Dudes! Ladies! Listen up: DO NOT GET A TATTOO!!!!!

20 Oct

First of all, my friends, if you already have a tattoo, I LOOOOOOVVVE it. It looks so good on YOU! Don’t change a thing! You’re adorable! Many of my dearest and most brilliant friends display examples the ancient art of tattooing. I appreciate its venerable past and that special combination of rebelliousness and search for beauty that it conjures up. . And I also know, my friends, that you are the owners of your bodies and the captains of your souls.

However, if you do not have a tattoo, and yes, I am speaking to a certain 18-year-old with purple hair and a lip ring who shall remain nameless, among others, DO NOT GET ONE. THEY ARE NOT SAFE.

Yes, there are awkward situations with tattoos and job interviews—perhaps less than there used to be, but nonetheless, moments when perhaps the strapless gown seems like a bad idea or perhaps the longsleeved shirt would be a wiser choice than the tank top even if it’s 110 degrees. Or those “I love Winona” Fails. Or, the really spiritual Hindu word—or so you think—that turns out to mean something very different. I know there are those who think it’s utterly implausible that anyone would EVER be judged on their looks, but anyone who has ever picked up a People Magazine and seen stars constantly being chided for either being too frumpy or too slutty might feel differently. Was Kate Middleton’s dress “too much”? Or “not enough.” It’s a fine line, young Padewan.

My main two problems with tattooing are as follows. One is serious, one is not. Naturally, I will go with the deeply unserious one first.

  1. 1.    Lack of master planning.

Tattooing often seems to go hand in hand with that lighthearted spirit of individuality that makes one so deeply alive to the moment and the excitement of getting Jesus on a skateboard dressed in an American flag and sunglasses emblazoned on one’s chest that one forgets that one might later want to turn to another, deeply unrelated theme. Perhaps you will go through an Incan phase later, or just want a delicate little rose on your left buttock cheek or a dragon—how could I leave out dragons? Or “In Memory of Hector” all across your back (seriously, one definitely gets an education on body art going to a Waterpark).  Or the rolling ship on the stomach, or the Yin and Yang symbol or what have you. Let’s face it, We Contain Multitudes. Who knows what might seem like a good idea once you’ve got Jesus in the American Flag taken care of. But the problem is, Fashionistas, and I hope you will appreciate the full horror of this sentence: Your. Outfit. Will. Not. Match.  Do I need to repeat this?

  1. Okay, there are three problems. Tattoos get real old, real fast

Look in your closet. Or better yet, look in your mother’s closet. Does she have some really old dresses with giant shoulderpads? Hello, 1980s. Guess what she can do? Stuff them in a bag and palm them off on Goodwill. And then buy new ones. But for you, fashion will always be frozen in 2012. Your outfit, the one you will always have on if you catch my drift,  the one that’s going to be slowly migrating south over the years and shriveling like a Granny Apple left on the windowsill for a month, will NEVER change. Groovy!

3. But let me get to the real problem: TATTOOS ARE NOT SAFE!!!

Yes, there are reputable tattooists. They use clean needles. They sanitize everything. You could eat off their chairs. Their hearts are as pure as a mountain spring and their talent is a divine wellspring. They aren’t the bad tattooists who spread HIV and Hepatitis C. But as sterilized as the best tattooists are, they cannot environment is, they cannot promise you that the ink is safe. Because the FDA does not regulate tattoo ink. That lathering of Ivory Soap that glides right off your skin with a splash of water has been tested on thousands of hapless lab rats. That ink you want to inject deep into your skin contains whatever the hell is lying around in the inkmaker’s den. Some of the substances found in tattoo ink include antifreeze, mercury, lead, car paint, and dirty water containing mold and bacteria. In fact,, a new outbreak of disease caused by a bacteria called nontuberculous Mycobacteria (NTM) has been linked to a recent outbreak from contaminated tattoo inks. According to the FDA, these bacteria can cause a number of dangerous organ infections, including lung disease, eye disease, and others. They’re hard to spot. You need a specialist who can understand the nature of the papules—yeah, you really want papules, right/ That sounds good—that are symptomatic of NTM infections.

That’s not the only problem. If you need an MRI, a tattoo that contains metal (sometimes used in eyelining, but possibly in other tattoos as well) can burn you as MRIs are magnetic. Many people get rashes—some of them that stay for years—from tattoos. And trying to remove tattoos is extremely expensive and stirs up carcinogens. So for the 50 percent of people who regret getting tattoos, there can be more danger in removing them than letting them lie.

So, my friends—especially that purple-haired one with the lip ring—get that Skateboarding Jesus if you must. But don’t do it without weighing not just the you of today, but the you of the rest of your whole life. Because that sucker is going to be with you for a long, long time.

Writing Spark: Best and worst tattoos ever?????? Would you get one? Do you have one? Are you glad you have it? Would you do it again???

Resources:

Tattoo Ink–Related Infections — Awareness, Diagnosis, Reporting, and Prevention (New England Journal of Medicine)

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1206063

 

The Dangerous Art of the Tattoo http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/articles/2008/07/25/the-dangerous-art-of-the-tattoo?page=2

http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm316357.htm

Tattoo Inks Pose Health Risks

http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/news/20120822/studies-question-safety-tattoo-ink

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