How Do You Feel About Tattoos?

How Do You Feel About Tattoos?

Do you like tattoos? Would you like to get one someday? What design would you get? And how do you think the people in your life — your parents, your friends — would feel about it?

But what if the tattoo you got would fade away in about a year? Would that change your mind about getting one? Why or why not?

In “Why Do You Tattoo?,” Alyson Krueger writes about Ephemeral, a company that makes a kind of tattoo ink that fades from skin in nine to 15 months:

Unlike other temporary tattoos, such as henna dye or stickers, Ephemeral tattoos, like their permanent counterparts, are applied with needles and ink under the skin.

But some think the idea of a disappearing body art completely defeats the purpose.

Joanna Acevedo, 24, who works in an ice cream shop in Prospect Heights, has more than 100 tattoos all over her body: “The only thing I don’t have tattooed is my chest.” Many of her designs are random, she said, listing “a crocodile, a cat skull, a barbed wire, the words ‘steak fry,’ an eagle, a cactus and an ice cream cone.”

“I like the fact that they are permanent because they are part of me,” she said. “They represent a moment in time, and I like living with all my history.” She equates tattoos she doesn’t like to scars, another remnant, she said, from bad choices you made when you were younger.

The article continues:

Despite the bravado required to commit to a permanent tattoo, regrets are as old as tattoos themselves.

Sometimes the fix involves a lot of effort, as with laser tattoo removal. “A laser light breaks up the tattoo particles and fragments them,” said Dr. Roy Geronemus, director of the Laser and Skin Surgery Center of New York.

“It can take anywhere from two sessions to more than 10 sessions depending on the size of the tattoo,” he said. “I did a woman this morning with a few areas on her finger that took me three to four seconds, and yesterday I did someone with a whole sleeve that took half an hour.” Dr. Geronemus said his patients don’t experience any pain with the local anesthetic.

“I do see a number of patients who have made decisions spontaneously without giving a lot of thought to the longstanding nature of what they’ve done,” he said. “A name that is no longer part of your life doesn’t belong on your body. In most cases the next partner doesn’t necessarily like the idea of the ex-partner’s name staring them in the face.”

Students, read the entire article, then tell us:

  • Now that you’ve read the piece, what do you think? Does the idea of disappearing body art “defeat the purpose” — or decrease the value of the art form — as some of the people interviewed for this article believe? Or, do you think this new technique is a good idea?

  • Do you want a tattoo or tattoos? If so, what would you get, and why? How much of a role does the knowledge that tattoos are permanent play into your choice? Would you choose differently if you were to get a tattoo that would fade in about a year? How so?

  • What memorable tattoos have you seen? Do you know the stories behind them?

  • Do you think tattoos are, or can be, art? Why or why not?

Want more writing prompts? You can find all of our questions in our Student Opinion column. Teachers, check out this guide to learn how you can incorporate them into your classroom.

Students 13 and older in the United States and Britain, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.