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Temporary (Tattoo) Insanity

Ready, set, tattoo!? There’s a way to try before you buy the real thing, and I don’t mean the kiddie Cracker Jack box kind.

I was watching Lea Michele on David Letterman the other night and her interview about her tattoos got me thinking.

Ever since I was about 17 I thought about getting a tattoo — a real one. My idea of the perfect tattoo back then was a tiny rose on the outside of my right ankle.  Why my right ankle? I don’t know. Maybe I like it better than my left one. It was just the one I picked.

I always thought carefully placed tattoos could be attractive. I was never someone to favor the look of head-to-toe tattoos where a person had more color than skin, but that’s just me. I also admired those who put thought into the location of their tattoos as well as the design. 

I like the idea of being able to conceal a tattoo if you wanted to with a shirt or sock, entirely, for example. Facial tattoos are not something I feel enhance someone’s appearance, and I always wondered if it was a mistake if someone had a tattoo placed on their arm or chest that would chronically be only half exposed.  It just looks odd to me. 

I would look at a few friends I have and think, “Was that your goal? Did you only want part of your design to peek out?” acknowledging if the tattoo were about an inch lower or higher it would either be totally hidden, or completely visible. I’m fussy like that. I realize not everyone is, or cares.

However, at 17 I wasn’t 100 percent sure that I wanted to make a permanent inking commitment at that point in my life. Plus, there was no way that my parents were going to give me permission to get inked at that age. I see their point — many of the choices we make as kids are not the same ones we would make as adults. 

Hair dye and clothing styles can come and go, but if you make holes in your body, or get a tattoo, that’s a lifetime of living with it.  (I know you can get tattoos removed , but it can leave a scar; and yes, you can have them redesigned — but what if you just think your ink stinks!)

I guess it’s a good thing that I didn’t go through with some of my decisions of my earlier days, and that when I did make changes to my appearance, they were not the permanent kind for the most part, or at the very least were easy to conceal. 

I think about when I was 14 and all of my friends were dying their hair shades of fluorescent pink. I did it too. I’m so glad it wasn’t an everlasting choice, because I think I would look pretty silly walking around town with a glow-in-the-dark coif in my 30s right now. I’d be the talk of the town for sure — but not in the way I want.

And in retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t get that rose tattoo. It turns out that I’ve learned a few things along the way about my skin tone and what colors show up on it best. How do I know this? Well, I decided before taking the leap and getting a real tattoo, I better go for a test drive first. I’m not talking about using those press on or place on with water tattoos. There was a better way to do this that I discovered.

A few summers ago I was on the Point Pleasant boardwalk and there were places that offered airbrushed tattoos.  To me, the idea seemed perfect! I could try on different designs, on different parts of my body, in all kinds of colors and do a sort of try before you buy. The very authentic looking airbrushed designs last up to a week. I was so glad I experimented. 

One of the first airbrushed tattoos I tried was a blue and green intricate pattern on my lower back.  I liked the design, but the colors were not as vibrant as I had hoped they would be ,and it had nothing to do with the pigment of the paints. 

My daughter had gotten a different design painted on her thigh using the same hues, and it just showed up brighter on her skin — more vivid. Why? Because she is fairer than me. It’s just the contrast of the color. 

If I had walked into a tattoo parlor I would have regretted my initial color selection if I hadn’t learned that I’m better off with black on my back — which I confirmed a few weeks later.

I also had the artist paint a rose design on my right ankle. This was the design I sought after for years, thinking it would look fabulous. Again, I was wrong. The green stem of the rose didn’t show up well, and it didn’t look as good as I thought it would. It was hard enough for me to sport it for a week with a smile. I couldn’t imagine spending the rest of my life that way.

Another advantage to trying temporary tattoos that look realistic is to see how others around you react to it, and you. I got to swim at the beach in the summer while exposing the newly decorated skin. I could definitely notice people’s eyes drifting towards the designs. 

I didn’t mind it, but if you are deciding about getting a tattoo or two, you might want to consider the additional attention that will be given to the artwork displayed on your very personal canvas.

Even after all of that, I still didn’t take the plunge and get inked.  A few factors figure into that. Some family members have requested that I don’t get tattoos. I know, it’s my body; I should do what I want to it. But they fear if I get one or two I will then want more. 

Sure, some people do get more as time goes on, but I feel if after 20-something years I’ve never wanted more than two, chances are that’s where my symbolic skin alteration will begin and end.

I’ve researched tattoo places and tracked down the best artists.  I’ve weighed hygienic concerns and know exactly where and what I would have emblazoned on my body.  I could conceal the skin alterations if I wanted to, or display them until I felt too silly to when I’m old and gray.  I’ve heard stories about the pain endured, and am prepared for the scabbing, stinging and redness to follow.

My body is ready but my mind is still on the fence. Maybe I need to be more impulsive and less compulsive about the issues surrounding getting a tattoo and just take the plunge. Or maybe I’ll just continue to fake it, until one day I make it — to the tattoo parlor. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Benson Hedges May 24, 2012 at 02:54 AM
Why do you want to pollute your healthy skin with a color deformity? Stop being a follower.
Ralph Wiggums May 24, 2012 at 04:11 AM
Yes, stop being a follower by following the advice of Benson (sarcasm). Please sir, feel free to step off of the soap box. Laura...you are you're own person. Everybody is different. If you're comfortable with getting the ink done, you'll know. You won't be on the fence. You've done all this research and have everything taken care of but the ink. If you're gut won't let you get it done yet, there's a reason. You aren't impulsive (and that's a good thing for tattoos) and have to be at the point where you know you won't regret it. If that day comes, you'll know. If it doesn't come, you can feel better knowing you didn't get something that you might regret. You have to be willing to be married to your ink....better or worse, etc. They're not for everybody, but they fit many people. To each his own. Good luck in your decision no matter how long it takes and whatever that may ultimately be. I commend you for being very responsible in researching and not just making an impulsive decision. Best of luck.
Laura Madsen May 24, 2012 at 09:50 AM
When I first wrote this blog I didn't realize how many people have very strong feelings on this issue. Thank you both for commenting. I always try to read everyone's replies when I have something published. This same blog was also published in the Northern region of New Jersey. Here is a link to the post that was shared there. (For some reason, the comments with the blogs don't pass from region to region the way Patch has the technical end of things set up, but since this topic has spurred a lot of conversation, I thought I'd share the link here for everyone's reference.) http://hillsborough.patch.com/blog_posts/temporary-tattoo-insanity
Laura Madsen May 24, 2012 at 09:55 AM
I completely agree with your statement about not being impulsive when it comes to a decision that is so permanent. It's always good to put a lot of thought into things when you have to live with your choices for the rest of your life. Thank you for being so thoughtful with your reply. I, too, feel that tattoos are a very personal decision, and respect the choices of others.
Laura Madsen May 24, 2012 at 10:00 AM
I have learned over the past day that there are quite a few people that do feel the same way as you, Benson. However, there are others that feel the color and designs they add to their appearance are beautiful and artistic. I guess it's like art - beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If anyone gets a tattoo because they are being a follower, I agree with you, that's not a good reason to do it. You bring out a good point. When it comes to any decision of permanence, you should do it because *you* want to - not because others are. Over the 20 years that I have weighed my options when it comes to tattoos, I did ask myself if I was considering getting a tattoo because I saw some of my friends or co-workers have them; but my answer was always "no". For me, this is not something I have been thinking about because I'm copying what some others have chosen to do.

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