Gabriella DeMartino’s wrist tattoo says “once upon a time…” which is the first line of most fairy tales.
She kept quiet about the meaning of the tattoo for a while because it’s so deeply personal. She got it for herself and didn’t feel like she owed an explanation to anyone else. But she finally felt ready to talk about it in a May 2017 vlog, where she explained that the tattoo covers up old scars from cutting herself and reminds her that there can be new beginnings. She was sick of seeing reminders of the dark times in her past and wanted instead to see a positive and uplifting message.
So basically at the beginning of every book it says ‘once upon a time.’ Growing up in high school I was bullied severely. I would cut myself. I have scars all over my wrists, it’s disgusting. I’m not proud of it….It’s a place where I really want to fill up with tattoos because I don’t like what’s on there. I don’t like seeing it. I want a better reminder….I thought it would be wonderful if every time I look down on my wrist I don’t see scars, but I see the beginning lines of a story. And that is ‘once upon a time.’ It’s just a reminder that if I ever feel that low again — which I hope I don’t — it’s a reminder that it’s still the beginning. And it’s up to you if you want to end your chapter, or if you want to add another chapter. I don’t know about you guys but I am totally down for a ton of other chapters.
Her hard times in high school were just one brief chapter of her life, even though it didn’t feel that way at the time. Gabi encouraged any viewers who might be thinking about self-harming to stay positive:
I wish I never did it. To those of you who are going through anything hard, please don’t do it. It may seem bad now but everything is going to be better later on, I promise. When you’re in high school you’re stuck in this little world and you think that all that exists is in that high school, but when you graduate high school there is SO much — so much! And that was just one little portion of your life and one little portion of your world. But in high school it feels like that’s all you know. It’s really easy to get wrapped into all that stuff.