When I was a kid, I didn’t know a single person with a tattoo except for my Uncle Ron. Uncle Ron had been a sailor in the merchant navy, and he fought in the Korean war. He was definitely hard, half gypsy, and he sported an anchor in indigo blue, with a lovely scroll reading “Mum”. This was considered to be a little risqué in our family. However, the tattoo was tolerated because he was both a sailor and war hero.
Nowadays it’s very different. Everybody, their mum, and their grandma, has a tattoo. At least one, but preferably a lot of them. Once, a tiny rosebud on the buttock would have been considered naughty but reasonably nice. Now you are required to have a complete rosebush running across your torso, with greenfly marching along your arms and a nice bag of compost etched on your behind. No sooner do you have a quick snog with your boyfriend in the back row at the Roxy, than you are seemingly expected to have “Darren and Tracy 4eva” emblazoned across your chest.
To when the first wild passion has died down and Darren is a scorned memory of the past, when you realize that a cockroach rampant ornamenting your cheek (the cheek on your face, that is) is not actually helping you get that job as a quantity surveyor, when you figure out that tattoos are actually for losers, and worst of all, when you Google Donald Trump tattoo and come up with 1,200,000 hits – that is when tattoo remorse sets in.
It’s estimated that one in six people regret having had a tattoo. 21% of American adults have a tattoo, so that is an ocean or two of tears of remorse. Additionally, people report that they feel their job opportunities are limited because of having that tattoo. Furthermore, they are seen to be more promiscuous. 30% of people, even those who have tattoos, say that they would rethink dating someone with a prominent tattoo.
It’s not only the young who get tattoos, increasingly, older people do so too. It is seen as a sign of rebellion, independence, and that you are still in some ways a wild child. What the majority of non tattooed people think is that you are an idiot who can’t grow old gracefully, but has to follow a trend set by drunken teenagers on their eighteenth birthday.
So it’s not surprising that people are increasingly trying to find ways of concealing their tattoos.
Handling tattoo regrets:
The easiest way is with a bit of body makeup. Sales of extra strong concealers are said to be soaring as people seek to cover up what has become an embarrassment instead of a show off trophy. This might be a good short term solution for you, for example, at a family occasion or an interview. But the long term answer these days is laser removal – both expensive and painful.
If a tattoo is very large, and the colors are very bright, then it’s going to be a hard job. Several laser treatments will be required to actually have any effect. Mark Wahlberg was one celebrity who decided on laser removal – and he took his two eldest children along to watch the painful procedure, as a warning to them not to get tattooed themselves.
Two laser treatments are enough for a small tattoo to begin to blister, and as a result show signs of fading. The laser actually breaks down the ink which constitutes the tattoo. And once it’s broken down, the particles of ink are attacked by the body’s immune system. This mimics the effect of natural fading over time. Large tattoos may well require to be cut out, and the skin replaced with grafted skin from another part of the body. This can be problematic for people who have extensive tattoos, as they may simply not have sufficient clean skin available to constitute a graft.
Tattoo removal can be a long, expensive, painful and time consuming process which many people simply don’t want to face. The obvious answer is to think very carefully before you have a tattoo. Remember, you won’t always be the age you are now, doing the job you are now, living among the people you are now.
Circumstances change a lot, and that tattoo that you longed for might well end up as an ugly, stupid, embarrassment.