Taking time to consider a tattoo may be better than regret and removal later

Tattoo Mistake

This article first appeared in the Sunday Herald Sun

ABOUT 15 per cent of Australians have tattoos, about a third of those have  regrets and just over 10 per cent are having them removed. The numbers of those going under the inky needle are still rising but also going up are the numbers who wish they hadn’t.

That’s because as people with ink grow older, they are far more likely to regret it.

Now, before I’m flooded with hate mail from inked-up fingers, if you love your tattoos and have never thought of getting rid of them, good on you. I’ve got a few friends and family covered in ink and they look superb. Most of their tattoos are well-considered masterpieces. Some of them, though, are more like the girl I dated who let a tattoo artist doodle random lines on her right leg — think anything that involves a football club, the Southern Cross or a cartoon character.

I’ve never wanted a tattoo, though people have often said to me, “Isn’t there something or someone you’d like to remember forever?” To which I reply: “If something’s that important, I’m sure I won’t forget it.”

There’s also the option to take a photograph or paint a picture and put it on a wall. You know, like we’ve been doing for centuries.

But it’s your skin and up to you what you do with it. It’s a fact, though, that the tattoo removal business is also booming and a glance at their prices reveals it’s more expensive to remove a tattoo than get one done. Like tens of dollars, compared with thousands.

So what would be best is a tattoo that fades as the skin ages and sags, something that disappears with its attractiveness. But the technology isn’t available and I seem to be the only one calling for it.

Another solution would be a tax on tattoos — to reflect the cost of getting them removed. That way, those on a mind-numbing bender, lost in love, or otherwise having an unforgettable time who are certain that getting inked immediately is an amazing idea, might slow down and think again.

Or perhaps we need a cooling-off period. Those serious about their tattoos surely wouldn’t mind waiting a week, while those who decide on the spur of the moment to get the name of the girl they just met in a bar written across their lower back will have a few days to reconsider. It might lower the profits of the tattoo and the tattoo removal industries, but surely it’s better to live a world of near misses rather than painful regrets.

This article first appeared in the Sunday Herald Sun

Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian.

His second comedy memoir ‘Going Out of My Mined’ is available now.

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