Stop and think before you get forever inked

Not everyone can claim no ‘ragrets’ in the casual culture of tattoos


Autumn Lee, Life Columnist

Tattoos are permanent pieces of art.

They are a form of expression, and it seems like everyone is into them — even grandmas.

I entered adulthood in a time when it wasn’t just motorcyclists and sailors who had tattoos.

One in five Americans sports ink, so it’s not surprising that 40 percent of millennials report having tattoos, according to an October 2016 Atlantic article.

Through my teens, I was passionate about getting inked and kept Pinterest boards with designs I hoped I would get on my body someday.

But that changed when I was 15 and learned about stick and pokes from a magazine.

Stick and pokes are homemade tattoos that are done by sticking an ink coated needle in and out of the skin freehand, according to a Sep 2015 Cosmopolitan article.

As soon as I got my hands on some India ink and sewing needles, I was working away, leaving some not-so-pretty things on my thighs.

I look back on them now and often regret my hasty decisions.

After putting my body at risk of infections from amateur tattooing, I finally got my first professional tattoo by an artist after turning 18.

I had to beg my parents to allow it.

They grew up in a generation where tattoos had trashy, low-class connotations.

We settled on the ankle, a spot future employers would hardly see. Little did they know, I had already strategically placed stick and pokes out of sight as well.

Since that little bouquet of flowers on my ankle, I’ve continued to get little tattoos that appeal to me.

I even have a quote reading, “l’art pour l’art,” which means make art for the sake of art, to show my dedication and love of the arts.

With their rise in popularity and cultural acceptance, I’ve noticed the individuality and personal meaning that used to come with tattoos the seems to be fading.

Tattoos have transitioned from a sign of rebellion to almost a sign of conformity.

A body without a tattoo is sometimes more refreshing to me, especially around a college campus.

Many turn to coverups or tattoo removal to hide mistakes they thought they would love for the rest of their lives.

According to a July 2014 Cosmopolitan article, tattoo removals have risen 440 percent in the last 10 years, with removals costing up to 10 times the price of the original tattoo.

Others decide to cover up their tattoos with a design that transforms the old one into something more fitting.

With six different patches of my skin now inked, I give one piece of advice:

Before you go under the needle to express yourself or show your partner you love them by getting their name tattooed on your butt, consider if you’re going to like it when you’re older.

Tattoos can be fun and beautiful; they are a way to make your body into a piece of art.

However, you don’t want to spend the rest of your beach days explaining that the clover on your thigh is not in fact a tiny penis, like I do.

Whatever your decision, make sure the artist is using new needles and gloves and the studio is clean. Aftercare is essential, and you should always tip your tattoo artist.