Tattoo or Not Tattoo? That is the Question…

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There’s something I’ve been deliberating over for more than 20 years and at the age of 43, I’m wondering if I’ve left it a bit too late to do it.

For many years now I’ve been mulling over the pros and cons of having a tattoo. I’ve always liked them; I’m not talking about having ‘LOVE’ and ‘HATE’ etched across my knuckles or something obscene across my forehead. Nor am I interested in the extreme kind that take up 50 percent of skin coverage of the body surface. I’m just after something minimal and tasteful.

Whilst travelling in Thailand, I once saw a girl with a ring of small colourful elephants interlinked around her ankle and for a while I thought I wanted that one for sure. But if I’m entirely honest with myself, I have rather thick ankles (cankles, if you will), and I’m no longer overly keen on drawing attention to one of them. 

I have a friend who has a tattoo on her shoulder that she had penned while we were back-packing around Australia. It comprises of her name in Chinese lettering in a ring of pretty flowers. The translation was given to us by another Chinese backpacker sharing one of our numerous youth hostels. We always used to laugh that he could have been having us on, since we wouldn’t know any different, and just given us the Chinese letters for **** (I’ll leave that swearword to your imagination but take note, I could swear like a navvy in those days). Still, it looks nice.

As I’ve remarked before, I am medically trained and I’ve seen my fair share of bad tattoos on patients. They were usually worn by ageing men and were badly-daubed and had faded to a murky greeny/blue hue over the years. But to be honest, these men were very probably sailors in their earlier years and the tattoo was probably scrawled by yet another naval crew member who had no official qualification as a tattoo-artist. And being elderly men, their skin had begun to sag over time and with it had drooped the auspicious tattoo.

So I thought I’d probably opt for the classic go-to area of the rear of shoulder. The skin doesn’t really sag much there unless you’re morbidly obese and you can easily hide it with a t-shirt or a wide-strapped vest if you change your mind at a later date. A couple of years back I dressed up as ‘Starbuck’ from the remake of ‘Battlestar Galactica’ who sports a very intricate tattoo on her upper left arm. With great precision, we lovingly drew this onto my skin with a non-permanent tattoo pen. I loved this tattoo – but if I’m honest, it was a little large for my taste.

And as to what the design of my dream-tattoo should be? Well, that’s my main problem. Everything has been overdone; Celtic symbols, oriental symbols…mermaids. Oh, and you can’t usually rely on the name of your significant other because, y’know, one in three marriages end in divorce and not every relationship is for life. And lest we forget that there is a fine line between a modestly tasteful tattoo and something that is so horribly tacky that one would be forced to save up to have the monstrosity burned off with a laser!

The thing I didn’t expect on admitting my secret penchant to people was the amazing (and may I say rather heated) opinions that it instils in others. There are some folk out there who absolutely loathe the idea of a tattoo. The very notion of desecrating ones skin with a piece of (what I may call) artwork is completely abhorrent to some and the mere mention of it sends them into an irrational rage. Whilst others (who usually sport some skin-art of their own), the tattoo is a very personal and precious thing. My brother-in-law has the signature of my late sister tattooed onto his inner forearm which I feel was a very touching thing.

So I’m at a crossroads at this juncture in my life. It may be that I’ve left it far too late because tattoos seem to be a daring venture for only the young. And as I say, I haven’t a clue as to the perfect, timeless design even if I was set upon getting one. Which I’m not. Then there’s the fact that I don’t particularly enjoy unnecessary pain. And I can’t help but feel it will never happen unless I have another rebellious streak strike me overnight. Which I feel is unlikely. I’m very old and very boring now. So it looks like I am going to be stuck with this very dull, if unblemished, peaches-and-cream pink skin forever more. It sucks to be as unadventurous as me… *sigh*


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21 thoughts on “Tattoo or Not Tattoo? That is the Question…

  1. I have plenty of tattoos, I have a few that have been covered up, but I have none that are less than 10 years old. I don’t regret any of them but then again I don’t think about them either. I have no advice on this, but I will say, it is a permanent decision, so don’t make it drunk. Have a few of those too.

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  2. Don’t hold back! There’s so many beautiful, individual designs out there. Get the right tattooist and get them to design one just for you. Saying that for the best tattooist you may have to wait in line for a few months. On the other hand a spontaneous drunken tattoo could lead to endless after dinner antidotes!

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  3. Hey Adele,
    It sounds like you haven’t found the right tattoo for you and my advice is to find the perfect one and then make the decision. You aren’t ever too old for a tattoo though! I’ve had a very special name (Taj) tattooed on my ankle for years now and I love it just as much now as I did when I first got it. It will always be precious and comforting to me for the rest of my life. Choose with your heart!

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  4. I think age is not a factor here. There is no “too old to get a tattoo” in my opinion.
    But of course the process is painful (and so is the week that follows, until everything heals) and also, needless to say that a good tattoo is expensive 🙂
    If you were happy and comfortable with the temporary tattoo you had, maybe it is not such a bad idea 😀

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  5. I would leave your skin the way it is! During my younger days I may have wished for a tattoo, but how weird would it look when I’m like 70? Great post! By the way, I read some of your daughter’s blog and it was quite good, very impressive.

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  6. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo, DONT DO IT Adele!! Get a transfer if you really must. Think about when you’re hunched over in your 90’s, sat in your recliner in Shady Pines (but you cant recline as you’re hunched over!) and there’s a green blob on your back/arm/forehead?? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Just NO. Get a tongue stud instead. Just Sayin’. Love your blog xx

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  7. I have also had this dilemma since about the age of 25, when tattoos started to become fashionable again. I saw a girl about a few months ago who had the most stunning tattoo of an absolutely stunning cuff around her wrist. It was actually quite large, and from a distance I did think it was an actual piece of jewellery. It was only as I got closer that I realised she had been inked. It has to be said that she was about 26 and gorgeous, neither of which I am. I thought I might get something for my 50th, but am now almost two years past that and still nothing. Maybe I’ll save it for my 60th!!

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    • Ooh I like the sound of that! It’s a tough one Julie, I’ve had such a mixed reaction! I’ve got a vague notion of having my late sister’s name written in elvish on my rear shoulder. A) because she was my sister B) because I’m a nerd C) because the script is pretty!
      Shall we make a pact for our next decade-reaching birthday..?? 😉x

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