Although I’ve been a tattooed member of the Millennial generation for four years now, I’ve recently been bothered by a series of misconceptions about me as a result of having tattoos. It’s no secret that people with tattoos have a bad wrap and it was something I was aware I would have to deal with. But as an increasing number of people have tattoos – especially young people – I have to wonder when those misconceptions will change.
According to a great article on FiveThirtyEight, 38 percent of people ages 18 to 29 have at least one tattoo. Of them, 26 percent said they had two or more. Considering the majority of Sassy Gal readership is women in their teens to their mid-thirties, I would expect that the same general statistics apply and many of you probably have tattoos. In that case, you know the injustices I’m talking about and would probably love to join me in ranting about them. Even if you don’t have a tattoo, I would love the chance to try and explain the appeal.
Here are five of the main misconceptions people have about tattoos and why they are inaccurate.
1. Tattoos are indications of poor character.
The person who has been bothering me – an 87-year-old man – repeatedly says upon seeing my tattoo – which is a horse on my shoulder – that he mistook me for an attractive, professional young woman. Now, I did not change to become less professional in the moment of time it took you to notice my tattoo, nor did I make a conscience decision to abandon my morals and replace them with a tattoo. Tattoos are NOT concentrated bundles of morals being expelled from the body.
It is also narrowly thought that if you have a tattoo, you must be a biker, a bartender, a drug dealer, a criminal or an unemployed thug. However, people who have tattoos do not fit into these narrow job descriptions. They can be college students, web designers, carpenters, business owners, etc. who have endless potential. Never mind the fact that the people who have tattoos are often some of the kindest, friendliest, most hardworking people you will meet whether or not they fit the stereotype of being a biker or bartender.
2. If you have a tattoo, you’ll never be able to reach your career goals.
The unfortunate truth is that there are plenty of judgmental people who will not hire someone who has tattoos in order to keep up the professional appearance of their business. However, I’ve recently come in contact with plenty of successful people who have ink. Sometimes the key is strategically getting the tattoos in places where they can be covered up until you can be comfortable revealing them. Sometimes it means branching out on your own. And sometimes it’s just about projecting confidence and knowing that your tattoos do not make you any less qualified for a job than someone without them. Frankly, if someone can’t accept what you choose to do with YOUR own body, why would you want to work for them anyway?
3. Tattoos are unhealthy and lead to infection.
Another argument against tattoos is that you are knowingly injecting toxins into your body that will cause an early death. After doing some research through WebMD and Mayo Clinic, I haven’t found any evidence of this being true – at least not through the use of modern tattooing methods.
It is indeed true that the actual tattooing process can be risky, health-wise. Some people are compelled to vomit. Others succumb to low blood sugar and pass out, so it’s important to eat well and keep sugary snacks on hand. A very small number of people have an allergic reaction to the metal inside the ink, which causes inflammation and scarring.
One of the most common concerns is that you might receive an infection from the needles the tattooist uses. If the needle has been contaminated with infected blood, you risk contracting tetanus, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. However, you would risk the same if you needed a blood transfusion. It is all about trusting your tattooist and making sure that they are following the proper procedures.
After the tattoo has successfully healed, continued negative effects are very uncommon. The FDA approves the ink used for tattooing and has yet to deem it unsafe. Given the proper circumstances and accordance with federal and state regulations, there is no reason why tattoos should be considered unsafe.
4. It is unwise and foolish to get a tattoo, because it will look terrible when you are older and you will regret getting it.
The idea of permanently changing your body is scary to some people. Getting a tattoo is indeed a big commitment that should not be taken lightly. You have to seriously consider, ‘What am I willing to live with for the rest of my life?'” However, if you have seriously thought through your decision rather than impulsively deciding on a tattoo during a drunken night out, you probably will never regret it. I tend to go by the rule of thumb, ‘If it has been more than a year and I still want the same tattoo, I won’t get tired of it,’ though for some people that might seem like a long time to stew over an idea. There are also excellent tattoo artists out there who are fully capable of doing awesome cover-ups, should you change your mind later.
It is my firm belief that if you get a tattoo that truly means something to you and tells a little bit of the story of who you are, you will never grow tired of it even when you grow older. Sure, wrinkles might change your art’s appearance a bit, but what matters is what it means to you.
5. Tattoos are only for young people and thus, indicate that the Millennial generation is full of delinquents.
It is true that the Millennial generation holds the most tattoos, but there are plenty of older people with tattoos as well. In fact, according to FiveThirtyEight, 1 in 3 people ages 30 to 45 have at least one tattoo. We are surrounded by ink everywhere – except for maybe in nursing/retirement homes, as only 6 percent of people 65 and older have a tattoo.
Furthermore, as I have stated previously, having a tattoo does not indicate delinquency. There are plenty of problems that the Millennial generation does have – they don’t have as great of a drive to work, they are often disrespectful, they feel entitled to things – but these problems were in no way caused by tattoos. To simplify the problem of Millennial delinquency to the fact that so many of us have tattoos is ignorant and by no means identifies or begins to fix the true issues at hand.