Diabetes Ink

Welcome to the National Historic Site Banting House Online Exhibit Diabetes Ink!

According to Dr. Aaron Wolfgang, “For millennia, tattoos have been used to decorate human skin as an outward symbol of underlying personal and cultural significance.” Because of their personal nature, tattoos are one of the many ways that people with diabetes, or those close to them, find strength and community.  They offer a form of resilience. Given that tattoos are art, there are endless ways that they can manifest.  

Chronic illness tattoos are a healing reminder that, though you didn’t choose this path, you do get to decide to not let it control you.” -Christina Vanvuren 

Vanvuren explains that tattoos are empowering to those who go through the trials and tribulations of having such a condition.

In this exhibit, we will explore some of the various themes that these tattoos take. This exhibit will take you through the ink that has given empowerment to hundreds all over the world. Tattoos are becoming more and more accepted in the public sphere, and as a result, people with Diabetes have become more open to sharing their story via a personal canvas. 

We hope this exhibit is inspiring, meaningful and colours your day. 

If you are interested in sharing your tattoo and/or story, please be in touch with us. 



States and Provinces where our submissions come from!
Places around the world where our submissions come from!

Click a theme to start seeing!


The diabetes community, those living with or affected by, relate to one another through various ways. Common motifs found in tattoos include circles or ribbons. The colour blue is often chosen as it is the universal symbol for diabetes. It signifies the unity of the global diabetes community in response to the rising number of people affected by diabetes.

Friends and Family

Tattoos have become a way for friends and family to indicate their support and relate to the experience of loved ones with diabetes themselves. Tattoos in this section may include diagrams of insulin pumps, or shared art between individuals.

Mental Health

Diabetes is a stressful disease. There are external stresses, remembering to monitor blood glucose levels and ensuring to administer the proper amount of insulin and internal stresses which include maintaining proper blood glucose levels and feelings of personal doubt and or fault when not maintaining optimal levels. Tattoos found here symbolize how many feel – they are greater than their highs and lows.

Science and Medicine

Many of the tattoos in this theme are extremely personal in nature, including tributes to insulin the science behind the disease or a caduceus. Many opt for a medical alert bracelet, as opposed to an actual one both for expressive and safety reasons.


This category celebrates life with diabetes through a comedic twist. The artistic value of the tattoo is variable. No two individuals with diabetes are the same and neither are these tattoos. For them, humour is a way of cheating death.


This category often represents imagery that encompasses many themes, sometimes larger than diabetes itself.

Submit YOUR story/tattoo

If you’re interested in sharing, here is what we are looking for. Please email to banting@diabetes.ca 

  1. Name 
  2. Age you received your tattoo
  3. Age you received your (or your friend/family) diagnosis
  4. Location 
  5. 2-3 sentences why you got your tattoo.

Thanks for visiting!

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