5 May

When I was 16 I made a terrible decision, well I probably made lots actually but one in particular that I regret to this day, every single day. I don’t really know why I did it. I wasn’t following anyone else, I was the only one of my peers that went down this particular path. I hadn’t shown any previous inclination either, it came from nowhere. It wasn’t strictly legal, I would even go as far as to say it was illegal. After all you have to be 18 before you can get a tattoo.

I went out one day and passed a tattoo parlour, having shown no previous desire or interest in getting a tattoo I walked in and walked out with a fairly substantial band around my upper arm. I probably put more thought into what I was going to have for breakfast that day. I flicked through a few books and found a design I thought was fairly inoffensive biting my tongue for 4 hours as a little needle permanently scarred my arm. Baring in mind I was only sweet 16 it could have been so much worse, SO…..MUCH…..WORSE!
I went to school the next day and my peers seemed suitably impressed, I may even have benefitted from a kiss behind the bike shed but I can remember being fairly ambivalent towards it even then. I showed my parents, they didn’t launch into any great rant about regret, they did something even worse they gave each other and then me a knowing look, a ‘you’re so going to regret that look’. I suspect their disapproval was compounded by the fact that I got my eyebrow pierced on the same day; this must have been my bad boy phase?

Over the next couple of years I went on to get two more tattoos and I loathe them all equally. I am now lumbered with a spiky band around my arm, a misplaced gecko on my shoulder and a sun shining out of my arse. Let me state that I don’t hate tattoos, I hate my tattoos. I hate their permanence and I hate that they are not reflective who I am. I go to extraordinary lengths to keep mine covered up, I search around for T’s that have sleeves just long enough to cover up my inky errors. I was a personal trainer in a previous life and would wear wrist bands pulled up my arms to keep them covered. When I look in the mirror they dominate what I see, I wish I could turn back the clock and un-ink myself.
I toy with getting them removed but there are some fairly substantial costs involved and it seems unfair (and maybe a tad vain) to take money out of the family coffers to rectify my own error of judgment. As I said I don’t hate tattoos and see ones on a daily basis that I think are beautiful. Those people did what I hadn’t, they deliberated, they came up with designs, they sourced skilled tattoo artists and they had several consultations to be absolutely sure they were doing the right thing. Along with the Birds and Bees, Say no to Drugs and Treat Women Well talks that I plan on having with The Boy I am already practising my Think Before You Ink speech.

The second choice I have is whether to cover up my existing ‘pieces’ with something altogether more personal, more meaningful, more me. That means going bigger and who’s to say what is relevant and personal to me now as a 30 something is going to still be relevant when I’m in my 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. There is a third choice that’s cheap, practical and less permanent – “suck it up princess”. I suspect this is the option I will take.

Has anyone else dabbled with body art? How has it been for you? Care to share your story?


33 Responses to “Inked!”

  1. Zanni Arnot May 5, 2013 at 9:35 am #

    Oh no! That’s a shame you have tattoos you don’t like. I have one pretty indiscrete one on my hip, which no-one ever sees, and I never think about. I was only 16 too, so it was lucky I at least chose a pretty unobvious place. Was never inspired to get more. I admire some tattoos I see…but it’s one of those things you want to put a lot of thought into. And preferably get a great artist to do it.

    • daddownunder May 5, 2013 at 9:45 am #

      Why does hindsight have to come after the event : ) It makes such a big difference when you do see it everyday and cant ignore it. Ho hum not much I can do apart from the expensive non-option

  2. 40YrOldDad May 5, 2013 at 9:36 am #

    I have a tattoo on my stomach near my left hip which I regret. Like you, I have nothing against tattoos. I just hate mine because I got it for the wrong reasons, I got it for someone else. It’s just a symbol, no words, but it’s always there. I tried assigning a different meaning to it, but I know the truth and no matter how many times I tell myself the world is flat, I know that it’s not. Bloody youth.

    • daddownunder May 5, 2013 at 9:47 am #

      Sounds like a possible cover up job? It never occured to me just how permanant permanant is, I put so little thought into the whole process its scary. You live and you learn, onwards and upwards

  3. vickyfinch May 5, 2013 at 9:47 am #

    I waited until my 40th birthday to get my first tattoo. It was a friggin disaster. You would think age would bestow wisdom, but nope. I allowed someone, who was learning, in a friends garage to permanently mark my body. How hard could it be to do my kids initials?? Worse still I allowed him to do it THREE different times in an attempt to get it to look the way I wanted. I had people ask me if it was a burn, a cult mark, and plain old what the fark did you do???

    I saved my money to a. Get it removed, or b. take my embarrassment to a reputable artist. With my head hung in shame, I showed her my wrist and asked can you make this beautiful?

    And what do you know? She DID! I love it know, and the other one she did that goes from my under my arm to my hip.

    I have been having an ongoing conversation with my 17yo about getting inked. She comes to with me “so and so does them… Blah blah blah.” My response is no. So far she has listen to me and hasn’t turned up with a dodgey home job.

