenager.
"I didn't like the way I looked," Caroline admits. "I started to wear makeup to feel good about myself. But then I'd get bullied for how I wore makeup."
It didn't help that her family moved around a lot, which resulted in her having to adjust to six different high schools.
"I got put down a lot," says Caroline. "I got made fun of. It was very hard for me."
As she struggled to fit in, it was around that time that she also developed a love for tattoos.
Just a few of Caroline's tattoos. Photo via Dermablend.
Caroline got her first tattoo when she was only 15, but it didn't turn out exactly as planned.
The tattoo was very large and on her chest, so she bought Dermablend to help her hide it from her mom, which worked amazingly well.
She had fallen in love with tattoos after that first one, though, and pretty soon, had collected a whole slew of them to the point where she stopped keeping count.
And the more tattoos she acquired, the more beautiful she felt.
Photo via Dermablend.
"When I look at tattoos, I see beauty and self-expression," says Caroline.
Her distinctive look, which she has grown to embrace, has inspired others to find their own definition of beauty as well.
It's a huge part of why the 24-year-old has over 380,000 followers on Instagram.
She started her account like anyone else — just posting photos she thought were cool — but she also made a point of really putting herself and her body art out there. Ironically, the thing she tried so hard to keep hidden from her family was the very thing that sparked her sizable fan base.
Now she feels like she can finally help teens and adults who might be struggling with self-esteem issues for one reason or another.
"I’m able to let people know that they’re not alone and things do get better, and high school — high school isn’t forever," says Caroline.
Does she still cover up her tattoos sometimes? Sure, but not because she's hiding.
Dermablend allows her to change up her look, which is all about self-expression and fun.
"It’s pretty fun to be able to cover up just one tattoo," says Caroline. "My skin doesn’t really define me. My tattoos aren’t who I am."
She's been using Dermablend since she was a teen because it fully covers her tats, but still feels light, which is good for her sensitive skin.
Photo via Dermablend.
When she's sporting all of them, she tends to get a lot of attention in her small town of Newport, Pennsylvania, but she's usually happy to answer questions about her look.
"I'll talk to people on the street who approach me about my tattoos," Caroline says. "If they can walk away having learned something or with one less stereotype, I think that's cool."
After all, beauty comes in all sorts of packages. The more people like Caroline who are regularly challenging beauty norms, the more space we create for people to be their authentic selves.
She may have a busy life of managing a clothing business and running after her 6-year-old son, but Caroline still makes time to sit in front of a mirror and take herself in. Whether she decides to put on makeup on any given day or not, she does it to enhance who she is rather than hide. And that person is beautiful, tattoos or no tattoos.
"At the end of this journey, I hope to fully love myself, and I know I’m getting close," says Caroline.
Check out Caroline's whole story here: