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Temporary Tattoos Tempt the Timid

Thinking about getting a tattoo? Try a temporary one first.

The first thing my husband said when he saw it was, “Get rid of it!” One of my friends, aghast, asked, “What is that?!”

If you want to elicit a strong reaction from someone, get a tattoo.

Tattoos seem to be one of those things that people love or hate, and I’ll admit that I don’t like them. With tattoos, the decisions you make are permanent. You can’t change your mind unless you want to undergo the lengthy and painful process of tattoo removal.

If I’d been inclined to get a tattoo when I was 19-years-old, I would now be accessorizing every outfit I wear with a colorful portrait of Garfield the cat. I’d probably also have lovely black-and-white versions of the comedy and tragedy symbols somewhere on my body.

On second thought, that comedy/tragedy tattoo would be quite appropriate on my thighs -- then and now, but that’s beside the point.

You either are or you aren’t a tattoo person.

My friend Emily has four tattoos in various locations on her body and is planning to get her fifth. My nephew has two on his arm. Even my grandmother, who was born in the late 1800s, had a tattoo of her initials on her upper arm. She let my grandfather give it to her when she was very young, and she spent the rest of her years regretting that decision.

What is so appealing about tattoos that people feel compelled to get them?

Emily wanted a tattoo since she was a teenager, though she waited until she turned 20 to get her first one. “I thought they were cool and probably a bit rebellious in the beginning,” she said. “I like the symbolism they can have.”

The significance of a tattoo seems to be the key for everyone. My grandfather had one on his forearm of a Romanian flag with the year he immigrated to this country. My nephew sports a tattoo of a train on his arm in honor of one of his grandfathers. Emily, a native of West Virginia, has one with the words “almost heaven” and the initials WV.

I think a Hershey kiss would be an appropriate tattoo for me, symbolizing my love of chocolate. It’s fortunate that I’m just not a tattoo person as this would rank right up there with Garfield on the silliness meter. I have wondered, however, about what it’s like to wear your heart on your sleeve, so to speak.

I was curious enough to order a pack of Temptu Collector’s Edition temporary tattoos from Sephora. Though there’s nothing risqué about them, these are definitely not your children’s temporary tattoos. The package comes with eight tattoo sheets including 34 individual tattoos that can last as long as five days. Beyonce inspired the collection, which Deréonby Tina Knowles created. The designs feature Deréon fleur icons, rocker bolts and chains and jewel baubles, all in a monochromatic black color scheme.

I chose to apply a chain design to my wrist with a jeweled bauble hanging down onto the back of my hand. Applying them was easy enough. You just use the application pad supplied in the package to wipe the area where you want the tattoo, press the tattoo to your skin and wipe the pad over the back of the tattoo until it is completely wet. When you peel off the paper your tattoo is ready to rock and roll.

I thought my jewelry-inspired tat looked kind of cool. I could almost feel a whole new, edgier me emerging from my relatively conservative self. I was ready to take a walk on the wild side, hop on a motorcycle and wave my wrist around for the world to see. Instead, I showed it to my husband and a few friends who alternately laughed and scoffed at it.

In the end, I found that a zebra can’t change its stripes. My experiment with body art lasted less than 24 hours.

I’m just not a tattoo person.

Paul Berge August 30, 2011 at 01:14 PM
Your experiment with body art doesn't even come close to capturing the real meaning of tattoos. Getting a temporary tattoo that you think looks cool and knowing that you can easily wash off is a far cry from the process of getting an actual tattoo. You also chose a purely ornamental design, a piece of jewelry inked onto your skin with no meaning behind it. I can't deny that there are many bad tattoos out there and many people who regret their tattoo choices. But let's not forget about all the people who proudly wear their tattoos and never regret the decision. Getting my tattoo has been a 100% positive experience for me and I never considered myself a "tattoo person". Neither did any of my family or friends. That was until I came home with a huge tattoo just before my 31st birthday. Rather than laughing and making fun, my family and friends were fully supportive of me. If I had come home with barbed wire around my biceps, I would have expected to be laughed at. But they all recognized that this was a serious tattoo with very deep meaning behind it. Remember the feeling of the whole new you that you had for the first few minutes after applying your tattoo? I haven't joined a biker gang yet, but I still have that feeling of a new me nearly a full year after getting inked because my tattoo marks an important transition in my life, it's not simply a decoration that I think looks "kind of cool".
Leslie Uriss Spehar August 30, 2011 at 02:41 PM
That's great, Paul. Sounds like you love your tattoo and that's really all that matters. My nephew loves each of his and plans to get more. My grandfather loved his, also. Their tattoos are/were deeply personal to each of them. I totally agree that a temporary tattoo is a far cry from the real thing. I never seriously considered getting a real tattoo; but for those who are, a temporary tattoo is perhaps just a way to experiment or test the waters. They certainly lack the significance and meaning of the real thing.
Emily August 30, 2011 at 08:42 PM
I think you make a very good point, tattoos aren't for the faint of heart and honestly if your back-up plan the entire time is to get it removed I think some more thinking is in order. Temporary is a great was to go to see if you want to take the leap, don't forget there are needles involved in the real thing. Good for you for trying something not typically in your nature, you are more adventurous than some and smarter than most by deciding to go this route than the surgery removal one. Maybe some younger or unsure about a tattoo readers will be encouraged to try the temporary first......who knows wild or conservative sides may be released everywhere. Thanks for putting some options and observations out there.
Peggy McFarland Williamson Young August 31, 2011 at 11:52 AM
Consider location... I have 2 one on each hip but can only be seen while in a bathing suit A lot of employers, esp in professional areas are not big fans of extreme piercings and tats. I am considering another one. a sm pink ribbon as I am a recent breast cancer survivor. haven't decided on location. Just toying with the idea. Still concerned about infection... & Yes it does involve needles and also the cost involved can be pricey.. Peggy

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