To tattoo or not to tattoo: that is the question

Coming from the standpoint of a girl who got a tattoo pretty much as soon as I turned 18, and another a mere 6 months after, I’m pretty much obliged to say that I like tattoos.

Coming from the standpoint of a girl who got a tattoo pretty much as soon as I turned 18, and another a mere 6 months after, I’m pretty much obliged to say that I like tattoos. If I didn’t every time I looked at my ribs and my ankle, I would have a panic attack.

But it is true that everyone these days seem to have one, and you kind of think—are they a fad? Are tattoos becoming the cool new accessory, advocated by celebrities? Why is it, that now, people without tattoos are becoming a minority?

A rich and interesting cultural history

Tattoos have a rich and interesting cultural history and importance globally. There is evidence of Asian cultures tattooing in prehistoric times, with the practice hitting Eurasia in the Neolithic period. The Celts, notably the infamous Boudicca, flaunted their iconic blue designs made from woad or copper. With their longevity, tattoos clearly aren’t going anywhere. But why are they becoming seemingly more prevalent?

Celebrities, particularly the menfolk of celebdom – I’m thinking of David Beckham and his sleeves, Harry Styles and his torso covered with etchings and Robbie Williams in particular – have definitely raised the profile of tattoos.

The rise of the tattooing programme

In addition, the rise of the tattooing programme, such as Miami Ink, London Ink and LA Ink demonstrated the wide range of people who got tattoos, people who loved them, and had heart wrenching stories behind them.

I once saw an episode where a guy got his best friend’s cremation ashes mixed in with the tattoo ink, and the friend’s name inked onto his chest, now that’s a story. All of a sudden, tattoos were removed from purely ageing rockers and Hells Angels bikers, and replaced by the every-day people you pass on the street. Their tattoos told a story for them.

What have I done?

I didn’t really think anything of getting my tattoo when I stepped into the tattoo parlour (aptly named Bournemouth Ink). As far as I was concerned, I had planned it for about a year, got it written out in one of my best friend’s handwriting for the personalised touch and knew the place I got it (my ribs) could be easily hidden when I was old and wrinkly.

Two and a half hours later, and I just cried. The bright black against my fair skin just made me think, oh holy mother of God, what have I done. I have ruined myself forever.

Think about Mel C, of Spice Girl fame, and her awful Celtic bands and crosses on her arms—the utter permanence of what I had done struck me and in conjunction with the adrenaline pumping through my system, I just sobbed. That and the hideous amount of money I had just spent on what I saw as ruining my body, was just salt in the wound.

Why another one?

Why 6 months later did I get another one then?

If I hated the first one so much, why go out of my way to inflict pain and ‘deform’ my body? Because I grew to love my tattoo, it became a part of me which to be quite honest, I now forget I even have.

The second one was about a tenth of the size, and being something my sister and I did together, really made it a bond and something special. Small and perfectly formed, every time I look at my ankle, I think of her. Which makes me smile about twice a day (mainly when I take my socks off).

Tattoos tell a story

Tattoos are personal. They show a story which means something to that individual at the time they decided to get something permanent on their body.

Okay, I wouldn’t say every tattoo in the world is tasteful or ‘cool.’ In fact, many other people’s tattoos are in my opinion hideous, and many people think of their own tattoos as mistakes, I’m sure. Yes, I’m sure there are people influenced by celebrity culture to get one and yes, there are people getting some really strange things done to their body which I personally think are distasteful. At the end of the day, they might love it and it’s their body.

We have no place to judge whether they’re ‘cool’ or not. And, if in twenty years, when my skin moves about four inches southwards towards the floor, I decide I don’t like my tattoos anymore, Groupon do some excellent deals on tattoo laser removal sessions anyway.

Do you think tattoos are cool? Have your say in the comments section below, on Facebook or on Twitter.