By: Sarah Burns ’19
Dear 19-year-old self,
Don’t get a tattoo. I know you are seriously deliberating getting inked, but trust me, the desire will fade. I know it is hard right now since USA Today has reported that 47 percent of millennials have tattoos, and when you’re 19 that seems like everyone, but it’s not.
Tattoos range from big to little, from black to color, and from geometric to abstract. There are even black out tattoos now where the design is the only part not inked. I remember how you would go on Pinterest, find a gallery of tattoos and for a minute, your inner rebellion will contemplate getting one, but save that rebellious side for a time when it really matters.
You know darn well that if you get a tattoo your mother will cry. The reason for her tears is fear. Do you remember her stories of caring for patients in the hospital with Hepatitis C who contracted the deadly disease from dirty needles used by their tattoo artists? Her patients battled poor immune systems, depression, brain damage, hair loss, eventual liver failure, and death. Your mother was their nurse. She took those delirious patients and walked them to the bathroom every hour. She gave them new-on-the-market drugs that everyone hoped would be the miraculous savior, but they weren’t. She watched as families sat night after night in the hospital watching their loved ones deteriorate until death came pounding on their yellow-skinned door. No mother wants that for her child. Don’t put her through that fear.
Your mother’s fear isn’t irrational. The risks associated with tattoos include Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, staph, pain, itching, swelling and scarring. If you are worried about the tattoo costs now, just wait until you have to pay those hospital bills.
You are 19 years old. I know you like to think of yourself as a self-confident woman who knows what she wants in life, but let’s face it, your stubbornness hasn’t led to the greatest decision making. You are 19 and think that nothing can touch you, but you’re wrong. A tattoo is a permanent fixture on your body and who knows if you will even like it in 10 days, let alone forever.
I know all your friends say tattoos are a form of self-expression and a way of remembering someone, but there are other ways to express yourself. Your friends can express themselves however they see fit but in your future self’s opinion, the risks outweigh the “rewards” of self expression.
So my final advice is, don’t do it. Getting a tattoo does not define you as a person now, nor will it ever. Help your mom calm her fears and just don’t. A tattoo does not make you, you. What makes you, you is the person underneath the skin. Express yourself through your personality. Remember, no one ever contracted Hepatitis from their personality.
25-year old Sarah