From marking new beginnings to commemorating a loved one, there’s more to a tattoo than meets the eye. Four women share their personal stories with us

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Tattoos - they can be beautiful to look at but what we find most interesting are the stories behind them. Each one’s tale is unique and the thought that goes into them often results in something truly meaningful that serves as a visual reminder for a range of different life-changing events. Here, four women share the inspiration behind their ink.

Jessica Pires, founder of Onira Organics, has over 19 tattoos, but it's her most recent one that carries particularly special significance

“I had this tattoo done a month ago after my brother had a really bad car accident. He almost died and was in a coma. When he was in the hospital, the only place that I could kiss him was on the shoulder because his face was so badly bruised - my sisters had to do the same. The doctors said that it was unlikely that he’d survive but fortunately, he did and so I got a tattoo of a pair of lips on the spot where I used to kiss him with the word ‘love’ inside. It’s really special and it means a lot to me.”

Travel manager Alice Linley-Munroe's tattoo signifies a second chance at life

“I got this tattooed on my 30th birthday. 443lbs [31 stone] is the weight I was when I was told that I was not going to reach 30 because I was at ‘catastrophic risk of spontaneous fatal thrombosis’. People thought I was mad for having it done, but I wanted it as a reminder of how far I’ve come and to make the most out of my second chance at life. I went with a friend to get it done and then we drank champagne and toasted to me. It’s mostly hidden by my watch so people tend not to notice it but it’s a great conversation starter when they do spot it.”

Charlotte Wicks, a copywriter for a charity, got her tattoos in memory of a close friend

“I had these two swallows tattooed in memory of a friend who took his life in 2007. He was covered in tattoos so it felt right to get one in his honour. A few friends were getting matching tattoos done, but I wanted something different so I chose these small swallows. There are loads of traditional meanings for swallow symbols and plenty of folklore. I suppose for me these tattoos signified freedom and hope - for him, freedom from his struggles, and for me, hope that life would get better.

“They’re very small and simple, and compared to my other tattoos not very skillfully done, but when I catch sight of them I think instantly of him. That’s what I wanted to get them for - to be reminded of the time I knew him.”

For Meg Brooker, a teacher, her tattoo represents the strength she found after getting out of a bad relationship

“I wanted to get a tattoo following a horrendous relationship and an even worse break-up I had a long time ago. I'm proud that I got through that period of my life and so I felt compelled to get a symbol that signified strength. It took me a long time to decide what I wanted and where...six years in fact. I eventually chose a lotus flower as it grows through murky swampy water and flourishes into something beautiful - I identified with that. For me, it symbolises the power of being able to defeat any bad situation.”