Woman who had stars tattooed on face as rebellious teenager says no-one will employ her now

A woman who had stars tattooed on her face says she's stuck on benefits because no-one will give her a job.

Kay Bennett, 33, says the tattoos she had done in her late teens have turned her into a recluse and led to depression.

It has even caused her to put on weight - she used to be slim size 12 but has increased to a size 18 as she comfort eats.

"People take one look at me, see the stars and automatically think I’m a criminal or on drugs," she says.

"I’ve applied for 40 jobs in the last year alone. But as soon as I turn up for an interview I can see that person looking at the stars on my face.

"As soon as they see those stars, and the other tattoos on my neck and hands, their mind is made up. They are not going to employ me."

Miss Bennett, from Swindon, Wilts, was 18 when she had the first set of tattoos – which depict a boyfriend’s name done on her arms.

She said: "I was bullied at school for my auburn hair being called ginger.

"I thought if I had tattoos I would look hard and people would think twice before picking on me."

Over the next six years Miss Bennett had 18 tattoos done on her arms and neck. And she worked as a security guard.

But aged 24 she decided to have six tattooed stars done on her face. And she claims that was when problems began.

"My parents never liked my tattoos. But as they were mostly covered up with clothes, they weren’t too bothered.

"However, when I had the stars tattooed on my face, they were horrified. My dad said I looked a right state. They were so ashamed they didn’t want anything more to do with me."

She claims her facial tattoos caused people to see her differently.

"I’d finished working in security but couldn’t get another job. I noticed I only attracted bad boys. Nice guys don’t fancy me because of my tattoos."

In March last year she finally gained employment looking after dogs when owners were at work.

"I started off working as a volunteer and people got to know me.

"However, other staff were wary of me because of how I look. I didn’t get invited out with them and I was so upset I had to resign."

Since then she has been unable to find another job and has spiralled into a depression.

"I can’t go out because I feel everyone is staring at me," she says.

"I come from a middle class family. I am well spoken but as soon as people see me they think I’m rough and common.

"People judge me on my looks and rarely bother to get to know me."

Matters have been made worse as depression over the tattoos has caused Miss Bennett to put on weight.

"I used to weigh ten stones. But my tattoos have caused me to become depressed," she says, "and I began comfort eating. I now weigh 16 stones and am just getting fatter."

She is telling her story in the hope that someone can offer her laser treatment to get the tattoos on her face, neck and hands removed.

"I can’t afford to have it done. However, I’m absolutely desperate to get rid of them. But until they are removed, I won’t be able to find a job and will be stuck on benefits.

"I hope my nightmare will make anyone think twice about having such visible tattoos especially on your face, neck or hands."