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Celebrity tattoos: the meaning behind the body art

31 JULY 2013 Celebrities from Harry Styles to David Beckham have used their bodies as a blank canvas and have had countless tattoos done, opting for designs such as cryptic symbols, wild animals and sentimental phrases.

With so many A-Listers inking their bodies, it's hard to keep up with who's got what tattoo and why.

HELLO! Online takes a look at the daring celebrities and the reasons behind their tattoo choices. Why does Lady Gaga have a peace symbol on her wrist? And what animal does inked up Justin Bieber describe as his "best tattoo ever"?

 



SYMBOLS

A host of famous faces have chosen to use symbols when deciding on a tattoo design. David Beckham boasts 32 tattoos which he says all have "a meaning" and a few include Christian symbols. The football legend unveiled a tattoo of Jesus and three cherubs on his upper left chest in 2011 that represented his sons, Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz.

"It's Jesus being carried by three cherubs and obviously the cherubs are my boys," said David. "My thought is that at some point my boys are going to need to look after me and that's what they're doing in the picture. It means a lot."

 


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Lady Gaga loves expressing herself through music, fashion and of course her inked-up body. She has dedicated the inside of her left wrist to John Lennon with the peace symbol.

"My peace sign was inspired by John Lennon," she said. "I grew up two blocks from the Imagine memorial. It's actually one block away from where John Lennon was assassinated. I'm a huge Beatles, John Lennon and Yoko Ono fan."

 



Another celebrity who loves her body art is Miley Cyrus, and a common symbol favoured by fellow celebrities such as Kate Moss is the anchor. Miley's anchor is on her right wrist and was done by artist Fabio Satori while in Brazil on her Corazon Gitano tour in 2011.

"Miley told her mother that she wanted something that refers to a safe port, something that reminded her that she always has a safe place to return to," said Fabio. "The significance of the design is one of hope and a reminder to always have your feet on the ground."

PHRASES

Writing in languages other than English is a common tattoo trait for celebrities. David Beckham chose Hindu to spell out his wife Victoria Beckham's first name on his forearm, while Katy Perry opted for Sanskrit to have the phrase "Go with the flow" inked onto her arm. Lady Gaga, meanwhile, had a quote from Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke etched onto her arm in Rainer's native language.

 



Just like her inked-up hubby, Victoria has her fair share of tattoos. From the top of her neck down to her back, the fashion icon has a Hebrew quote taken from the Old Testament, which means, "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine, who grazes among lilies." This was her way of commemorating her sixth wedding anniversary to the football star.

The One Direction boys are covered in tattoos and Zayn Malik boasts the most alongside band member Harry Styles. Zayn shared a snap of his collarbone tattoo and wrote, "For every1 asking what the new tatt means it says be true to who you are." He also boasts one of his girlfriend Perrie Edwards.

 



Rihanna is no stranger to the inking craze and has had numerous tattoos done all over her body. One in particular is located below her right collarbone and reads, "Never a failure. Always a lesson."

The Umbrella singer explained during an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show that the tattoo is printed backwards so she can read it when she looks into a mirror.

"It's basically saying that it's okay to make a mistake, just don't make them twice," she said.

ANIMALS

The representation of animals means different things, and tattoos of the wild creatures are becoming more and more popular with celebrities like Johnny Depp opting for a sparrow and Millie Mackintosh choosing a butterfly.

 



Cara Delevingne followed in her friend Rihanna's footsteps as she got her first tattoo in May 2013. The British model, who is a Leo, chose a lion's head on her right index finger and shared a snap with her fans on Instagram, writing, "My first tattoo!! Lions rule! Thank you so much @bangbangnyc @badgalriri."

One Direction heartthrob Harry has covered himself with different symbols, leading his fellow boy band members in the tattoo department. One of his most significant designs is of two swallows on his chest.

"I like that kind of style of tattoo, like the old sailor kind of tattoos," said Harry. "They symbolise travelling, and One Direction travel a lot."

 



Justin Bieber is another suspect when it comes to tattoos and fans can't get enough of his inking designs. In October 2012 he uploaded a picture onto Instagram of his new owl tattoo, writing, "Before the paps get me."

When asked about the meaning of the tattoo, Justin said, "It means a lot of different things, but it's what's important to me." The Boyfriend singer also tweeted “OWL symbolizes: Wise, Magestic and Powerful. Best tattoo ever”.