Preparing yourself for that all-important tattoo decision

If you’ve been watching the new season of Orange is the New Black, you’re probably as obsessed with new cast-member Ruby Rose as we are. We think she’s all kinds of rad, and so are her tattoos. (Yes, she’s got an Archer homage on her torso. Amazing.) So in case you’re feeling inspired by Rose (or anyone else for that matter), we’ve got some handy tips from a tat vet and HelloGiggles reader on getting your first ink.

So, you think you’re finally ready to get your first tattoo? If after you trying out stick-ons, sharpies and henna, you’re ready to go straight for the home plate, let’s talk tats. After all, this is pretty permanent stuff. Ink isn’t usually a decision you make on the fly.* There are a few things you should consider first.

Ask yourself: Do you really love it? This design will be forever imbedded into your skin, so it better be love and not just an infatuation. This is not the time to have a fling with some sketchy design you’ll come to hate. This, my friend, is a commitment. Do a background check. If it’s text, is it spelled correctly? If it’s a symbol from another culture, are you 100% clear on its meaning and significance? Cultural appropriation ain’t too classy, folks, so be careful. Is it super trendy? Everyone (including you) might be SO OVER IT in five years.

Love is pain, and the first time will probably hurt, so be ready for it. Consider taking an OTC painkiller before you go. BUT, check with your tattoo parlour first. Many of them are very particular about what you can and can’t take before getting inked, because of liability issues. Some people say it hurts like hell, and some people say it just feels like a scratch. Everyone’s experience is different. You’ll have to baby it for a few days to make sure it takes, so this is not the best time for an impromptu weekend in the sand.

Speaking of your tattoo parlour, do your research there, too. You don’t want any random person sticking a needle in you. There’s a lot to check into – how do they rank in cleanliness, level of experience and client satisfaction? Different artists have different styles. Make sure you have a look at your tattoo artist’s previous work before you commit. Do you like it? Does it fit what you want? Has the artist seen your design and understand what you’re looking for? Can they deliver? The people demand answers.

Get ready for your family’s reaction. Unless you choose a VERY discreet location, eventually you’re gonna have to bring this bad boy home to meet the family. Whether you discuss it first or surprise them depends entirely on you (and probably your age and relationship with them). In most places, if you’re a minor, your legal guardians get to have a say in this decision and probably have to sign off on it. If they say no, take breath and wait. Give it a couple months, then calmly present your case again. Patience is key here. If it’s true love, it will last. Whatever you do, don’t get inked at a parlour that’s willing to do it illegally. High sketch factor.

People will make random compliments…and other comments. Your family aren’t the only ones. Again, unless you choose a location few have the privilege of viewing, most folks are going to notice. Be prepared for that. For reasons unknown, people will share their opinion of your new ink out loud, often in crowded public places. Sometimes it’s a nice compliment, and those are always appreciated. But sometimes it’s a little judgmental. You just ignore those people and move on. Haters gonna hate, so you do you.

The bottom line is, this is your body and your life. If you are 100% certain Dwight Schrute’s face on your calf will fill you with joy and not regret, then go for it!

*There are exceptions to every generality. I once worked with a girl who got a spur-of-the-moment piece done and loves it to this day. But I know far more people who consider their own, similar actions a mistake. “To thine own self be true,” kids.

Cat Curtis Murphy is a 20-something Ravenclaw, Taurus and plant mom with an Instagram habit and an affinity for dark lipstick. She’s also a freelance photographer and digital content coordinator from Nashville, Tennessee.

(Image via Twitter)

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