Teen Ink



“You have a tattoo?”


“Oh my god. Did your mom let you get that?!”

That’s usually how the conversation goes when I reveal I have a tattoo. For the most part, it’s just curious onlookers. But there have been a few times where I’ve received half-scowls or the infamous I-can’t-believe-your-parents-let-you-do-that look. What can I say? I guess it just comes with the territory.

So, what’s the big deal? To a lot of people, permanent body art/modification for minors is completely unacceptable. Yet, tattoos  are becoming more and more the trend amongst teenagers of today. Are they just acts of immature, rebellious kids or creative ways of self-expression?

When I got my first tattoo, I was 15 years old. I’d planned it out for what seemed like forever. All the time I spent with sketches meant a lot to me. It was a reward from my mother for keeping my grades up, not causing any problems at school and continually going above and beyond my expectations. She also knew the reasoning about what I wanted and why I wanted it, and we came to a mutual agreement. We compromised on everything from the size to the placement.

For me, tattoos are a way for self-expression. I believe the best canvas is your body.

I’m not saying every 15 year old should be able to get a tattoo whenever. I just feel, based on maturity and logic, if a parent and child have a general understanding of the tattooing process, it should be acceptable.

For many people who oppose tattoos, legal issues are a big problem. In many states, parental consent is required to tattoo anyone under the age of 18. In some states, tattooing minors is illegal, even with consent. Some states don’t even allow minors on the premises. But, with many artists trying to make a quick buck and teens desperate to become cool, laws can be quickly disregarded.

Another big deal for people: unlicensed tattooers, aka “scratchers”. These are the shady characters that will do your kids chest piece out of his dad’s basement for 20 bucks. You can obviously see the problems that can occur with these courses of actions.

Why is it that, only in certain cases, can a teen be treated as an adult? At age 16, in North Carolina, you can be prosecuted as an adult, give sexual consent, smoke cigarettes and drive a car. These are all life-altering decisions that teens are legally able to make. So where’s the difference?

The gross over exaggeration of the negatives of tattoos are just insane. Consumerreports.org even put tattoos on their list of 10 troublesome teen trends. This list also included texting while driving, ADHD drug abuse, tobacco use and biting/cutting and blood sucking. It’s completely baffling.

My advice for many teens contemplating getting tattoos would be to think twice. Think more than twice. Carefully plan out your decisions, check state laws and most importantly, CONSULT YOUR PARENTS. They may be old and lame, but what they think ultimately does matter.

Tattoos do affect you in the long run most definitely. Do lots of research, be safe and make your tattoo decisions wisely.


  1. This was really fun to read. You made me laugh a few times, so kudos to you. I got my first tattoo when I was 16! You made a lot of really good points, and if I was your editor, I would have highlighted every sentence that I love because there are so many.


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