In the United Kingdom at current, the legal age at which to get a tattoo is 18 years old. Is this a good age?
Some seem to think it is too young, some think it’s too old, and some just think tattoos are a no-go altogether. I know I got my first tattoo when I was barely sixteen. It wasn’t in this country though.
I had dreamed about all the different kinds of tattoos that I would get since I saw someone in a swimming pool once with a beautiful flower arrangement tattoo. It was black and white and on her back and I just remember thinking the detail was incredible. After that I started watching LA Ink, and absolutely fell in love with Kat Von D. To get tattooed by her is still a priority on the bucket list, but by the time I can afford it and the waiting list dies down, I think I may be dead. I’ll never stop dreaming though!
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Watching tattoo programmes made me realise how beautiful they were, and for three or four years before I got my first, it was all I could think about. We went to Spain to visit some family friends and one of them had just become a tattooist. He had trained himself and had a big portfolio and all his equipment seemed proper and clean so I trusted him. I was 16 at the time but that’s the legal age out there as long as a parent signed a consent form.
Now, I was a very assertive child; once my mind was made up about something that was it, I had to do it no matter what. Therefore, I think my mum knew either way I’d end up talking her round so that was probably why she agreed quickly.
She was worse than I was, she had a cigarette in one hand, and a shot of vodka in the other ready for when I cried in pain. It was bearable though but my mum definitely was not!
In my own personal opinion, I had known for years and years that I was always going to get a tattoo, so 16 was a good age for me because I had had time to think about it. All of my tattoos are very personal to me with specific meanings, so I do not regret a single tattoo I have.
Not everyone is like me though; some people nowadays will think it’s a good idea to get a tattoo on a drunken night out and only realise when they wake up in the morning. Some young kids these days only want tattoos because they see favourite stars like Rihanna and One Direction sporting theirs. Tattoos have become a much more popular fashion statement than they were in previous times and people don’t appreciate them for the beautiful art that it is. So maybe young and impressionable 18 year olds shouldn’t have the power to make such a permanent decision at that age.
However, if that was really the case, they shouldn’t be allowed to drink alcohol, or smoke, or vote.
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‘I think you should be able to do what they want. At the end of a day it’s a life lesson in itself if you get a tattoo at that age and regret it later on.’ Says Thomas Steel, 19.
On the other hand…
‘I know that when you turn 18 you’re an adult. I didn’t grow up til I turned 40. Even into their thirties people are following the latest trends and fashion statements so I don’t think some people will ever be responsible enough to take the commitment of a tattoo seriously.’ Says Susan Photi, 45.
There is definitely an element of ‘Where do you draw the line?’ here; I personally think I was ready well before 18 for a tattoo and now at the age of 20 I still don’t regret any tattoo that I have and I love them all. However, I also know some people my age who thought it was a good idea to get the Tesco logo inked on them on a drunken night out (that tattoo has since been lasered off by the way).
I suppose when you legally become an adult you are responsible for yourself and your actions whether you’re ready for it or not. You are always going to have wise people, and not so wise people in the world so it really is down to the individual.