Since the rise of the hipster, tattoos have become something of a fashion statement. These days, they are no longer purely associated with meaty skinheads clad in leather and revving the engine of a Harley. Thanks to Internet sites such as Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest, along with the birth of third wave feminism, more and more of us are heading to our local tattoo parlours, eager to try out this once taboo form of (almost) irreversible body art.
It should come as no surprise that many of us get our first tattoo whilst at university. Since going to university is almost a coming of age in itself, it seems only fitting that it should be commemorated by symbolically etching an image into your skin forever.
I myself fell prey to the tattoo phenomenon whilst I was a student in Aberystwyth, and to tell you the truth, I do, on occasion, regret it. Probably not as much as one boy I knew, who got ‘I love Aber’ tattooed on his derrière. But a bit.
So, to avoid any potential life-long regrets, here’s a list of things to consider before you get inked.
1. You’re having a brilliant time at Uni, you feel that you’ve finally found the real you, and you want to keep that feeling forever. Professing your undying love for student life in the form of a tattoo is one way of doing it – but the reason you are enjoying yourself is down to the people you have met, the hard work you have (or haven’t) put in, and probably the alcohol (let’s be honest). Depending on how much you have of the third thing, you will hopefully never forget the first two. You don’t need a tattoo to remember the good times.
2. Sure, your significant other has been on top form lately, but what about the time they picked their nose and ate it, or they drunkenly ‘mistook’ your mother for you, or they told you they secretly hate cats even though you’re a massive feline lover? If none of these things have happened yet, THEY MIGHT. Best to be safe, not sorry. Don’t get names inked into your skin forever, folks.
3. You’re a self-professed Disney/Shakespeare/LOTR geek. You’ve wanted a way to express this side of you for a while, and what better way to do that than in the form of a tattoo? Something to bear in mind: once you’ve had it done, you will forever have people asking you, ‘Why did you get that? What does it mean?’ Or, if it’s in writing, ‘What does that say?’ Believe me, having to constantly explain your tattoos to others too lazy to actually READ gets tedious.
4. You’ve seen some really cool stuff on Pinterest that looks amazing on the person in the picture. FACT: these pictures have been put through about a thousand filters, light-balance edits and airbrushing before they are posted on the Internet. That thigh sleeve tattoo of Snow White probably isn’t going to look as pretty when it’s not in the flattering shade of Noir.
5. You’re not fussed about one day regretting your tattoo because that’s what laser removal is for, right? WRONG. Laser removal’s primary purpose is to make you wish you’d never been born, it is just that painful. Apparently it feels like little spits of boiling oil that you might get when frying bacon. But a thousand times over. On the same patch of skin. And to add insult to injury, it rarely works all that brilliantly, particularly if you have a coloured tattoo.
Of course, it is all a matter of perspective. Regretting a tattoo isn’t the worst thing to have ever happened to someone. Although I sometimes have my doubts about my own tattoos (mostly in professional situations where I wish to be taken seriously – and that is still very much an issue no matter what the equal right opportunity forms may say) I don’t stay awake at night worrying about it.
But if you’re the kind of person who goes in for regret in a big way, I’d adhere to my advice and think before you ink.