Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars

By Reuters/Muyu Xu, Ryan Woo   May 12, 2017 | 09:28 am GMT+7
After trying cosmetic creams and surgery, Wang Jing placed her hopes in the skilled hands of a tattoo artist to make the scar on her belly finally disappear.
Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars

"Whenever you try to reach for something your belly is exposed. It's not nice looking," Wang, 46, said of the scar from the caesarean birth of her daughter two decades ago that would soon be covered by a kitten tattoo.

Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars

China has one of the highest C-section rates in the world, reaching a peak between 2004 and 2008 when nearly half of the country's babies were born using the procedure, the World Health Organization said in 2010.

Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars

This has created a niche market for creams, makeup and plastic surgery to hide the four to six inch scars left by the procedure.
Grace Yuan's 3-year-old daughter Rebecca, touches the caesarean delivery (C-section) scar on her mother's belly, at Samurai Tattoo in Shanghai, China, April 26, 2017.

Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars

Yuan's daughter thinks the scar is ugly, making Yuan want to cover it up. As a dance teacher, she feels awkward when the scar is exposed as she wears dancing costumes. "Now I feel more confident after getting this tattoo. I can dance freely on the stage without worries or awkwardness," said Yuan.

Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars

Some women spend up to 300 yuan ($43.44) for a 30 ml tube of silicone gel that promises to make their scars go away. Others opt for laser surgery costing 2,000 yuan for each centimetre of scar treated.

Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars

Tattoo artist Shi Hailei said he offers an alternative to mothers unhappy with the results from gels and tummy tucks.

Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars

"A tattoo makes a woman more confident. She will no longer feel ashamed to show her abdomen," said Shi, the 32-year-old owner of Samurai Tattoo in Shanghai.

Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars

Shi said he was inspired by Brazilian tattoo artist Flavia Carvalho, who offers tattoos to women physically scarred by domestic violence. He thought tattoos could help improve the self-esteem of Chinese mothers unhappy with their scars.

Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars

Shi performed his first free C-section tattoo in 2015. His shop now helps up to six women per month and sometimes there is a waiting list due to high demand.

Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars

Eason Zhou, 28, mother of a 5-year-old child, checks a tattoo design on a computer with her tattoo artist Shi Hailei at Samurai Tattoo in Shanghai, China, April 25, 2017. She underwent a caesarean delivery (C-section) because the baby was past its due date. 

Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars

Eason Zhou, 28, mother of a 5-year-old child, poses with her new tattoo at Samurai Tattoo in Shanghai, China, April 25, 2017. Zhou has tried a scar-removal product before but it didn't work very well. She saw reports on the artist and wanted to have a try. "In the past people thought tattoos were just for men, but now women are starting to get them too," she said.

Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars

Wang Ruoyu, 37, mother of a 16-year-old son and a yoga coach, poses with her new tattoo at Samurai Tattoo in Shanghai, China, April 12, 2017. Ruoyu had a caesarean delivery (C-section) because her baby weighed 4.25 kilograms at birth. She began practicing yoga for postpartum recovery and became a yoga coach. "I love all beautiful things that make me look better," she said, "I chose the pattern of a crown with wings to cover the scar. It looks nice."

Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars

Li Ling, 34, mother of a 6-year-old boy, poses with her new tattoo, which covers her caesarean delivery (C-section) scar, at Samurai Tattoo in Shanghai, China, March 25, 2017. Ling's tattoo is of a forest under a night sky showing the the Capricornus Constellation. Capricorn is her zodiac sign. "I constantly felt hungry during my last month of pregnancy and I couldn't stop eating. As a result my son grew too big for a natural birth. He weighed 4.18 kilograms when he was born."

Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars

Wang Jing, 46, poses with her new tattoo at Samurai Tattoo in Shanghai, China, March 1, 2017. Wang, who has a 20-year-old daughter, has spent thousands of dollars over the years on treatments to remove her caesarean delivery (C-section) scar. 

Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars

She decided to cover up the scar with a tattoo of "Little Pepper", one of her three pet cats. "I want to be more confident when wearing low-rise pants," Wang said.

Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars

Grace Yuan, 34, mother of a 3-year-old daughter, poses with her new tattoo, which covers her Caesarean delivery (C-section) scar, at Samurai Tattoo in Shanghai, China, April 26, 2017. 

Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars

Kiki, 25, mother of a 5-year-old boy, poses with her new tattoo, at Samurai Tattoo in Shanghai, China, March 15, 2017. "This is my fifth tattoo. I like flowers and have tattoos of flowers on my shoulders and legs. I enjoy getting tattoos, it's addictive," Kiki said. She chose to have a caesarean delivery (C-section) over natural birth because she didn't want to suffer too much.

Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars

Grace Yuan, 34, mother of a 3-year-old daughter, teaches a dance class in Kunshan, near Shanghai, China, April 26, 2017.

Photography by Aly Song

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