No, I'm not ripping off Elie's feature. I'm talking about skin ink. Tattoos. I'm a tattoo lover. I've been getting tattooed since I was 16.
My most recent one was just completed in mid-April and man did it hurt like hell. I mean, I've broken bones that didn't hurt as much. I had to endure two three hour sittings, one for the black and one for the color. The black wasn't bad. Totally overestimated that. The color . . . totally underestimated that one. See, all of the color is layered on top of itself so once the artist did one color, and the skin got nice and swollen and painful, she had to move on to the next color right on top of it. And then the next color. And then the next color. And then the next color. The last hour of the color I could hardly breathe and I barely talked because it was just too painful. The last half hour was near unbearable. Every time I moved my head the room spun and by the time she was done, I was shaking all over. I ended up shaking for about an hour afterwards. I've never had such a physical reaction to a tattoo before. But, in the end, it was worth it.
This photo was the inspiration for the piece -
This is my Lost Boys tattoo. I've been a fan of the movie since I was 11 (that would be 16 years now) and I wanted something that would be immediately recognizable to other Lost Boys fans (and representative of all that movie has done for me over the years, the people it's introduced me to and so on) but at the same time subtle to everyone else. Something that unless I said what it was, people would have no idea what it pertained to. And I got what I asked for. I often find myself staring at it.
During one of my conversations with the artist, I told her that I got my first tattoo when I was 16 at a rival shop. She continued to blast the shop (that doesn't have a great reputation to begin with, she didn't need to add her two cents to it for me to know that) and said they had no morals for tattooing someone so young.
Nowadays, tattoos on younger people don't seem to carry the same effect but should the artist be held responsible for tattooing a 16 year old? After all, the parent must be right there in order for them to get it so there is at least an adult voice contributing to the decision.
Even in YA, tattoos seem to be a lot of places. I just snagged Poison Ink by Christopher Golden in PBS about possessive tattoos. Melissa Marr's books involve tattoos and she said herself that she loves them. Cassandra Clare's Shadowhunters are littered with tattoos.
Yes, the receiver needs to understand that they're not going to scrub off. They need to understand they can be allergic to the ink. They need to understand it's going to hurt. A lot. But is it so morally reprehensible to tattoo a teenager? I do remember when I was in high school a 14 year old boy got a band around his arm. Yes, that was certainly illegal. It's was also insanely stupid as he would surely grow (especially since he was a weight lifter) and it was bound to stretch and distort as he did. Immensely stupid. I don't know if he did it with parental consent or not. Either way it shouldn't have been done. But had he been 16, would it have been okay? Should the tattoo artist exert more discretion when tattooing? Should they take responsibility and deny a customer if they're hesitant or they feel they're too young?
Really, should a teenager have the ability to make the decision to permanently alter their bodies?