Tattoo Nation: Thinking of Inking?

Goldie Hawn did it in Tahiti for her 60th birthday a small blue heart on her ankle. Susan Sarandon did it age 61. She got a a 10-inch column of 3 intertwined Gothic letters on her upper spine (E, J, M) for each of her childrens names. She said that by having her kids initials tattooed on her back, she feels like they are always with her. But isnt the goal to get our kids off our backs?

In the future, tattoos will be commonplace among women over 50. If you have seen the ink on girls walking around this summer showing off lush landscaping from waist to underarms, you know what I mean. Even women in their 30s and 40s have multiple tats and theyre not called tramp stamps any more. Women of all ages, occupations, and income levels sport skin art coast to coast: Jessica Lange has a Celtic knot on her wrist and Sandra Bullock, bless her heart, has a tasteful tribal design below her navel.

My sister got a peacock on her thigh at age 38 and an orange flower on a vine on her ankle when she turned 50. When the woman cutting our hair this week, in her 50s, said she wanted a tattoo of bamboo on the top of her foot I suddenly had a vision of adding a leafy stalk myself in honor of my 60th birthday, which was that very day. Later, my sister corrected my vision: No, Carmen said she wanted a Betty Boop tattoo on her foot. Eeek! I dont think so.

I may be the only holdout with a tattoo-free body when I die. But am I ready to make a permanent commitment to a design or word message that may not appeal to me when Im even older than I am now? Should I give in to a trend that has been growing since the early 1990s or should I preserve the vast, blank ordinariness of my body? Some feel their tattoos are the storyboard of their life, signposts of the journey, and that each tat should mark a milestone and reflect who you are at a particular time of your life. But family names and initials are increasingly common according to tattoo experts. However, since the most common reason for painful tattoo removal or alteration is that the person whose name you committed to your body forever has now moved on, stick to childrens names or the evergreen Mom. Remember it took 5 painful laser treatments for Angelina Jolie split to have Billly Bob removed from her arm. She replaced it with the geographic coordinates of her childrens birthplaces.It goes without saying that teenagers cannot comprehend that the cartoon character they choose to tattoo on their hand at 21 may look out of place at a board meeting of shareholders at age 41. Perhaps the most important question for a girl to consider, especially when it comes to tattooing her chest with a skull or other dark and rebellious symbols, is Do you think you will ever wear a dress?
For women of a certain age, there are practical reasons for tattoos. A scuba diver friend tattooed her lips pink and her eyebrows dark so she would always look put together when she emerged from the depths of the sea. Since I cant imagine always wearing the same color lipstick that is not for me. Another friend, who is a caregiver for the elderly, and her husband had matching hearts with DNR (for Do Not Resuscitate) tattooed above their real hearts in case either is in an accident far from home and a close relative cant be reached. Bamboo, Betty Boop, a birthday cake or a timeless quote? Maybe a happy Buddha or an angel delivering carry-out food or the menu of my favorite restaurant or a plate of pasta something that Id like to look at every day. Maybe something useful I keep forgetting like Breathe on my palm. For now, Im ok with just thinking of inking. If you, too, are stumped, try sitting outside a coffee shop on campus on one of these last days of summer when girls are still showing lots of skin. Youll see a parade of skin art heading into the future. Or try a temporary tattoo henna (which lasts about a month), kids sticker transfers (a few showers), or airbrush design (4-6 days). A tattoo is forever. You gotta love it.Bio note: Judy Kirkwood writes about life from Delray Beach, Florida.
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