Humans have been marking their bodies with tattoos for thousands of years, with some of the earliest evidence dating back to 3100 B.C.E. Tattoos have been common across the globe for religious, cultural, and ceremonial reasons, and more recently, aesthetic purposes. In the western world, a stigma around the unprofessionalism of tattoos developed, setting them aside for the “rebel” type and writing them off from having any place in the “normal” world.
This attitude is changing however, and in recent years tattoos have made a place for themselves in mainstream culture. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t know at least one person with a little bit of ink. Tattoos don’t necessarily have to serve a purpose (other than being a cool way to display art you like), but a lot of people use them to commemorate something important in their lives, or even as a useful tool.
How does this relate to Banting House or diabetes in general? Many people affected by diabetes choose to commemorate this part of them with a tattoo, some people even going as far as to replace the standard medical alert bracelet with them. As the popularity of tattoos grows, so does the number of people considering adding diabates related ink to their bodies.
Sometime in 2021, Banting House National Historic Site of Canada is planning on launching an exhibit surrounding diabetes tattoos, the people that have them, and the artists who make them possible. In order to do that, we need your help! We’re looking for examples of these tattoos on a global scale. Send a photo of your tattoo, your name and location, contact information (email and phone number), and whether you’re willing to be interviewed to firstname.lastname@example.org! We look forward to seeing your submissions!
This post was written by Madison Bifano, Graduate Research Assistant at Banting House NHSC. Madison is currently completeing her M.A. in Public History at Western University.