We Asked 3 Middle-Aged Women If They Regret Getting Tattooed
For the adorned, the most adrenaline-inducing sound is the buzz-buzz-buzz of a tattoo machine. The worst sound the tattooed hear are the oft-repeated words: You’re going to regret that when you’re older. To fact-checkthe validity of such claims, we spoke with three tattooed women over the age of 50.
They talkedabout the importance of sunscreen, how tattoos do make you a badass and the transformative power of wearable art.
Briony, age 62
Briony lives in California, and has collected tattoos since she was 19, eventually working as an artist herself, apprenticing out of the same tattoo shop where she first got inked.
So how’d you get into tattoos?
I had to be 19 when I got my first tattoo. I had thought about it for quite a while, and my husband [at the time] said, “OK, I’ll get you your first tattoo.”
He got me a book on Japanese ghost stories. One of them was a woodblock print by Yoshitoshi, from the late 19th century. There was a little figure in the corner of it that caught my attention; it’s a fantastic figure in Japanese folklore called a tengu. I thought he was the cutest thing I’d ever seen.
I took him over to Sunset Strip Tattoo. [The artist] showed me how big it had to be, and the next thing I know I was getting this $500 tattoo on my shoulder blade, which is quite large. I was completely hooked by the whole process.
What are some of your other pieces?
My left arm is all autumn-colored leaves and birds.
The right arm is much more graphic. I’ve got a Pacific Northwest otter on the forearm and a design that was done for me. This is what happens when tattoo artist gets bored at a tattoo convention!
As an artist, what advice do you have abouttaking care of tattoos?
Sunburn is the one thing that will destroy a tattoo faster than anything. I used to tell my clients all the time, “If it will bleach out your porch roof, it will bleach your tattoos.” It just destroys them. I do not do sun!
The princess on my right hip, her feet were done with single needle, and those lines are still hair thin. The only one that has faded at all is the Pacific Northwest otter on my left forearm. The red has definitely faded. I should probably someday think about getting it touched up.Red as a pigment is problematic.
Sunblock is the only way to protect them. My tattoos are really, really, beautiful. They still look as vibrant as they did the day that they were finished and all of them are over 20 years old.
Cathie, age 58
Cathie is a South Carolina grandmother who started her collection not too long ago and is already itching for more.
Shari, age 53
Shari, from Wyoming, is a tattooed midwife who also works with sexual assault survivors, and has helped heal some of her own pain through tattoos.
Will you tell me a little bit about yourself?
I have three sons and a daughter. My sons are 33, 31, 23 and my daughter is 14.I was married to their dad for about 23 years.I got divorced and I thought, “I’m never getting married again.”
I’m an alcoholic and a drug addict in grateful recovery. So that’s been a very long journey. I had to take a break from midwifery, I had to go to rehab and get well.
But, about six years into being single and thinking I wasn’t ever going to meet anybody, I just met this man who rocked my world and I got remarried. He happened to have a lot of tattoos. I always thought that they were really cool, but it never dawned on me that they would be something I was interested in.
But then I decided one day that I wanted some sort of meaningful thing about my career as a nurse midwife on my body. So [my husband] took me to a tattoo parlor and I got the word midwife tattooed on my right shoulder. I’vehelped deliverabout 2,000babies in my lifetime. That’s a lot of babies!
So there you have it. The next time somebody tells you you’re going to regret that tattoo when you’re “old,” just remember these badass ladies and the many others like them, who are still rocking their ink and loving it. No regrets.