Tattoo much too young?
Zayn may be getting rid of Gigi’s eyes, but tattoo expert Alice Snape explains why they should never be a source of regret
‘ You’ll regret that one day…’ It’s a comment that never fails to get wheeled out at some point by a misinformed stranger. People, I think, scared of the permanence, placing their own values on to me. I don’t know what it is, tattoos just seem to invite comments. It’s not like I walk around telling people I don’t like their haircut or their fake breasts.
And with all the advances in the tattoo world, tattoos are only as permanent as we choose them to be. They can be removed with a laser, or ‘ blasted over’ with another design inked over the top – probably the route Zayn Malik will choose now he’s split from Gigi Hadid. Those tattooed eyes on his chest are calling out for sunglasses. He did something similar with a tattoo of his other ex, Perrie Edwards. But the point is that covering a tattoo doesn’t mean it was a regretful decision: it marked a moment, then it got covered over. No shame in that.
I know a guy who just adds to a list of girlfriends’ names he has on his arm, not regretting a single one (although that’s not a good course of action for everyone). Because that’s the thing – and the beauty of tattoos – they’re not for everyone. And that first ever tattoo is probably the one you will consider and overthink the most. I didn’t get my first until I was 21, and I really thought about what I wanted. Last week, broadcaster Martha Kearney got her first tattoo at 60. Having worked with bees for more than 15 years, that informed her choice. And how could you regret that? Getting one of your passions marked on your body, it becomes part of you.
And Martha’s in great company. Judi Dench had her first inking at 81, and I bought my own mum a tattoo for her 60th birthday – she proudly wears an art deco lady on her collarbone, whipping it out whenever the subject comes up. It eradicates any doubt and brilliantly answers that age- old annoying question, ‘ What will you do when you’re older?’ Well, look really badass, actually. There’s been enough of those memes floating around online showing kick-ass heavily tattooed 80-year- olds to prove that a tattoo ageing isn’t going to put anyone off. Skin wrinkles anyway, regardless of what is inked on to it.
For me, tattoos will never be a source of regret. You regret what you don’t do more, right? Since I started getting tattooed, I have become much more confident. Where I once saw imperfections, I now see beautiful designs that tell a story of my life journey. Yep, a couple of them may have been covered over with other designs along the way, but that’s the beauty of them, I collect them as I collect art on my walls. I applaud people like Brooklyn Beckham, who’s stacked up several tattoos in less than a year. Get the tattoos you like when you want them, why not? They might seem permanent, but they can be edited, and are only as permanent as your body – and life, as they say, is short. ‘ Tattoo Street Style’ by Alice Snape is out on Thursday (£20, Ebury Press)
Right: Zayn Malik and Brooklyn Beckham are big ink fans. Left: a tattoo enthusiast from Alice’s book
Dame Judi Dench shows off her ‘carpe diem’ tattoo