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Talking to your teens about tattoos

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If you’re raising a teenager, maybe you’ve already had “the talk” with them. It got awkward, not just for them, but for you too. All you wanted to do was chat with them in a relatable way to help them make better, more informed life choices. You weren’t sure what they knew about it, what they’ve seen or read on social media, or if their friends were already doing it.

No, we’re not talking about the birds and the bees. We’re talking about the inks and the tatts.


There’s no escaping it now. All the musicians, influencers, and artists your teen follows on Instagram are collecting ink by the barrel. But it’s not just bikers and rock stars who are inked up anymore, it’s your teen’s english teacher, or maybe their dance instructor. As tattoos become more mainstream, naturally the exposure to them increases as well. Realizing that the breaks have officially been removed from tattoo train, the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) has released a report of some key stats, health risks, and recommendations. For example, Harris Poll data from 2016 states that neatly a third of adults in the US have at least one tattoo. If anything this just shows us that it’s time to be more open to talking with your teen about tattoos.

 

We want to help provide you with some insight on where your kid’s head is at. The good news is that your teen will most likely bring up the conversation on their own, if they haven’t already. We know this because we asked a bunch of them…


“I told my parents that I want to have a real tattoo last year when I was 13 and they said, if you can take the pain and don’t put any silly stuff like some boy’s name on your body then it could be okay.” Jane, 14


“I told my parents when I was 15. They pretty much said hell no. So I’m going to get one after I move out.” Sam, 17


“I kind of want to prepare them in a way but also to see their reaction to my idea. I think they would be disappointed if I didn't tell them or surprise them one day with a tattoo on my body.” Zoey, 15


The direction that the conversation takes from there is entirely up to you. When you’re 14 or 15, 18 seems like a lifetime away. Here are a of couple things your teen is doing in the meantime to get their tattoo fix.

  • Making inspiration boards on Pinterest / following tattoo artists on Instagram
  • Drawing on themselves with a Sharpie, maybe copying their favourite celebrity ink
  • Watching educational (or not so educational) videos on YouTube

While these things are all relatively harmless, there’s a lot of different information out there. As a parent you want to at least attempt to be the guiding light, and provide a safe space for any questions your teen might have. If they know you’ll never even hear the word “tattoo” under your roof, you risk having a rebellious revolt behind your back. If that’s the case let’s just hope they don’t have a friend give them a DIY tat with a sewing needle.

 

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Having “the talk”


The first thing that happens when you're talking to your teen about getting a tattoo, is to try and understand where they’re coming from. How long have they been thinking about it? Is this just because their favourite celebrity is inked? Is it a peer pressure situation? Do they feel it’s a form of self-expression? Do they need some type of reminder or positive affirmation? Once you understand their motive or train of thought that led them to wanting a tattoo, you’ll be able to better relate to them and understand where their head’s at. If you can, provide an anecdote about doing something you regret that you wish you had thought more about. Your story doesn’t have to be about a tattoo, but if you have a friend or coworker with some regrettable ink you could use their story to shed some light.


From here, you’ll want to be supportive but also give them some insight. Make it a point to express that while they may love their idea now, our tastes and preferences are always changing. Have you had the same style or sense of fashion your whole life? Doubt it.  Some people are lucky, and still love their tattoo they got when they were seventeen. However, a lot of people end up regretting their decision. “If I hate it later I can just get it removed,” your teen might say. Sure, but they might not be aware of how difficult and expensive tattoo removals actually are, and that they can hurt more than getting the tattoo itself.


To ensure they don’t go behind your back to some tattoo shop that accepts Fake ID’s, try to let them know about the health concerns associated with the ink. For example, depending what ingredients are used in the dye, the FDA says that some dyes contain traces of metals, including chromium, cobalt, iron and mercury. If your teen doesn't do their research on reputable shops, they could be putting their health at risk.


So, why should I listen to you?


We’re inkbox. We make semi-permanent tattoos that look and feel like a real tattoo. Our tattoos last for 8-18 days, and are an alternative for those who can’t get inked due to religious reasons, skin conditions, pain tolerance, work regulations, and of course, age restrictions. A large portion of our customers are teens, who may very well get inked for good at some point in their life. Our tattoos are also increasingly used to test placement before people get the real thing.

 

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If you’ve had “the talk” with your teen, and they’re still feeling like they want a tattoo, you should consider getting them an inkbox tattoo to test-drive their idea. Depending on the placement and activity level, our designs last 8 to 18 days, so they can really try to see if they enjoy the tattoo beyond the initial excitement.

You can expect their inkbox experience to go a little something like this...

Days 1-3 is always exciting when you have a new inkbox on. You show it off to family and friends, flex those muscles in the mirror, try on a million outfits, and ride the awesome wave that comes with displaying some beautiful body art. If the tattoo is more for strength or a reminder, you’ll likely feel proud and a sense of being whole.

Days 4-5 the tattoo is no longer a topic of discussion among close friends. Everyone’s seen it, they think it’s cool, and things go back to normal. It’s more important to reflect upon how the tattoo makes you feel during these days - rather than what other people think of it.

Days 7–8 you start to form a more well rounded opinion on the tattoo.

  • Do you like the design as much as you thought?
  • If you got the real thing, would you want it in that placement? Maybe one inch lower?
  • Does it draws attention to a part of your body that you don’t like?
  • Does your day-to-day attire cover it up? Or does it put it on display?

There is also the chance that you realize…

“OMG I love tattoos even more now. This is exactly what I want forever… just two inches lower and a little to the right.”

One way or another, the experience helps anyone who is thinking of getting a tattoo, make a big life decision with confidence. So ya, talk to your kids, listen to the doctors, and maybe get some matching inkbox.

You can check out our full collection here.

 

- Deborah Oomen