The saying great things come in small packages really describes the latest in tattoo trends. I’m sure you’ve seen someone at some point—whether standing next to you in line at the grocery store or the nurse at your local doctor’s office—sporting a miniscule semicolon tattoo. They’re just about everywhere these days.
But, while these tats are generally small, they pack a powerful meaning into such a small amount of ink.
There’s really nothing small about them.
When it comes to writing, a semicolon is often used to show a separation between two thoughts that both share a common concept. For those who don’t use the written word in a professional sense, it’s unlikely that they utilize the semicolon very often, if at all. It’s not a favorite among common-use punctuation due to its tricky usage rules.
So how on Earth has this least-used piece of punctuation managed to become a world-wide tattoo sensation?
I can tell you one thing, it’s not because the writers came out of their caves with an innate desire to tattoo themselves.
In 2013, a young girl named Amy Bleuel launched Project Semicolon. Bleuel had struggled with mental illness, severe depression, and suicidal thoughts her entire life. After losing her own father to suicide, she decided to do something that would not only memorialize her father’s lost battle but would give hope to people facing the same issues. Today, Project Semicolon gives hope to those who struggle—letting them know that their story isn’t over.
The non-profit’s website has a simple statement listed regarding the symbol of their movement. “A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life;”
People across the world have been inking this small but powerful symbol onto their bodies in droves over the last two years as the movement has gained serious momentum. Some have been marking their skin for themselves—to symbolize the internal struggle they feel on a constant and daily basis—while others have been using them to remember or memorialize a family member, loved one, or friend who couldn’t face the struggle and ended their story.
When it comes to the tattoo design, you’ll find the semicolon being displayed in a few different ways. Most noticeably, you’ll see it on its own—small, solid in color, and in an obvious location. Other times, you’ll see it blended with another image or symbol representative of the person it relates to. And on occasion, you’ll see it paired with one simple phrase: “My story isn’t over yet.”
Tattoo shops everywhere are familiar with the tiny representation of this heartfelt movement as it has become one of the top tattoo trends in recent years. So those who are headed off to the shop to get yours—don’t worry. You won’t have to explain (unless, of course, you want to). They already know why you’re doing this and you’ll find a supportive vibe from the other end of that needle.