As a society, we’ve come a long way in our stance on tattoos and piercings. 50 years ago, inking your body or having multiple piercings was seen as something done only by criminals or motorcycle gangs. 20 years ago, body art grew in popularity but still wasn’t okay to display in the workplace. Today, it’s become pretty much mainstream.
Despite the general acceptance, some still view tattoos and piercings as something done only by the young. But that perception is beginning to change.
In this article, we’ll explore why more older adults are getting their first tattoo or piercing, and how this can be a powerful form of self-expression.
There are many reasons why, as women, we may choose to get a tattoo, piercing, or other form of artistic expression on their bodies later in life.
Perhaps we thought about doing it when we were young, but didn’t want to commit to a specific style, or nothing really resonated with us enough to place on our body permanently.
As we age and gain life experience, we understand ourselves better. We know what’s important to us. Thus, we may be able to better select a design that reflects our values; a symbol that has meaning.
Tattoo regret is real. In one survey of 600 people, 74% percent of people who got a tattoo regret doing so. Reasons for this include:
- Impulsivity. They acted without fully understanding the long-term consequences of having a tattoo on their body.
- Youth. They were young and excited to do something fun without fully thinking it through.
- Relationship/life changes. They tattooed the name of an ex-partner, or a symbol of something that once had meaning but no longer does.
- Poor execution. The tattoo wasn’t done well, has faded a lot over time, or they no longer like how it looks.
This tattoo regret seems to be more common among youth. In another survey, 91% of those who regret getting a tattoo were younger than 30.
For some women, getting a tattoo, piercing, or body art was something they always wanted but they were concerned about the stigma attached to doing so. Now that this stigma has mostly faded away, they feel more comfortable about the idea.
Finally, some women may choose to get inked later in life as a form of artistic expression. The experience can be very liberating and rewarding – a way to celebrate who they are and what they stand for represented as body art.
Though we fully encourage those who want to get a tattoo later in life to go for it, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention some potential concerns to be aware of.
Here are a few things to think about when considering whether to get a tattoo as an older adult.
As we age, our skin isn’t as supple and tight as it was when we were 20. It’s also thinner, so the tattoo process may be more painful and the healing period longer. You may want to choose a design that’s not as detailed, on a part of your body that’s thicker and has more fat for the best and least painful results.
Since tattoos can cause bleeding, talk to your healthcare provider if you’re taking blood thinners or heart medications. And of course, follow all standard tattoo safety precautions. This includes during the procedure (sterilization, equipment use) and afterwards (keeping the area clean and protected).
Tattooing and body art can be an emotionally rewarding, liberating experience. And despite the misconception, there’s no age limit on getting a tattoo, piercing, or other form of body art. If it’s something you want to do, we say go for it!
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