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Are tattoos always a huge mistake?

A TATTOO TOO FAR?: Rapper Lil Wayne

Each week we ask two writers with contrasting opinions to answer the question...


PICTURE THIS: 80 years old, your grandchildren are round for Sunday tea, you're laying out the Rich Teas. “Who's Paul, nanny?" Little Sarah points to the wrinkly faded blob on your arm, knowing full well her granddad’s name is Jim.

Tattoos: fun in your youth, and a reminder of how stupid you can be as you age. Let's face it, we all age - skin stretches, things drop and skin crumples.

I wouldn't get a tattoo for a number of reasons, and explaining them to my grandchildren is one of them. Not to mention the poor carer who will one day end up seeing me in all my glory, them probably a twenty-something newbie. Do they really need to be traumatised by an 80-year-old tramp stamp?

What about the regret, the mark of failed relationships or wrong decisions? I can't think of a less romantic gesture than stamping my boyfriend’s name on my skin. What am I, cattle? This physical display of ownership is for who exactly? I'd rather be content that our love for each other is enough.

The number of friends I have had who regretted their tattoos is endless, and what about the ones who thought they were getting ‘peace and love’ tattooed only to find out it reads ‘fish and chips’?
If I regret outfits that at the time I thought looked fantastic, chances are I'll regret a tattoo. Without sounding like a 1950s housewife, what about the times in our lives we want to look timeless and elegant, weddings, christenings, job interviews?

If you turn up to a job interview with ‘only God can judge me’ written on your neck like the UK's most wanted criminal please don’t be naive and think you won't be judged. You are not 50 Cent, you do not have creative license.

Sure, tattoos work for some people – pop stars, Hollywood actors, tattooists who are exploring their art – but the truth is a lot of us get it wrong, often at times of crisis or confusion.

I've seen some beautiful tattoos filled with glorious meaning. But I've seen far too many ‘Jenny 4 James’, clichés, characterless quotes, and Chinese symbols people can't read. For that reason, I'm out, and think most of us should be too. Let's leave it to the professionals, the pop stars, and the Hollywood starlets. After all, they have the money to turn ‘Cole’ to ‘Tweedy’ in a heartbeat.



BACK IN the day tattoos were just for punks or rebels. It was a sign that you were part of a certain rebellious or anti-social culture. Nowadays it is acceptable for anyone to get tattooed, regardless of social class, gender or age.

Whether you want to dip your toe in and get a small, discreet tattoo or go all out and get your whole body covered, tattooing is an acceptable way of expressing yourself in today’s world.

Whilst tattoos are most certainly extremely permanent. Most sensible people realise that tattoos are not to be rushed into. You don’t just go out and get a tattoo the same way you would go down the high street and buy a pair of shoes.

Tattoos are art, you think about what you want, you think about whether it has a meaning, and you consider whether or not you will still like your tattoo in 10, 30 or 50 years’ time.

Some people say getting a girlfriend or boyfriend’s name tattooed is a huge mistake, but tattooing is all about affiliation. I know someone who has at least five ex-girlfriends’ names tattooed on him, and he has no regrets. At the time they meant something, and looking back they still mean something, even if the meaning has changed. It’s no massive deal, as long as you accept when you get ‘Sharon’ permanently inked into your arm, that Sharon might not be in your life forever.

‘But what about when you get really old and fat?’ I hear you cry. ‘Your tattoos will look awful!’ Really? Is that the best argument you can come up with? First things first, surely getting fat is a bigger problem than having a stretched tattoo on your arm? Let’s face it, no one is looking forward to getting really old anyway, so why not brighten up your life with a colourful reminder of when you decided that Sharon was the one? At least you won’t look like every other person around.

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