To Tattoo or Not to Tattoo: Pros and Cons of Body Ink

By Amanda Cohen on January 31, 2018

According to Hamlet, “to be, or not to be: that is the question.” Well, I beg to differ. I believe that the question is “to tattoo, or not to tattoo: that is the question.” In the past, tattoos were extremely taboo. Now, in the 21st century, ink is definitely less taboo and more common, but it is not entirely accepted or promoted by society. I personally have no issues with people tattooing their bodies, as long as they thought about their decision for an ample amount of time and that they realize that tattoos are, in fact, permanent. Sure, you can experiment with henna and stick-on tattoos, but it truly isn’t the same: sometimes, you just have to take the plunge and say “What the hell, this is what I want to do and I’m going to do it.”

Even though I like, if not love, tattoos, I definitely recognize that, like with any major change, there are plenty of pros and cons to “getting inked.” It can be difficult to not only think of the pros and cons, but also to weigh them against each other. Well, that’s what I’m here for! If you are interested in potentially getting a tattoo, read on and think about the pros and cons that I believe exist when deciding whether or not to get tatted.

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Pro #1: Tattoos are a form of art and personal expression

Just like any form of art, tattoos a way to express oneself through uniquely hand-drawn and inked images. There is a misconception that tattoos are only worth it if they have some sort of deep meaning behind them. While it’s awesome for tattoos to have a deep history, it is also awesome to get a tattoo that makes you happy and aligns with who you are as a person.

My dad has six different tattoos: three of these tattoos have a deep-rooted family history, one of these tattoos represents an accomplishment in my dad’s life, and the other two are just ones that my dad thought looked awesome and were worthy of being permanently represented on his body. Even though not all of his tattoos have a deep-rooted family history, each of these tattoos carries a strong personal meaning to my dad as an individual, which is the most important thing of all.

Con #1: Tattoos are not as widely accepted as they should be

Unfortunately, tattoos are not as widely accepted as they should be. I’ve been to hotels where employees are required to cover up their tattoos with tape and/or makeup cover up. In addition, when my friends and I have talked about getting tattoos, part of the conversation always revolves around the fact that we should get them in places that are not noticeable during job interviews and other important occasions.

Even though I do have these concerns, I also question why having a tattoo would deter me from being an excellent employee at a company? They are completely separate from one another, yet it’s still a concern that many people have. In addition, tattoos on women are not as accepted as tattoos on men, which is utterly ridiculous (talk about a gender double-standard). Because of this lack of acceptance, getting a tattoo can be intimidating, so this is definitely something to think about.

Pro #2: Tattoos look cool

I know this pro may sound silly, but the bottom line is that tattoos look cool. When I look at Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson and Ruby Rose I immediately think that they are badasses and cool. Tattoos are a fun form of expression and they definitely add a small level of danger to someone’s identity.

If anyone is skeptical about this claim, go find a book about tattoo artists and ink in general and you will instantly realize that tattoos are cool, they look cool, and they can make even the “nerdiest” person exude some sort of danger and bad-assness. If the ink you get is cool then doesn’t that automatically make you cool? Yes. 1000% yes.

Con #2: Tattoos are permanent

Tattoos are permanent. That’s the bottom-line. Because of this, tattoos are definitely something that you need to think about long and hard. Some of you may be saying, “Well, you really should think long and hard about any major changes in your life.” I do agree with this, but most major changes in someone’s life are not permanent. Some of you are also saying, “There is such thing as tattoo removals.”

Well, if you keep reading, you will see why getting a tattoo removed is not considered a solution to realizing that you shouldn’t have gotten a tattoo in the first place. I personally love tattoos, but they are definitely something that need to be thought about. My dad didn’t get his first tattoo until he was around 42-years-old (which means he had plenty of time to think about his decision). He doesn’t regret any of his tattoos because he thought about them for a long time.

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Pro #3: Tattoos can help solidify a person’s identity

I truly believe that tattoos not only become a part of someone, but they can help people formulate their own individual identities. Regardless of the size of the tattoo, once that ink gets put on your arm, it instantly becomes a part of you and helps to solidify your own, unique identity. For example, Demi Lovato has 21 different tattoos that range from big to small. However, her identity influenced her tattoos and her tattoos have influenced her identity. Her lion tattoo, representing strength, her astrological sign, and her song “Lionheart,” have officially become a part of her identity because. If you want to see the full list of what all of her 21 tattoos mean, Steal Her Style has the full story.

On a more personal note, two of my dad’s tattoos instantly became a huge part of his identity. On the right side of his rib cage, he has my mom, my sister, and my name in beautiful calligraphy. On the left side of his rib cage, he has a colorful protective dragon common in the Buddhist religion. These are two things that have further solidified my dad’s identity as a loving and amazing father and husband.

Con #3: Tattoos (and tattoo removal) are expensive and painful

Tattoos are expensive. Not only that, if you decide that you hate your tattoos and want them removed, the price rises to ridiculous levels depending on the size and hues used in your ink. When deciding where to get your tattoo, you want to go to an accredited place, but these places are much more expensive than the random places that you find on the street. However, if you go to someone with little experience you will most likely to pay for either (1) a tattoo touchup or (2) a tattoo removal (aka more money). If you want the tattoo, it’s definitely worth saving up for one, but don’t let yourself break the bank for a tattoo that you either aren’t sure about or for a place with unseasoned tattoo artists.

These are only a few of the pros and cons of getting a tattoo. However, if you want to get some ink, go for it! I personally love tattoos and, even though I have none of my own, I have definitely been thinking about getting a tattoo for a while now. If you don’t want a tattoo, that’s fine, but be sure not to let your beliefs and opinions influence others who love ink! Regardless of what your opinions are, embrace your identity and be proud of your beliefs because that’s what makes you an amazing individual!

I am currently a junior at the University of Michigan.

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