Mariah Carey can't imagine a bigger compliment than fans having her lyrics tattooed on her body.

The 'Fantasy' hitmaker understands that most people are aware of her biggest singles, but she always feels touched when she sees body art tributes that have been inspired by some of her lesser-known tracks.

She said: ''The truth is, most people, if they know me, they know me for the songs that are the most well-known.

''Or, maybe when they were going through a certain experience they heard a song on the radio that affected them in a specific way.

''People will come up and show me a tattoo of the entire side of their body with a song called 'Side Effects', a duet with Young Jeezy that Scott Storch produced, from the 'E=MC²' album. It's pretty amazing; it's like, that wasn't even a hit song.

''You can actually go online and see different fans' tattoos.

''That's the hugest, highest compliment I can ever imagine: they actually tattooed lyrics I wrote on the side of their body.''

The 47-year-old singer feels proud that she has become a role model for many of her young fans and has helped them overcome difficult experiences.

She told W magazine: '' tend to not put people in categories, because when I was still a kid, I was like, I'll never forget what it feels like to be a kid and to be misunderstood. For real!

''Because I'm biracial, that's one thing a lot of my fans - of all different ages and backgrounds - tend to talk to me about. They're like, '[Your music] helped me get through this'.

''A lot of people are like, 'You helped me come out to my parents', because a song like 'Outside' from the 'Butterfly' album describes feeling different than others and not having people who understand.''

And Mariah - who has six-year-old twins Moroccan and Monroe with ex-husband Nick Cannon - thinks her fans can ''relate'' to her music, whereas she didn't have one particular role model when she was growing up.

She added: ''Growing up, there wasn't that one idol that I was like, They're exactly like me. So, it was a combination of a lot of different people that inspired me. I just had to go off that.

''But I think there are people and certain songs I've done that are deep album cuts that most people don't know. But the ''lambily'' and the lambs, they're like, 'These songs help protect me'. What I try to do is make songs that other people relate to.''