Tattoos, especially prison tattoos, can be painful reminders of a past you'd rather forget. Freedom Tattoos, a program run by Pedagogium Warsaw School of Social Sciences in Poland, is helping ex-convicts cover up their prison tattoos with professional and more socially appropriate tattoos.
While tattoos are becoming more acceptable in the US workplace, Freedom Tattoo states that ex-convicts in Poland "struggle to get a job due to their prison tattoos" and that their prison tattoos prevent them from "full social rehabilitation." I imagine that the prison affiliation of these tattoos adds an extra stigma that's not placed upon those with more conventional tattoos. What makes things even more difficult is that prison tattoos, which are usually applied using handmade tools by amateurs, can often be difficult to remove and can cause scarring.
In the promotional video, Professor Konopzcyński at the Pedagogium Warsaw School of Social Sciences explains that the program hopes to give ex-convicts a chance to move forward and join the workforce. "At Pedagogium we teach that social rehabilitation is not about erasing the past, but rather building on it based on one’s talents and passions," he says. "Sometimes the slightest change in one’s life can bring the best results."
It's wonderful to see the transformation in one of the women in the video. For 12 years she's covered up her tattooed arm, but by the end of the video her face is lit up with the joy of being able to show a part of herself without feeling shame. If covering up a reminder of a difficult past can brighten somebody's day, I'm all for it.