Back in 2007, when a then 18-year-old Adele got paw prints tattooed on her breasts in homage to her beloved family dog Max, she thought she’d love them forever. Newfoundland Max had just turned eight which is the average life expectancy for his breed, and Adele wanted a permanent reminder of her furry friend, ready for when the inevitable happened. So got a large paw print tattooed above each breast – each eight inches wide and three inches tall.
Then student Adele popped along to a local tattoo studio in her hometown of Leicester clutching an image of a paw print she’d printed off the internet, along with a tracing of Max’s giant paw print. She spent an hour perfecting the design with the tattoo artist and left feeling pretty chuffed, after handing over £100. Despite her nan saying she hoped the tattoos would ‘rub off’, Adele was initially really pleased with them.
‘I went to university in Portsmouth where everyone noticed my tattoo, which I loved,’ she recalls. ‘I was in the buzz of freshers, always getting my boobs out and showing my tattoos off. I guess it became my “thing”.’ But her feeling of elation only lasted a year, when people started making snide remarks. ‘I started getting negative comments and being called names like “Paw Tits”. They were the first thing that everyone noticed,’ Adele says. ‘Everything became about my boobs and the tattoos, and not about me. ‘Even if they were slightly on show and someone noticed, I’d shudder and want the ground to swallow me up.’
The now 28-year-old charity worker said she completely changed her style to cover up her tattoos. ‘I hated my boobs and what I’d done to myself,’ she remembers. ‘I started wearing high-neck tops, even in summer. I’d be sweating just so I could cover them up.’ Adele says her love life has been affected by her paw prints, saying her ‘self confidence has been shattered by them’. ‘I’m sure that’s why I haven’t had many relationships lasting for more than a month in 10 years,’ she reveals. ‘Blokes get the wrong idea about me. They think I’m easy which is not what I am like at all.’
Adele has now started laser treatment at the sk:n clinic in Leicester, which uses the technique to remove 20,000 tattoos every year. She’s understandably quite excited. ‘I can’t wait to have my paw prints removed,’ she says. ‘The clinic does it by allowing the light produced by the laser to pass through the skin and break up the tattoo ink into tiny particles, which are disposed of through the body’s immune system. ‘It’s going to take 18 months and costs £1,000, but it will be worth it if it means I can be happy in my own skin.’