The Real Meaning Behind Keke Palmer's Tattoos

If Keke Palmer — born Lauren Keyana Palmer — has done anything in her career, she has surely taken control of it and made it her own. The child star — who famously starred in the 2006 film Akeelah and the Bee and the hit Nickelodeon show True Jackson VP — grew up to become a talented singer, television show host, and an activist against racial injustices and sexual assault. Her bold personality has attracted a strong fan base of people who love her honesty, sense of humor — who could forget her viral "Sorry to this man" meme – and unfiltered realness. 

In line with Palmer being herself at all times, the young actress possesses a physical timeline of some of her big life moments via her tattoos. She even joked in a since deleted tweet (via MTV News) that she was "addicted" to ink. Keep scrolling to learn more about the "Snack" singer's body art. 

Keke Palmer's smaller tattoos have deep meanings

Keke Palmer's tattoos include large and small designs, script, colorful illustrations — an eclectic palette. One of her most noticed tattoos is a quote from Greek philosopher Aristotle that reads, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." Seventeen magazine noted that the singer-actress found the quote on and connected with it so much she decided to etch it on her body. 

One of her smaller tattoos, a line of text along her right forearm (pictured) was actually inspired by an ex-boyfriend. In a 2017 Instagram caption she explained the story behind the tattoo. "I dated a guy that always said 'nobody gets it right on the first try.' I loved the quote so much I got it tatted on my arm. But the gag is he was right, I didn't get it right on my first try ... which is why I'm done with his a**." 

Palmer also has her first name (Lauren) on the inside of her right wrist with a tiny crown, according to Steal Her Style. Talk about queen things. 

Keke Palmer's misunderstood neck tattoo honors an African queen

Some people believe actors should keep their bodies as clear as possible, avoiding tattoos that could potentially hinder job prospects. Keke Palmer doesn't subscribe to that thought process. She does what she wants with her body and is happy about it. 

In 2016, Palmer got a series of pyramids on the back of her neck with the words "Queen of Kush" underneath. Some fans criticized her decision, linking the tattoo with a particular strain of marijuana, per Atlanta Black Star. However, the "Thick" singer explained the deeper meaning behind her ink piece via a lengthy Instagram post. She said Kush was "an ancient African Nubian kingdom situated on the confluences of the Blue Nile, White Nile and River Atbara" that at one point in history "controlled the entirety of Egypt itself with Kushite [Pharaohs] ruling." Palmer was drawn to the kingdom's culture. "What I love most is [its] history's of female rulers!!" she said. "In school, we very rarely ever learn about female rules and never about African rulers. Amanirenas was one of the most famous Queens of Kush."

Keke Palmer endures 'pure pain' to add art to her body

Along with her "Queen of Kush" tattoo, Keke Palmer also has a full garden of flowers along her ribs and upper thigh. In 2018, she posted a fresh, still swollen photo of the massive piece on Instagram with a caption that read, in part: "Eight hours of pure pain. The first 5/6hrs I was completely fineeee. Handling the pain perfectly well ... then IT BECAME WAYYY TOO REPETITIVE."

Palmer explained the meaning behind the beautiful piece. "A wonderful memento from my time in Budapest and an awesome addition to what was once just one lone sunflower and butterfly." 

As of August 2020, Palmer reportedly has about 11 tats, including an anchor on an ankle (which she shares with her best friend), interlocking hearts behind an ear, and the Bible verse "Don't cast thy pearls before swine" under one of her breasts. Though 11 may seem like a lot of ink to some, it doesn't look like the "Virgo Tendencies" singer is slowing down anytime soon.