Skip to main content

While many people celebrate their sobriety each year it comes around, model and activist Yves Mathieu East commemorates his anniversary in an extremely unconventional way. For East, he wears his sobriety on his sleeve, or in his case, his face. That's right, he has a face tattoo for every single year he's been sober. Take a look at what led this model to embrace sobriety, why he decided to mark his anniversaries in ink, and what he'll do when he runs out of room.

What made you decide to become sober and where were you in your life at that time?

I got clean when I was 17, friends of mine were passing away and I was doing horrible things just so I could use in my life at the time I was mentally starving until faith came along and led me to a spiritual buffet.

Was it difficult to stay sober? Take us through your first year.

Staying sober is difficult every single day, you have to consciously say no, not only to your physical self but your inner self, whenever a thought or action of wanting to use crawls in your mind, especially during tough times AND good times. My first year in staying sober I cut off my phone, deactivated my Facebook and joined youth groups in my community so I couldn’t get text or message invites to parties, and always be busy with something, I also started to aggressively work out, to stimulate my mind.

What made you decide to mark your years of sobriety with tattoos?

I started to get each year of sobriety tattooed on me because I wanted to turn this huge turning point in my life into art and also in making this tradition with myself to get every year tattooed as time went on, was another encouragement to me committing to stay clean.

Why’d you put these tattoos on your face?

I put these tattoos on my face, because when I wake up in the morning and wash my face it’s the first thing I see when I lift my head up from the sink, along with the other face tattoos I have for people dear to me who have died and encourage me even though they aren’t here physically.

How many years have you been sober?

I have been sober for 8 years

How has your life changed since becoming sober and can you partially credit sobriety to your success?

The day that I got sober is the day that I started to fully live, before that I was spiritually dead and just roaming the earth, now I’m spiritually awake and my foot is actually making prints on the earth, small prints but I can see them, I can feel them, I know they’re there, and I am present. If I wasn’t sober I wouldn’t have had any success because I would’ve died, my truest success was the day that I got clean.

Where do you think you’d be if you didn’t become sober?

If I didn’t get sober I would’ve died on the street or died at some guys house

Will you continue to tattoo your years of sobriety on your face and what will you do when you run out of room?

I will continue to tattoo my years of sobriety on my face until I find more crevices on my body, I will never run out of room.