Sure, the thought of having your skin punctured by a needle 50 to 3,000 times per minute doesn’t really excite anyone-but having an image on your body for the rest of your life does.
Last summer, one day after getting home from work, my mom asked me if I wanted to get a tattoo. Of course, ecstatic, I obliged to her offer. I already knew what I wanted to get-song lyrics on my back shoulder. I called my best friend, who stood alongside my mom as she held my hand through the whole thing. It was over quickly, and I loved it so much that I went back three more times for more. For most people in reality though, it’s not that easy.
The older generation has this idea that tattoos are some evil, taboo, thing that makes your body look dirty or unattractive. The questions I’ve received from family members and elders are endless.
“Are you really going to still like that in 10 years?”
“Do you want to have that showing on your wedding day?”
“What’s that going to look like when you’re 80?”
It’s almost funny, really. I’m not sure what my tattoos will look like when I’m 80 years old, but I don’t think I’m necessarily going to care. I’ll probably just be happy I’m still breathing at 80 and my skin hasn’t deteriorated yet. On my wedding day, I’ll proudly show off my tattoos because I wanted them in the first place.
Make-up, clothes, accessories-they all are used as a form of expression, just like tattoos. The only difference is that a tattoo is a permanent expression you’ll always show. Honestly, that’s probably my favorite part of having a tattoo, because I’ll get to show it off for the rest of my life.
When I meet a new tattoo artist-their story is usually the same. They got their first tattoo when they turned 18 because their parents would never allow it. A lot of adults I’ve asked about this topic are not so on board with it. I know a handful of people who had to hide their tattoos from their parents-afraid they would disapprove. I’ve watched friends get kicked out of their house, or even have parents drop their college tuition payments over this. I understand that some parents are “traditional” and strict, but this kind of behavior is uncalled for.
Now, I don’t want to necessarily put all of the hate on the adults in this situation because even teens and young adults have strong disapproval towards tattoos. Our generation is mostly accepting towards a handful of things, but I’ve still met people with those old traditions drilled into their brains.
“Why would you want to cover your body like that?”
“I mean, it looks good on you, but I would never get one.”
When did everyone start believing that tattoos were bad? Businessmen, people of power, and people to look up to have tattoos-some even proud enough to show them. My manager at my last job told us that he had 6, and therefore would never discriminate. Artists, musicians, and creative minds of the world display them while some people are afraid and cover them up when they shouldn’t have to.
I’m not saying you should go out and cover your entire body with tattoos like Trace Cyrus, but at the same time, I’m not judging you if you do. Tattoos have to be special in some way because you liked it enough to get it engraved in your body forever.
Every time I meet someone with a tattoo, I like to ask them why they got it or what it means to them. Some say it’s their favorite quote in a book, or a drawing by their favorite artist. Others have a tattoo to remind themselves to never give up, or a tattoo of their grandmother’s final words before passing. I used to think that it was imperative to get a tattoo that meant something close to my heart-but then I met someone with an awesome mural-like painting scene on her arm, and when I asked what it was for, she simply shrugged saying, “Just because.”
I’m not saying to just go out for the fun of it and get an anchor tattoo on your ankle. “Basic white girl tattoos” won’t make you cooler than anyone else, and getting a tattoo when you’re drunk isn’t always the best idea either. It’s definitely important to know what kind of tattoo you want because yes, it will be on your body for the rest of your life. Going through tattoo removal hurts more than getting an actual tattoo and is extremely expensive.
With that aside, sometimes it’s fun to be spontaneous too. Go ahead-get that tattoo you’ve wanted for years tomorrow. Look up a shop beforehand and see if you think that tattoo artist is right for you.
We need to stop body shaming and judging people with tattoos. You should not be discriminated for expressing yourself in the utmost creative way. At the end of the day, it’s your body- and you have the right to do whatever you want with it. Having a tattoo doesn’t make you a bad person, just maybe a little more badass.