Blonde hair, blue eyes, yeah - I have the typical 'girl next door' look - so it may surprise you to find out that I have tattoos. No, that wasn't a typo, I actually have four inkings that I have accumulated over the last five years. Tattoos have been considered to be a bit of a taboo topic, but every day our society seems to become more and more accepting and even embracing of the new 'inked generation'. Tattoos are nothing new, heck my 74-year-old grandfather has a huge tiger on his arm from his time in the navy, but as of 10 or so years ago tattoos have become a lot more mainstream, and I would even go as far to say that amongst my generation people with tattoos are almost as common than those without them*.

Today I am here to address some of the stigmas surrounding tattoos and to answer some of the questions that I typically get asked when I reveal my ink to others for the first time - I think I'll cover the obvious first:

Did they hurt?
Yes. Why is this even a question?
When did you get them?
One when I was 18, two at 19, and one at 20.
Where they expensive?
I don't have any large pieces, but I'd say that mine were all under £60? When you go bigger though, the cost can even reach into the thousands.
What tattoos do you have?
I feel like keeping some of the mystery alive, so I'm not going to tell you exactly what I have, but I will say that three of them are script-based (like my latest one above) and one is an image.

A question that is always asked but needs a longer explanation is: 'What will you look like when you get older?' First off, I will look old - and a tattoo isn't going to change that. I know not everyone is the same, but my tattoos are more about the message and the memories attached to them than the actual art/aesthetic side, so when I'm older I won't be fretting about them possibly looking 'gross' - I will be remembering my best friends and I getting up early the day after my 19th birthday and heading down to town to get inked**, I'll remember finding a shop on a dingy side street in Causeway Bay (HK) and getting my first tattoo a month before moving to the UK, I'll remember how my fourth inking (the one pictured) has given me strength when I've needed it - no matter how 'clich├ę' or 'overused' the quote may be, and I'll remember the exact moment in my life when on a whim I found myself getting a design in my friends handwriting in my second year of university. So no, I'm not worried about how it will look when I'm older - plus at the rate our generation is adding to their tattoo collections, it'll probably be the norm when I reach my later years.

Next, we have the famous 'what if you regret it??' As mentioned above, these tattoos all have deep meaning to me, so even if I come to dislike an actual design in the future, I still will not regret the memories attached to it, and that's enough reassurance for me. My biggest tip when getting a tattoo if you're worried about this is to really think about it. Two out of the four of my tattoos were brainstormed for at least a year before finally getting them (I wimped out and got a smaller design for my first tattoo, and my third one was on a whim) and quite honestly, the two that didn't have as much thought put into them are the only two that I would consider changing/adding to. Never get something that permanent on a whim - think long and hard about the idea/font/size/design, and I promise you, you won't want to change it for a thing. Despite occasionally brainstorming about changes I could make to those two, I still don't regret them for a second because they will always bring me back to that particular moment in my life, and that's a wonderful memento.

One thing that I've always stuck by is that whatever tattoo I get, I don't want others to know about until I choose to show them. In other words, the only outfit that I wear that allows them to be visible is my underwear/bikini. This is a personal choice, and whilst it would be an outright lie to say that this wasn't influenced by our society's view on tattoos, that is not my main reasoning for it. For me, I quite like the mystery behind it; it's like my dirty little secret that you have to know me well enough to learn about (well not now, haha!) What I mean is, you would never know from walking past me on the street that I have tattoos, and I like it that way - not because I think that people with visible tattoos should be frowned upon, simply because I like walking around with a secret (a secret I often forget about, that is!) Their placements are great also because I don't see them every second of every day, which means that I never seem to tire of them - which was something I've worried about in the past.

Personally, I find the stereotypes surrounding tattooed people these days so outdated and irrelevant. No, they are not just for criminals, and no - you do not need to be a particular type of person to get one. To some, they can just be an expression of art; a way to turn their body into a canvas for the whole world to see, and for others, like myself, they are more of a souvenir from our past, reminding us of significant times in our lives. Yes, there are people out there who have perhaps been persuaded by the latest 'fashion trend' or want to feel 'cool' or 'alternative', but a huge majority of the people I've met with tattoos have a great attachment to their pieces, and the fact that our society often automatically groups us with unsavory characters from stereotypes of past generations makes me really sad. That being said, people have become a lot more tolerant (for lack of a better word) when it comes to visible tattoos, however, the major resistance does appear to come from the older generations because tattoos simply were not a norm for them, and I totally respect this viewpoint. I can also definitely see why some companies would steer away from heavily tattooed people for higher profile jobs, but I would like to see further development in our mindsets when it comes to things like employment, because as the stereotypes are no longer true, neither should the prejudice be.

What are your views on tattoos? What are the worst stereotypes you've come across? 

Isobel x

* Do not quote me on this, it is only an observation. 
** Apologies for this lame phrase, but there really aren't many ways to say 'get a tattoo'

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