I'm Chinese. And bilingual. Unfortunately over the years my mindset has become too “westernized” for my Mandarin standard to keep up with my English one. So each time my Dad brings home a copy of the Chinese evening daily, I'll half-heartedly browse through it looking intently for crime-related or trashy celebrities news, which are far more exciting.
But a few days ago while lazily flipping through the reports, something caught my attention. Right before my eyes was an astonishing report on tattoos, a topic that is rarely discussed in local media, let alone making it to a tabloid circulated nationwide.
Being an admirer of tattoos and art form, I knew I had to read the entire report. And I did. Excruciatingly slow though, due to my lousy command of Mandarin. (Yeah, go ahead and laugh all you want.)
In the report, a local tattoo shop owner gave a true account of an “inspired” 10-year-old boy who walked into the shop asking to be tattooed – at 10:30 pm! My eyes popped. Why wasn't the boy at home in bed preparing for school the next day we'll never know. The reporter also interviewed two youths who got their first tattoos when they were just 15. One of them has since regretted his rash decision.
I live in Singapore where there are already too many official rules and regulations. But amazingly, not only are there no rules governing the minimum legal age for tattooing minors, there is also no proper registrar for tracking tattoo artists.
I was totally taken aback to discover this, to say the least. By comparison, things are a lot stricter in the US. Do you know that in almost every US state, it is illegal to get a tattoo anywhere other than a licensed tattoo shop? And yes, the tattoo artist must be properly licensed.
Just imagine – we've (unwittingly) beaten the Americans in democracy and freedom rights in the most unlikely way! I bet you are surprised, aren't you?
But is this the right way things should be? So what does this mean for the young and restless who are seeking to get their first tattoo?
Well, my first piece of advice would be that serious thoughts must be given on whether to even go for a tattoo. Consider this: according to the American Society of Dermatological Surgery, 50% of the millions of Americans who get a tattoo eventually want it removed. Yes, in other words, they regretted getting a tattoo.
I am sure you would rather have a tattoo you are proud of, wouldn't you?
Second, if you live in an area where there is a minimum age requirement and you happen to just meet it, you must first seek the advice of a trustworthy senior who has tattoos. You should question him clearly on what went through psychologically and emotionally as he readied himself for a tattoo. Going through this activity will help you to establish the correct frame of mind to go about selecting a suitable tattoo design for yourself.
If you are underage when it comes to getting a tattoo, chances are you will inevitably regret it soon enough.
Also, seek professional advice from a good tattoo artist for ideas of tattoo designs. Check if he is able to custom-design one for you.
For the record, the 10-year-old boy was prompted turned down by the shop owner. Phew!