Good Geisha Donates Expertise to Acid Burn Victims in India

Posted by in Paths Of Yoga, Yoga on the Road

My very good friend Amber, owner and head tattoo maven at The Good Geisha in Toronto, has been tattooing women cosmetically since way before perfect eyebrows were a basic staple of the modern female face. When it was embarrassing but still liberating, and always taboo. She has tattooed nipples on women who have had mastectomy’s, giving them new confidence in their post-cancer bodies and she has done the micro-blading of all the blonde women in my family – including myself, forever liberating us from the bald face look. My mother almost cried after getting her eyebrows done, she looked at me and said, “this changed my life”. No longer worried about getting her face wet in a pool, or humidity; one eyebrow sliding off her face at a lunch meeting. And that’s just the cosmetics.

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I can only imagine if she can improve my life drastically with the invention of real-looking eyebrows, what it must be like for someone with a scar across their face, or only one nipple, to have that changed forever.

She has planned to go to India to help reconstruct the damage done by acid burns. She’s donating her time and craft, along with her husband, completely free this January 2018. Her passion for reconstructive tattooing is endless and her impact on this fringe industry is hopefully changing how people see tattoos.

I reached out to Amber after hearing about this amazing trip to ask her a few questions about it.

How did you get hooked up with The India Project?

Back in August I had a woman from Wisconsin research and find me to do her brows.  When she came to her appointment she was really impressed with all of the reconstructive tattoo work we offer and mentioned that this could be a great addition to her organization.  The India Project Inc. which was founded by her father and 8 time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Dr. Sharad Dicksheet in 1968.  Since his passing, Supriya (his daughter) is now running the organization and is growing it exponentially.  She lives, eats, and breathes for her cause, and that resonates deeply with me.  By the end of her 60 min appointment I had committed to joining the team in January 2018.

“I am the first reconstructive tattoo artist to take on a mission of this kind, and I am so grateful for the opportunity.”

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I’ve always wanted to give back with my art form in some way, but met a lot of roadblocks and political red tape.  For instance did you know that the Breast Cancer Foundation of Canada will not acknowledge my work even as a donation?  They will not take the responsibility for referring me.  So since I’m busy running my actual business I put that on the back burner for awhile. Then Supriya walks into my door and hands me the exact opportunity I’ve been looking for.  All under the umbrella of The India Project Inc. insurance included!!  Seriously win-win.  All I have to do is fundraise for my travel expenses, and supplies (link to my GoFundMe below).  I’ve chosen to 100% donate my time so I am taking 3 weeks off to do this mission.  My husband is also taking time off work and donating his time as my intake assistant and for setup and tear down.  We will be piggy backing on existing free surgery camps that are established with scheduled dates and times.  The local team has already done a wonderful job at spreading the word within the communities about what I’m offering.  I’ve asked that the minimum age be 16 years old.  Mostly girls I believe.  All victims of acid burns.  The stories vary, and are heart breaking of course.  Some may be simple and just need a new eyebrow, others perhaps more complicated and requiring scar tissue camouflaging, and mouth/ lip reconstruction.

Do you have any long-term goals for this project? Is it just a one-off?

The goal Supriya and I are working towards is to setup my own free camp separate from the surgeries, operating with more artists, and providing these simple but life changing procedures.  Often these people will pilgrimage on foot for days to wait in line, to just be told sorry surgery isn’t an option for you.  With my work I’m hoping to provide these young girls with the new lease on life they are so desperately looking for.  As we know India is all about saving face, you don’t look right and you’re automatically devalued.  I’m not interested in changing the culture, but If I can put an eyebrow back on your face so you can get a job then sign me up.  I’m in.

What are your expectations and goals when you get there? What are you hoping to achieve?

My goal is to offer 100 free procedures.  This may vary depending on what type of scenarios/ patients I’m faced with. Some may be more time consuming than others.  As an artist I’m hoping to learn from this intensive exposure to scar tissue, and continue building my skills through this unique experience.  I’m hoping to grow as a person by building strength through compassion.  Guiding my patients with love through the last leg of their tunnel of trauma and pulling them out on the other side put back together if only just a little bit.  I also look forward to starting a new type of conversation within the tattoo community, that’s the opposite of the past.  Tattoos in order to help get you a job, in order to get married, to fit in the “norms”.  A new art, an art that put the pieces of ones life back together.

If you want to support her campaign and trip, please check her GoFundMe here.

If you are in Toronto and you need something busted, fixed up; The Good Geisha is the only place I would trust my face.

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(photo from: viewthevibe.com)