Getting Inked: Goodbye Taboo, Hello Tattoo
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Getting Inked: Goodbye Taboo, Hello Tattoo

What to consider when getting a tattoo and why I love mine.

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Getting Inked: Goodbye Taboo, Hello Tattoo
Unsplash / Annie Spratt

Tattoos aren't nearly as taboo as they used to be. Almost 40% of millennials have tattoos and about half of that group has between two and five, according to a 2010 study by the Pew Research Center. In a 2016 Harris Poll, participants said their tattoos made them feel sexy, attractive, rebellious, spiritual, intelligent or healthy. There are a lot of reasons one might want to get a tattoo—but how can you ensure that you won't regret this fairly permanent decision? I believe there are three key ideas to having a successful tattoo: getting them done by a professional, choosing the right placement and personal meaning.

Please trust me when I tell you to have your tattoo done right. As a naive 16-year-old, I thought I knew what I wanted in a tattoo. I liked the quick, sketchy style of stick-and-poke tattoos and didn't want to wait until I was 18 (or pay the money for a professional). So I let a friend with minimal experience stab me with a tattoo needle over my ribs multiple times. As anyone with a speck of common sense can guess, this didn't turn out well. It was incredibly painful, the tattoo came out spotty and crooked and has faded over time. Three years later, I am considering having this sad little Saturn removed or covered up. I regret the decision a younger me made. But, I absolutely adore the two tattoos I had done by professional artists. They're vibrant, clear and beautiful. I love them more and more every day. It was worth waiting and saving up some cash to have these works of art on my body.

Another important factor to consider is where on your body to get your tattoo. Ideal placement is somewhere that can be covered easily, but also can be shown off if one desires. 70% of tattooed millennials chose ink that can be hidden under clothing. I have a tattoo of a peach on my upper left back and a triple goddess tattoo on on my upper right arm. These are invisible if I wear a shirt with short sleeves, but are exposed if I wear a tank top, racer back or anything strapless. In contrast, the Saturn tattoo on my rib cage falls directly under the band of my bra. It's almost never visible unless I'm naked. If this was a tattoo that I loved as much as my others, I would be bummed that it's so difficult to show off. Of course, your ink is ultimately about you. You don't ever have to expose your tattoo to the public. But if you think you might want to at some point in your life, pick your placement carefully.

The final factor to consider is the significance of your tattoo. 43% of people with tattoos think that personal meaning is the most important factor. But a tattoo doesn't have to have a story. The only "meaning" it needs is that you like it. You're also under no obligation to explain that meaning to anyone else. Despite how frequently it happens, I still panic when someone asks me what my tattoos mean. There's a lot of pressure to concisely explain myself in a way that will win the approval of others. In those moments, I try to remind myself that my body is my canvas. I don't need the approval of others to decorate it anyway I wish. My tattoos have meaning to me, and that's what matters.

Tattoos are permanent. I will carry them with me for the rest of my life. But unlike the stretch marks, scars, birthmarks, freckles, or moles that I'm also stuck with, I chose my tattoos. They're my personal expression. That's why they're my favorite parts of my body.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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