11 Fashion Journal readers share their tattoo regrets

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11 Fashion Journal readers share their tattoo regrets

How People Feel About Their Tattoos

“I wish I’d resisted my teenage urge to rebel.”

Like any beauty or fashion fad, tattoos follow their own trend cycle. Do you remember when everyone was getting Deathly Hallows symbols on their ribcages and tiny moustaches permanently inked on their index fingers? I do, because I thought it was incredibly cool. Now, not so much.

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Whether it was a drunk blunder, a lockdown stick and poke, a shaky artist or simply a bad decision, we asked Fashion Journal readers to tell the stories of their regrettable tattoos.

Shannon*, 23, she/her
I wanted this beautiful little devil lady finely tattooed on my inner bicep. Still to this day, I think the image itself is so cute. However, I completely underestimated how long the appointment would take and booked it on a lunch break at my job.

Because I was in a rush, I wasn’t concerned about the position or size of the tattoo, I just wanted to get out of there ASAP (I didn’t want to get in trouble with my boss). The tattoo ended up being about four times the size I wanted it (which is completely my fault). I’m now three sessions into tattoo removal and this lil’ cute lady is going to set me back thousands. Just don’t rush it.

Malia*, 18, she/her
Back in my hippie astrology bitch phase, I did a stick and poke moon on my finger and it ended up looking like the Stonehedge emoji. My tattoo regret isn’t as much personal regret but regret for the world of fashion.

The tattoos that seem to be trendy at the moment (like the spiky black skulls and stars and shit)… I don’t know how to explain it. Do you know the ones in talking about? The ones everyone has in Melbourne. They’re bound to go out of style, which is why I refuse to follow any sort of tattoo trend.

Sheereen, 34, she/her
How many people get their own name tattooed on themselves as their first tattoo? I can name one: me. In an attempt to rebel against an extremely strict father (the only male friends I had were my brothers), I moved out of his home at 18 into my mother’s house.

With Mum being the most vivacious person I know, I told her about my want for a tattoo. I said, “I need this and I’ve thought about it and you’re going to love it”. Hesitantly, she agreed, saying “It’s your body but please not on your arms, legs or chest”.

With this newfound freedom, I asked my (male) friend where he got his tattoos and proceeded to book in. My name means ‘Sweet’ in Farsi. As a homage to my mum (who only addresses me as such), I got my name tattooed on my foot. I selected a serif font that I saw on a shop front about half an hour before my appointment. I paid $160 for it and have hated it ever since.

Despite its size (no bigger than a pinkie finger), it’s near impossible to find open-toed shoes that will cover it or a ballet flat that compliments it. Even my wedding day heels had to cover it or it wasn’t an option. Since then, each tattoo proceeding has been thoughtful, cute and loved.

Yasmin*, 28, she/her
My ex-husband’s name down my pelvis bone. We both got them in Bangkok on NYE. Not necessarily a regret, but something I don’t recommend either…

Gloria*, 22, she/her
After a fight with my parents as a teen, I impulsively booked in for a butterfly tattoo (they were all the rage at the time.) The artist used stick-and-poke and was quite amateur, so now the ink has bled into my skin and the lines are quite blurred. I wanted to look tough at the time but now I just wear long sleeves to cover it because it doesn’t match my aesthetic at all. I wish I’d resisted my teenage urge to rebel.

Zeina*, 31, she/her
I grew up with super-strict parents, which is just a recipe for rebellion. After moving out, I drank a little too much, dated the wrong people, got my nipples pierced… the usual stuff. But I truly didn’t have tattoos on my mind until my friend (after a few wines) proposed they try their hand at a stick and poke tattoo.

At 24, I was still petrified of my parents. But now desperate for a stick and poke tattoo (like I said, had never wanted one previously) I decided to get a dolphin on my buttcheek. I figured no one would ever see it there (I forgot about having sex with people). It hurt and bled a surprising amount. Years later, it kind of looks like I sat on ink with my bare buttocks.

Eli*, 24, she/they
I don’t regret my tattoo itself but I regret the way it was done. I think tattoo artists can be a little too disconnected from the fact that they’re altering someone’s body/life. I was nervous about my first tattoo and wanted the artist to work with me to find a design that I’d be happy with.

It was all fine until they got fed up and rushed me to decide on the final design (which I wasn’t yet happy with); they basically bullied me into it. Now I’m left with a tattoo that’s too big, not the design I wanted, and can’t be changed. All because the tattoo artist didn’t want to do another quick modification on the design.

I think this is quite common. Tattoo artists can be quite overbearing. I know a lot of people who have had tattoos end up like this.

Bella*, 26, she/her
I got a matching tattoo with my super long-term ex. I actually really like the tattoo but it makes me sad to look at and think of them. I don’t think I’d get it removed… as time passes, so will the emotional attachment I have towards it (and hopefully my ex). At least I didn’t get their name tattooed.

Fatuma*, 30, she/they
It’s a Harry Potter symbol from my teens. Since JK Rowling revealed herself to be a transphobic arsehole, it’s become my ‘dark mark’. I hate that I’m branded with a TERF’s work. I’m currently undergoing laser.

My other one is a bit different. I had a beautiful tattoo done by an amazing and well-respected artist. The tattoo itself is beautiful, but I really didn’t like the artist. Their energy was awful, they were gatekeeping and making fun of other tattoos I have… they thought they were some kind of local celebrity.

The entire session was all about them. Everything they said was purely performative. I hated my time with them and how they made me feel, so I associate that visually beautiful tattoo with my experience with that person. I can’t help but hate it.

It’s not just the image and artwork, it’s a transfer of energy. As a heavily-tattooed person, it’s just as much about the artist and their intention (ie. making you look and feel great).

Maryanne*, 25, she/her
I let one of my best friends do a stick and poke of an abstract sunset when I was about 20. I was laying down on her kitchen floor and she tattooed it on my ribs. The tattoo actually turned out well. I didn’t really regret it until this person I was sleeping with asked “Why do you have a marijuana leaf tattooed on your ribs, I thought you didn’t smoke?”

Now every time I look at that tattoo that’s all I see. I still think it’s nice because my friend did it but it’s been tainted. It gives big ‘420 blaze it’ vibes and that’s not what I’m about. Laser hair removal hurts so much for me that I’ll stick with my tattoo (they use the same machine for tattoo removal).

Frida*, 24, she/her
I’m not sure if I fully regret it – I’m still pretty on the fence about it. I have a ribcage tattoo that I got when I was 18. I went with my friend and wasn’t sure what to get (she was paying for mine as a present).

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I made my mind up maybe five mins before we went in. I think if we’d gone to a different artist, I wouldn’t be so unsure about it. The design is actually pretty cool.

The size and thickness of the line aren’t what I wanted, despite being explicit about it. The meaning behind it is to not get hung up on things and to be chill about life, so to remove it would be pretty contradictory.

*Names have been changed.

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