Australian doctor Sarah Gray believed she was the most tattooed doctor in the world, but Brit Kate Rattray thinks she can give Sarah a ‘good run for her money’.
Kate works as a GP for the NHS in West Yorkshire, and after being desperate to get a tattoo for years, she received her first ink at 18 years old.
Now 39, the doctor has turned her entire body into a colourful canvas, covering her arms, legs, back, chest, and sides in permanent pictures and potentially making her the most tattooed doctor – challenging Gray for the crown.
Though she started out with a collection of smaller tattoos, Kate’s artist eventually brought various separate pieces together into bigger ones, making it appear as if each limb has its own picture.
Speaking to UNILAD, the 39-year-old explained:
I couldn’t really count the number as there aren’t really many individual pieces as such now.
I had small pieces done on my back but as I got more my artist brought them together into one big piece by adding in background, shading and extra bits like scattered blossom to go along with the cherry blossom I have down one side on my back.
My arms and legs are fully done, as are my back, chest, sides and mons. Each limb could be classed as one tattoo but saying that doesn’t really describe their extent. The ones on my feet are more individual.
Covering your body with artwork doesn’t come without commitment, and Kate has spent countless hours under the needle.
She believes her right arm alone took 40 hours to complete, with each leg totalling double that. With an average cost of £70-£80 an hour, she’s certainly put a lot of money into her look, but the GP has no regrets.
Explaining the role the ink plays in her life, Kate told UNILAD:
People may see it as a waste of money but I don’t smoke, drink or do drugs, I’ve chosen not to have children and I have something pretty to show for my money.
It takes great talent and skill to be able to draw on the variable and unpredictable canvas that is human skin. This is my self-expression. I was bullied as a child and lack in confidence, but tattoos allow me to be myself.
Though being the world’s most tattooed doctor would certainly be an achievement, Kate has never had an end goal in mind when it came to transforming her body.
She chose to have her legs worked on in case her job prevented her from having tattoo sleeves, but after a while thought, in her words, ‘sod it’. She had her arms covered and continued to add ideas as they came to her.
Although Aussie doctor Sarah has faced judgement for her patterned skin, Kate has had a more positive reception from her patients, with some complimenting her tattoos.
The GP explained how although clothes tend to cover most of her artwork, some pieces are still visible as they peek out from her neck or arms.
She explained how her look is part of her identity in the workplace, saying:
I do tend to keep my tattoos as covered as possible at work but of course bits peep out above collars and from sleeves, and they also show through even 80 denier tights.
Patients regularly comment on how pretty they are, how good it is to see a doctor with individuality and so on.
The receptionists always know who they mean when they ask to see ‘the doctor with the tattoos’.
I remember an elderly Asian gentleman in a traditional outfit telling me how beautiful my (then) hot pink hair was.
In contrast to Sarah, who has found herself kicked out of restaurants because of her tattoos, Kate struggled to remember ever receiving any negative comments.
Despite this, the doctor has still been wary of being judged in the workplace.
I’ve only ever felt judged at work by colleagues, but that could be my own perception rather than real.
Medicine is a fairly narrow-minded and conservative profession at the end of the day, and I certainly don’t look like I fit in.
Nobody has ever said anything to me, as far as I recall, but I do remember a teaching session when I was a student (in the late 90s) where the doctor doing the teaching, himself in his late 20s or early 30s, told a male student off for having his ear pierced and me for my eyebrow piercing, and then went on to say that he didn’t think women should wear trousers!
Still, Kate is proud of her tattoos and knows she shouldn’t be judged for them.
My appearance does not dictate my ability to do my job and my work is all tasteful and artistic. That’s what it is – art. I just wear mine instead of putting it on my walls.
As both Kate and Sarah are so covered in ink they’ve lost count of how many tattoos they have, we may never actually know who deserves the crown for most tattooed doctor! But either way, I’m sure they’re both very near the top spot!
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.