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Photo provided by Cate Newman

The Real Deal About Tattoos

Naturally, I am an extremely indecisive person. While the idea of a tattoo had always interested me, it took me years to decide what I wanted. Knowing that it would be on my body forever, it wasn’t a decision I made lightly. However, once I made up my mind I never looked back or regretted my choice. In the months following this first tattoo, I heard a lot of opinions (from those who knew I had a tattoo and those who did not) on my body and the effect this tattoo would have on my life. While it’s hard to face criticism for something so personal, the experience has been overwhelmingly positive. I’m here to debunk some of the rumors surrounding tattoos and shed a little light on my experience to help anyone considering a tattoo themselves.

Picking a studio and choosing an artist

When picking a studio, there are a few things you should consider. As tattoo guns are attached with needles that can spread HIV or other blood-borne infections, it is important they have proper health and safety standards.

Once you’ve picked a studio, the next choice is an artist who will ink you up. Most studios will have a gallery of each artists' work. Take a look and decide which artist is most suited to the style you prefer. Read their reviews and make sure other customers have had positive experiences. It is important to pick an artist who you feel comfortable with because yout first tattoo experience can either be amazing or awful based on your choice. 

The "big" day

On the day of your appointment, you should be well rested, and have eaten a full meal. This helps your body manage pain. Wear loose-fitting clothes that will not rub against the fresh tattoo. As a tattoo is technically an open wound, you should treat it much in the same way as a cut. Under no circumstances should you consume alcohol before your tattoo; it not only thins your blood and causes more bleeding, but many artists will refuse to proceed with the appointment.

The pain of a tattoo depends on placement. Speaking from experience because most of my tattoos were in high pain areas, it is manageable with controlled breathing and something to distract you.

How to care for your ink

Your artist should cover the tattoo in a thin sheet of plastic which can be removed a day or two after the appointment. In the month following, you should limit its exposure to water, and make sure to moisturize with a non-scented lotion once or twice a day. This helps with the itching that follows as the tattoo heals, and ensures the tattoo will heal properly without creating a bubble effect. A healed tattoo should not be noticeable to the touch.

Reacting to the haters

After the healing process, the next step is managing people’s reactions (or more accurately, how you respond to those reactions). I personally did not tell my family I was getting a tattoo and was nervous to tell them because I knew they didn’t like tattoos. I assume this came from two places: a fear that I would be less employable, and the general attitude I have found older generations have to body art.

However, telling my family about my tattoos was a positive experience, and although they admitted they would not choose this for themselves, they supported my decision. It took me a few months after each tattoo to tell my parents, although now they are aware of all three and I’ve found it a relief not to worry about concealing them.

Rarely am I upset by peoples reactions to my tattoos, although there have been a few comments that stung. I was told that my first tattoo was “the new tramp stamp” which after the initial shock was laughable to me as the tattoo in question was a statement of my feminist beliefs and the comment just reinforced its importance. The most important thing to remember is your tattoo is a personal choice and shouldn’t be of consequence to anyone other than yourself.

Does your tattoo impact your future?

While generation Z is increasingly positive about body art, there are still professions in which tattoos are considered taboo. This should be kept in mind while choosing placement. Despite this appearing to be the general sentiment, a Stapaw survey done in 2012 indicated that while 76 per cent of employees felt a tattoo would affect their interview chances, 73 per cent of people would hire regardless of tattoos. Further, the popularity of tattoos had grown by 13 per cent since 2007. These numbers indicate societal beliefs around tattoos and other forms of body art are changing and evolving.


All three of my tattoos have changed my life and remain positive influences on me. While two of my tattoos remind me of my values, my favorite and most recent tattoo was a spur of the moment decision. I regret nothing about my tattoos. On bad days they remind me of what I love about myself and what I have been through in my life. Above all of that, I love them and think they look amazing. I would absolutely encourage anyone seriously considering a tattoo to take the leap.


Cate Newman

Carleton '22

I'm a journalism student at Carleton University, who loves writing, advocating for causes I'm passionate about and having a good time with my friends.
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