Survival Tattoos

Lili Reinhart

Lili Reinhart has a tattoo of an arrow on her forearm which “represents fighting through depression and anxiety.” She has struggled with mental health problems since she was 12 years old and has used both therapy and medications to help mange it. She encourages others to take control of their own mental health and seek out the help they need, advising them not to give up on themselves. She told People Style:

“The arrow represents mental health awareness. I talk a lot about depression and anxiety and my own struggles with it, so I wanted to get it. I saw a quote, it’s kind of like…’an arrow can only go forward by being pulled back, so when you’re going through a hard time, being pulled back, it only means you’re about to experience something greater and bigger.’ So that’s what that represents to me. That was a mantra that I would say to myself when I was going through a hard time, that it it only means it’s going to get better.”

Lili had her own moment of being pulled back to move forward in landing the iconic role of Betty Cooper on Riverdale“Riverdale came into my life when I was going through the worst depression I had ever experienced. And in the end it completely saved me,” she tweeted. The aspiring actress had moved to Los Angeles on her own at age 18 to pursue her career, but her anxiety kept getting worse. Eventually things got so bad that she couldn’t stay and had to move back home to focus on her mental health. At home she switched to a new medication and resumed seeing her old therapist to work on rebuilding herself. She actually recorded her first audition tape for Rivderdale while at home but got rejected. When she was healthy enough to move back to Los Angeles it was with a renewed fervor. She went to an in-person audition for Betty Cooper and landed the role.

The worst times in her life had led to her big break, but when she got the arrow tattoo she didn’t actually know yet that everything would turn out alright. It was perhaps more a symbol of faith that she desperately needed at that time. She got the tattoo from artist Dr Woo in June 2015, right before she left Los Angeles. “Thank you, @dr_woo_ssc! I waited for months and finally got my tattoo today (second one to date),” she wrote.

Actress Mädchen Amick, who plays Lili’s mother Alice Cooper on Riverdale, has a matching tattoo from the same artist, but it’s purely coincidental. Mädchen’s arrow is a symbol of her zodiac sign Sagittarius. They noticed the matching tattoos the first time they met during a rehearsal for Riverdale and instantly bonded over it.

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Sophie Turner

Actress Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones, has a tattoo on the back of her left arm featuring the House Stark’s direwolf emblem and the phrase “the pack survives.”

When she got the tattoo in June 2018 many fans assumed that it was a spoiler for the show’s upcoming final season, implying that the House Stark would be victorious.  However Sophie insists that’s not the case, telling James Corden:

Actually while I was getting it done people advised me not to because it looked like I was giving everything away. But I wasn’t, it’s just a quote from last season. But everyone figures that the pack really does survive.  It’s just a moral that I like to live by.

The quote “the pack survives” implies that there is strength in unity.  It was first said by Sansa’s father Ned Stark, but is repeated by Sophie’s character in Season 7 Episode 7 The Dragon and The Wolf, where she tells sister Arya Stark (played by Maisie Williams):

When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.

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Iggy Azalea

Iggy Azalea announced that her next album would be called Surviving the Summer (the name was later changed slightly to Survive the Summer) in November 2017 and in December she revealed a new tattoo of the album’s initials “STS” on her right knuckles in the same font as the album art.

These “STS” tattoos are the third time that Iggy has put an album title on her hands.  The previous two, The New Classic and Digital Distortion, were on the sides of her fingers.  In each case she got the tattoo well before the album’s release date, and for Digital Distortion the album never ended up getting released.  In an interview with 103.5 KISS FM she joked about what she might do if Survive the Summer never saw the light of day:

I have my knuckles tattooed….and they say “STS” which stands for “Survive the Summer” which is the title of my album that I’m going to put out in summer — fingers crossed, or this tattoo is going to have to get changed. It’s just going to be super awkward. Or I may have to get my other hand tattooed.

She chose the title Survive the Summer because the songs represent all of the vibes and emotions of summertime.  She told Extra:

It’s way heavier rap, a bit grimier. Aggressive, twerkable, very sexy. It’s summer! To me, if summer was personified I think that summer is hot and sexy and aggressive. And you go out with your friends and you have a good time and you have romances and crazy adventures.

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Juliet Simms

In December 2013, Juliet Simms got this tattoo on her left bicep which says “But only the tigers survive.”  This a a quote from author and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s book Keeping Scientology Working. Her parents are both very active in the church of Scientology. (more…)

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Janel Parrish

Janel Parrish covered up the old treble clef tattoo on her wrist with a lotus flower in May 2015.  The lotus symbolizes survival through hardships. “Finally got my lotus. A lotus is the only flower that can grow in mud. Through darkness blooms beauty if you let it,” she writes.

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Skylar Grey

Skylar Grey has a tattoo on the left side of her neck of two crossed hatchets. The image is in the negative space, with gray ink spread around it like a spray-paint stencil.

The hatchets represent the time that Skylar spent living in the woods and learning to survive on her own. She has used the same crossed axe design as her logo.

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Ash Costello

Ash Costello has a tattoo a razor blade cutting her wrist to represents her struggles with depression and everything that she has overcome. She writes:

“My Friday the 13th tattoo with the @nydrock boys. To remind me…..I have survived the worst times, the fucking worst, but I pushed through it and now I’m enjoying the best times with my best friends.”

She got this tattoo on September 13, 2013 as part of a tradition in which tattoo parlors give discounted tattoos on every Friday the 13th.  Usually the tattoos have the number 13 in them, and Ash’s razor blade has “XIII” which is the Roman Numeral for 13.

“I have a lot of Friday the 13th tattoos because I’m a big advocate of $20 tattoos. I have my razor blade, and the heart, and the Misfits, and other little things.”

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Skylar Grey

Skylar Gray has a large forest scene tattoo covering her whole back. The tattoo represents a period in her life where she lived in the woods in Oregon before re-inventing herself. This time was essential to her growth both as a person and as an artist.

“I moved into a cabin in the woods and I was broke and I was down on my luck and depressed. It was there that I proved to myself that I could survive anything. And when I came out of the woods I wrote ‘Love The Way You Lie’ and that changed my life forever. So that tattoo represents that whole dream to me.”

The imagery of tattoo includes storm clouds and lightning bolts to represent her struggles and cabin to represent her shelter in the storm. The more lighthearted part of the tattoo is a lumberjack clown which was inspired by her tattoo artist Mister Cartoon’s affinity for clowns.

“I wanted a lumberjack. Mister Cartoon has this signature thing that he does clowns. So I thought, why not just make it a lumberjack clown? Because that’s what I do, I mix weird stuff together. My album is like that, my fashion sense is like that,” she told Amp Radio.

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