“You’ll hate that tattoo when you’re 50!”
“You know that’s permanent, right?”
“Aren’t you afraid it’ll stretch when you get pregnant?”
Ah, the lovely things people who hate tattoos — or at least don’t actively like them — say to people who have them, completely bewildered by the idea that somebody might want to do something to their body that he or she does not.
Imogen Edwards-Jones, a (surprise!) Daily Mail writer, feels it is her duty to “warn” teens to not ever acquire tattoos via a lengthy DM piece titled, “Warn every teen you can! They’ll regret that tattoo… just like me.” Oh, so that’s why she hates tattoos! Because she regrets her own. Her teensy, tiny tattoos from the 80s that she admittedly got as a “act of rebellion.” (Note: Getting a anything simply to rebel against something-or-other is probably not going to lead you to feeling a whole lot of compassion for the piece.) She begins:
Regrets? I have a few. Well, three to be precise. They are shaped like a swallow, a butterfly and the most appalling daisy that grows, like a meandering weed, from the gap between the last two stubby little toes on my right foot.
It is not the best look for a fortysomething mother of two. I don’t really know what I was thinking. But about 25 years ago I went through my ‘tattoo phase’.
The swallow came first. I remember traipsing the streets of Bristol, while I was at university, trying to find a small, grubby parlour where a bloke with more tattoos than teeth scribbled something vaguely avian on my ankle.
Guys, listen: going to a “grubby parlour” to get something “scribbled” is an awful idea. It just is. You will not end up with anything but displeasure if a tattoo has been scribbled on your skin in a dirty establishment. She continues her discussion of this “tattoo phase.”
I am not even sure why I chose a swallow. I’m sure it had tremendous significance at the time. Or perhaps I thought it looked pretty. All I remember is that this, like drinking lots of cider and flunking my first-year exams, was an act of rebellion. And it was as achingly cool as it was painful.
For the record, I don’t think I have ever found my tattoos “achingly cool,” but to each their own (and that doesn’t sound like a particularly bad thing). However, comparing getting permanent body modification to getting wasted on sugary apple booze and literally failing at school is, once again, not a great road to be walking down.
She also patronizingly calls the person who did one of her tattoos an “artist,” in quotations, as though people who do tattoos cannot be artists. If this is true, I’d love to see a non-artist achieve some of the beautiful body art you can see places like here (semi-NSFW).
What I also didn’t realise was how banal my poncy, posed, anarchic statement would become. It seems that every fortysomething who fancied themself a little racy, who did a spot of raving or holidayed in Ibiza in 1989, has a symbolic souvenir on their body. Half the country’s middle management has a flower on their thigh or a musical note on their wrist.
These days, tattoos are as ubiquitous as Primark. Any girl worth her lobster tan and tongue stud is covered in doodles and motifs…
I, too, thought my tattoos were the height of artistic expression. Now, whenever I’m trying to be glamorous or sophisticated, they rear their smudgy heads.
If only I could have predicted the future when I sat there, burning with rebellion, in that Bristol tattoo parlour. If I’d only known how boring and commonplace my ‘revolutionary’ fashion statement would turn out to be.
Hey guys, you know what we should do? ONLY REALLY COOL UNIQUE THINGS. Now, I’m not all about hipster hate — seriously, I am probably most people’s definition of “hipster,” as I’m a writer with a fair amount of body modification and I really enjoy cats — but when it comes to the definition of “annoying hipsterdom,” I’m pretty sure being mad that other people are doing things you have done in the past is just about the epitome of it. People got tattoos long before Edwards-Jones; by her definition, a whole lot of resentful tattooed ghosts should start regretting their tattoos because she wound up getting some 1″ items on her foot and waist.
I am aware my skin will someday sag, but when it does, who cares if it has a tattoo on it? It’s still sagging, right? And that isn’t inherently bad; it’s just aging. Aging tends to happen as you get older. I expect my tattoos to age, too, and I have no qualms with that, as possessing small sectors of skin that simply don’t get older would frankly be terrifying.
Having a tattoo — done properly, safely and by a qualified, trained professional — does not inherently impact the body negatively. Sure, if you get a tattoo on your neck, it may be difficult to obtain a job on Wall Street, but then again, if you are aiming to do something like writing (hi), music or art, it won’t matter quite the same way; it is all an incredibly subjective choice that varies immensely person to person.
If you want a tattoo, get a tattoo. That said, I still find couple’s tattoos weird – but I admit that I have zero idea whether or not people will actually regret them, just as with any piece of body modification. If you hate your tattoos later, don’t go assuming everyone hates their tattoos or that they will “when they’re older” or that you know people’s minds and bodies better than they do. You don’t! None of us do. Not even Daily Mail writers.