Tattoo Tales: It’s permanent, and not like a sharpie.

I’m late in posting today.  The weekend got away from me.  Right. So onward!

I’m doing a series on tattoos and talking about the entire process.  Last week I threw the idea out there and this week I want to talk about chosing tattoos and accepting how they will impact your life.

When I was around sixteen I remember drawing this same bird surrounded by multicolored flames.  I was obsessed with this idea because it was spiritual, mythological and personal.  I knew I wanted it tattooed on me, most likely on my back and I rolled the idea around in my head.  For the next few years I added some other elements to the design until I had what would be my tattoo.  I looked at a lot of magazines and imagined how awesome and bad ass I would be with it on my skin.

No one ever told me how tattoos change you.

You might have a friend who talks about getting a tattoo itch or wanting another tattoo.  Most people won’t suffer from tattoo addiction but if you get enough ink into your system you do run the risk.  The addiction is different for each individual.  Some like the pain.  Others like the perceived lifestyle.  And for those with enough coverage, there is the risk of becoming addicted to an oil in the ink itself.  I’m part of the later group.  Typically I go two years between getting big chunks of work done.

When you’re young you think you will always be ____.

I thought I’d always be plugged into the music scene.

Do you know the last concert I went to, much less worked?

Yeah, neither do I.

The infamous girl who had her face tattooed and then tried to claim it was an accident and created an international stir.

I never thought that my appearance would matter on a day-to-day basis.  I never thought about having to appear professional despite having skin that’s like a rainbow.  If you would have told me that in my mid-20’s I would have a cardigan collection to rival a nursing home, I would have laughed at you.  There are some tattoos and places that are easy to cover up.  Back.  Upper arms.  Upper thighs.  And then there are those that are a hassle to cover up.  Lower legs. Feet.  Lower arms.  Lastly, the ones that are almost impossible to cover up.  Hands.  Neck.  Face.  Ears.  I work in a professional setting.  Every morning I get up and look at my collection of cute tank tops, sun dresses and work style clothing – and groan because I have to pair it with something long-sleeved.

Let me pause to say: I have never regretted getting tattooed.  How I dress for work is a personal choice, but I made that because I want to be taken professionally and seriously.

Tattoos to the older generation communicate negative things.  They aren’t style or expression, they’re vulgar and ugly.  There are exceptions, but say, if my father ever accepted that I’m tattooed (he pretends he doesn’t know) he would never comment about the beautiful designs or how colors like orange and yellow pop on my skin.

Once I had a woman approach me at the mall.  I was shopping for something alone so I didn’t have a buffer.  People often approach me, curious about my tattoos and I talk about them with people.  This woman approached me and without preamble said, “Why did you do that to yourself? Tattoos are so ugly.  You will never be a beautiful bride.”  For a while it upset me, but then I saw pictures of my friend’s wedding.  His wife has fuscia hair and tons of beautiful tattoos.  You know what?  Their wedding pictures are gorgeous.  She was beautiful.  And she was tattooed.  I tell this story a lot when I talk about tattoos because it illustrates different points of view.  You have to be ready for the compliments and the arrows.

I read an article that said that tattoo removal is up 17%.  People get tattoos removed because they regret them or even because they want something else tattooed on them.  Tattoo removal is painful and expensive.  Think long and hard before you make a choice that will impact your life.  Tattoos aren’t like a sharpie, they won’t wear off, they don’t go away.  Think long and hard about it before you decide they’re for you.

Next week I’m going to be talking about picking out shops, designs and colors.  Everything you should think about before you walk through the doors of a tattoo shop!

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