    • daddownunder May 5, 2013 at 9:51 am #

      I dont often use this expression but, far out, a learner in a garage! I enquired recently about the costs of a removal and I think I can scratch that off my list of options. I think over time the price must surely come down for remvoals because so many people are going to have regrettable tattoos. I’ll bind my time I think. GLad you got yours sorted

      • vickyfinch May 5, 2013 at 9:58 am #

        Like I said, age has definitely NOT bestowed wisdom on this little black duck!

        One of the processes for removal that I looked at was different to laser, it used the same process as getting tattooed, but the stuff used makes the ink come out.

  4. Lisa May 5, 2013 at 10:02 am #

    yes! I was also 16 (so young! so stupid! so illegal!) and I got two hearts….. on my left butt cheek 😦 its horrendous, but luckily, no one has to see it unless I’ve had waaaaay too many wines. my little girls think its hilarious and sneak into the bathroom so they can point and giggle at it when I’m having a shower. they’re laughing with me, not at me….. I think….

    • daddownunder May 5, 2013 at 10:31 am #

      Let them laugh at you if it means they don’t make the same mistake : ) I will definitely be having words with Max one day. Thanks for sharing Lisa

  5. Nikki May 5, 2013 at 10:06 am #

    If your in Sydney and decide to re ink there is a fantastic tattoo artist called rusty gee(he’s on fb too) check him out he’d def be able to ‘fix’ the mistakes. Btw I have no tatoo’s..

    • daddownunder May 5, 2013 at 10:32 am #

      Rusty Gee that’s a tattoo artists name if ever there was one. Thanks for the tip off Nikki, I’ll keep that in mind

  6. Wendy May 5, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    I have three tatt’s – two of which I regret. I bought some tattoo removal cream but am waiting to stop breastfeeding to use it… will let you know if it works… 🙂

    • daddownunder May 5, 2013 at 10:44 am #

      I never knew such a thing existed, definitely interested to hear how that goes, good luck

  7. Reen May 5, 2013 at 11:38 am #

    I have a tattoo on my right shoulder blade that I got when I was 25. It’s my Chinese astrological sign and means ‘perseverance’ which I thought at the time was an important trait to have. My boyfriend du jour had a few tatts, so maybe it was also a way of impressing him. When I showed my Mum, she said, “Why didn’t you get something pretty like a butterfly?” And then proceeded to show me off to the family at Christmas like I was some rebellious badass!

    I actually forget that I have my tattoo, because I can’t see it. My four year asked me what it was one day. I can’t remember what I said. I felt embarrassed by it on my wedding day as I wore a strapless dress so it was on show for all to see. In a way I wish I’d never got it, but at then I also chose it for a reason, it meant something to me, and they are so common now, everyone seems to have one or more so I don’t feel like I’m some inked freak. Me and my teeny tatt…

    • daddownunder May 6, 2013 at 3:13 am #

      This wouldn’t be Shirren would it, you bad ass dark horse! I wish mine was little too, I think its just something I’m going to have to accept and put it down as an error and move on. No point crying over spilt milk. Thankfully I dont wear many strapless dresses ; )

  8. Kyla @ Three Quarters Full May 5, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

    I have four, the first one I got when I was 19, it was a design I liked but don’t love now (tiger cup batting at a butterfly in the tramp stamp locale), in hindsight I’d have gone with something different if I had thought it over more but I don’t regret it and I do love that it’s not the traditional tramp stamp type design you usually see. The other three are extremely important to me, I view tattoos as a way of marking my skin when my soul is marked, I admire the art and beauty of them but for me the three I have gotten in the last 3 years are ones that I thought about, deliberated over and are deeply personal.

    I have a polar bear cub over my right hip with my son’s name and birthdate, it’s about hand size and was designed just for me – I marked my skin daily with injections while trying for him and needed to do something permanent to celebrate his arrival after 6 long years. When we lost our twins I felt that I needed to do something to mark that as well, I actually had a gorgeous tattoo designed for me with their actual IVF embryo photos turned into angels with wings but ended up falling in love with the fact that forget me nots often naturally display heart shapes so got one designed for my left shoulder, it was my first easily viewable tattoo and I thought long and hard about getting it placed there where it was harder to hide, the designer did a fantastic job and captured what I was looking for so well, others see pretty flowers but I see my twins and a promise to never forget them. My fourth is the words “what’s past is prologue” tattooed down my left inner forearm, I thought about that one for a year before getting it and it’s a daily affirmation, a reminder that the journey we are on shapes what comes next, it was something I needed to do after we stopped trying for #2… I felt that it was part of my process of healing. I love them all so much, they’re a part of me, scars from my heart displayed on my skin.

    If you can find a reputable artist (I know of a few in Melbs if you want recs) to cover it (or them) up into something you can love that’s probably your best bet. Removal is costly, painful (much worse than the inking) and not always guaranteed and that’s with laser – creams will fade the appearance but are unlikely to totally remove the tattoo.

