Using Tattoo Art to Make a Statement About MS

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by Ed Tobias |

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There won’t be a lot of my words in this column but there will be lot of pictures. The column is devoted to some very personal multiple sclerosis art: Tattoos. Most of these “tats” contain an orange ribbon, the symbol for MS awareness. Some, as you’ll see, are a bit more expressive. But, simple or complex, each MS tattoo comes with a story, in their own words.

(Thanks to Nellie from the “We’re Not Drunk: We Have MS” (closed) Facebook page, whose post, “Can I see your MS tattoos, please?” gave me the idea for this column. Also, to each of the people who proudly wear these tattoos and who gave permission to share the art that they wear).


Every piece of this tattoo has meaning. It’s on my right leg, because my symptoms started on my right and have always been worse on that side. The orange awareness ribbon is for Multiple Sclerosis. The butterfly is because when you look at an MRI of the brain, it is shaped like a butterfly. The multitude of colors in the butterfly represent the constant changing symptoms and unpredictable course of MS. I am beyond happy with how it came out. Every time I look at it, I will be reminded that I am a fighter. I am strong. I will win this war.




MichelleMS anchor tattoo

This is my MS tattoo. I chose the anchor because most days I feel like I am being weighted down & sinking further & further away from the life & person I once knew. This will be my reminder to not let this sadistic disease pull me under, that I am stronger than it is & I will not let it win. In the next few months I will be adding sand, shells & starfish to give it a full beach look. The beach is my place of peace, tranquility, calmness & my one true happy place.


This represents strength i may look one way on the outside but i’m superwoman on the inside

I have 21 tattoos. I believe you can tell a story through the pieces you add to your body. I was diagnosed at 20 but didn’t get a a relapse till December 2010. My life changed I found myself on disability no longer to work as an RN. I had tons of severe back pain from falls, infection and loss even my leg is at one point..I heard that cannabis worked for pain though as a nurse they tell you it has no medicinal value. I was desperate for relief so I tried one day. To my amazement it worked! It decreased my pain, gained an appetite I lost from constant nausea, gave me strength to walk and made me happy again. I could go on and on about how it has helped me so I vowed to spread the word to everyone it works. I needed an MS tattoo.  I love cannabis so much because it has changed my outlook on life as more positive. I got a huge leaf because you’re either going to ask me about the leaf or about the ribbon.


A few reasons why I got it, one is that it reminds me that myself and many others are in a constant battle with MS and there are some that are unable to fight this battle. By having the orange ribbon I’ve chosen to fight MS not only for me but for those who cannot fight. With Faith Hope and Love we can stand tall and fight MS. The turquoise is a general color for cancer, it represents all cancers. I lost my mother to breast cancer, and my father and a sister to lung cancer. I chose that as well to fight for cancer patients, to not give up, keep fighting and anything is possible.



My new tattoo. The spoon to represent my extra energy spoon (look up The Spoon Theory). The blue rose represents mine, my Mother & my Nana Rose’s favorite flower, the white Cala Lily of course for my beautiful daughter Lillyann, my native feather and the orange ribbon represents my Multiple Sclerosis & the blue ribbon represents my Type 1 diabetes. And the Bee is for the 3Abeegos ??? – my MS sisters.


Just finished my MS tattoo. You all know the spoon and ribbon is for. The feather is there to remind me of my native
american spirituality and to pray to the creator when times are tough. The bee is there for because even the small of creatures can bring people together who are meant to be together .

I was having a really difficult time trying to figure out what I wanted because ever since I had been diagnosed with MS, I had wanted to get a tattoo that had the MS ribbon in it. I had actually come across a few pictures of tattoos other people had posted of a butterfly, with the normal wings, but the body was the MS ribbon. I fell in love with that design!!
Do you have a tattoo story to share? Let us know.
(You’re invited to follow my personal blog at
Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Jackie Conley avatar

Jackie Conley

Would like to get the ms warrior

Scott avatar


Thank you your webpage and I read everybody's tattoo stories I fell in love with a female who has MS but I don't care about that I am learning all I can so I can put a ring on her finger something nobody's ever done because of her disease I can at least understand and try to help her God bless all of you with MS you're all beautiful I'm sure keep fighting and no that I care and I am going to marry somebody she doesn't know what a hundred percent yet but I'm going to learn all I can write thank you so much. Skylar


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