Koch hypothesizes that women are looking for ways to own their traumatic experiences—hence why they modify their own bodies.
By tattooing themselves, and thus changing the way they look, women with past traumatic experiences can reclaim their own bodies from the outside forces that once harmed them.
"Just as breast cancer survivors and abuse victims acquire tattoos and piercings to restore physical losses," the study’s authors write, "we think the women in our study may be trying to restore emotional losses with more tattoos."
It’s important to note that there may be a link between low self-esteem and suicide attempts. So it might be that inked-up women are actually succeeding at their own attempts at becoming more mentally healthy.
However, it’s also important to note that many women who get tattoos don’t have a history of depression or suicide.
Another note that’s worthy of mention is that the highest number of tats someone in the study could say they had was “four or more.” So someone with 13 or 19 tats would show up in the study as exactly the same as someone with four.