    • Kyla @ Three Quarters Full May 5, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

      and jeeze I always seem to write long rambling replies to your posts – you can tell that I’m not good at twitter 😉

    • daddownunder May 6, 2013 at 3:24 am #

      Thanks for sharing Kyla. Wow, I love the story behind your pieces. It sounds to me like you should write a post about it on your blog, yours is certainly a story to tell if you wanted to. I’m glad that you have designs that your happy with and mean so much to you. As I say I am a fan of tattoos and appreciate their beauty and significance. Thank you.

  9. Cara May 5, 2013 at 10:40 pm #

    I like tattoos. And most people i know have at least 1. I would like to get a small bluebird tattoo as a tribute to my late dad. Buuuuut. For me, the idea of it is more appealing than the actual, permanent ink. And while now, in my late 20’s, I could pull it off I cannot picture myself inked up in 10, 20, 50??? years from now. No matter what meaning it had to me.

    • daddownunder May 6, 2013 at 3:27 am #

      Thnaks Cara, maybe there is another way you can give tribute to your Dad that has the same significance without the permanance. Get a painting of the same artwork perhaps? If in doubt say ‘no’ would be my advice.

  10. Julie May 6, 2013 at 1:51 am #

    I have several, and I love them all. Each one I draw up, look at it on paper for ages (Up to two years in one instance) then I get them done. Even more each one is attached a story eg I have a trail of stars down my right ankle to my foot. Each time my Dad was diagnosed with cancer and then beat it I would add another star. I was Dad’s support partner through chemo, my stars are my reminders of how important my Dad is to me and to appreciate him instead of taking him for granted and he was told 12 years ago he only had six weeks to live. Stubborn Man is still alive and I adore him for his fight.
    I have three huge roses on my lower back, Dad always calls my sisters and I his roses, so a rose for me and one for each sibling..
    After several years of fertility treatments I finally fell pregnant, only to have a miscarriage. I then went through horrible depression, both my partner and I got a Chinese peony tattooed on our forearms. Chinese peonies symbolize new begins. Strangely enough the weekend we went down to Lennox Heads and got these tattoos is the weekend I fell pregnant (naturally) and now we have Jarvis.
    I did not get my first until I was 30, will I get more? Who knows? Is six enough? When something meaningful comes along I may get another. I have had One drawn up for over a year now, I am still thinking.

    • daddownunder May 6, 2013 at 3:34 am #

      Beautiful stories Julie and one I would love to read about on your blog, you should write a similar post, you have a much bigger and more beuatiful story to tll than mine. Maybe I will have to cover mine up with something I do love?

  11. Kevin May 6, 2013 at 2:56 am #

    To this day I am amazed that I got through my teens and twenties without a tattoo. There was bad piercings and bleached spiky hair but even though I stood out the front of a few shops I never actually went through with it.

    • daddownunder May 6, 2013 at 3:35 am #

      I think you did good kev, although the blonde spiky hair sound siteresting – any pics?

      • Kevin May 6, 2013 at 3:38 am #

        luckily this all happened before Facebook. Can you imagine if our teens and 20’s were on Facebook?

  12. Kassey May 6, 2013 at 5:17 am #

    Oh I know! Isn’t it awful. Just this year I started to feel the deep regret if getting a tatoo. And by crikey removal costs are insane!

    Fundraiser anyone?

    • daddownunder May 6, 2013 at 8:32 am #

      I’m resigned to it being a part of my life, I might go bigger reluctantly but I would rather go back to nothing at all. Hindsight is a pain in the arse!

  13. JodiGibson (@JFGibsonWriter) May 6, 2013 at 5:25 am #

    This is the reason I have never got a tattoo. I know I would regret it. I love tattoo’s, but on the right person, in the right place. Some people suit tattoos, some don’t. Just my opinion. I certainly don’t judge anyone who has, after all you are not defined by your body art. I hope you come to some sort of peace with yours. And maybe one day I will find something that resonates enough with me to take the plunge!

    • daddownunder May 6, 2013 at 8:36 am #

      Dont do it! I feel a bit tainted by mine, there is something quite pure about the uninked body. Same as you, I don’t mind what others do but thats how I view my body. Thanks for the comment.

  14. Carly Jacobs (@ladysmaggle) May 6, 2013 at 8:36 am #

    The truth comes out Matt. THIS is why you wouldn’t let us take a Bond shot on Whitehaven. Saving it fo’ yo’self. Tsk tsk.


  15. Sonia Life Love Hiccups May 6, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

    I have the Egyptian eye on my lower back. I cant see it so I usually forget it is there, until my kids pull their crazy shit on me and then I tell them that the eye on my back sees EVERYTHING!

    • daddownunder May 6, 2013 at 10:10 pm #

      You need to write a guide to parenting Sonia, that is genius!

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