Should You Get a Tattoo In Your Forties?

Why would anyone get a tattoo in their 40’s?

The first reason that jumps to mind is that they aren’t dead yet. I’ve written about how I feel about age-appropriate behaviors before, so let me reiterate my point. I believe if you are bold enough, at any age, to dress up like a smurf and run between houses for candy on Halloween, I’m going to throw some Hershey’s kisses at you. There is “can’t” do something in the sense that I “can’t” walk a tightrope because I never learned how. That is distinctly different from whether I should or shouldn’t. I don’t want a life full of “shouldn’t”, nor do I want one for my kids.

This is not to say I’m going to run out and get inked either, but it’s not because I believe I shouldn’t. I’ve always been a wuss about getting a tattoo, even when I was arguably at an age where I might have gotten one readily. When I was at the impressionable age of my youth, getting a tattoo hadn’t gained traction. I was ironing pinpoint cotton shirts in high school and wearing them with skirts. Those high collared shirts would have looked hilarious with a lotus flower tattoo emblazoned on my neck. Although God knows what I would have chosen. With my luck, I would have gotten something as innocuous as an eject symbol and then it would become associated with a militant environmental group of dolphin killers. Shut up. It could totally happen.

tattooI wasn’t afraid of the pain. I just could never figure out what symbol would stand the test of time and still look okay on my sagging ass or dimpled thighs later in life. I used to joke that maybe I could handle a tattoo of an acutal-size cheerio in an inconspicuous spot that I could cover with a band-aid if the need arose, but that seemed more asinine than getting a tattoo in the first place. Here, let me lift this barbie bandaid to show you my cheerio tattoo…


I sort of got my dream tats when the hospital techs inked seven tattoo pimples on my chest in conjunction with radiation therapy when I had breast cancer. I’m tatted, bitches! But this doesn’t count, of course.

Yet when friends ask me if THEY should get a tattoo, my answer is always a resounding YES! So it was with my friend, Letetia. She’s not a punk band groupie, or a carnie. She isn’t part of a prison gang or a sailor, to my knowledge. She drinks coffee but she’s not a barista or even a vegan. She has an outrageous southern accent and doesn’t even curse that much. (Perhaps her only flaw). She’s employed full-time as a science writer and shuttles two of her three children to soccer. She’s married and lives in a nice house. If she’s addicted to anything, it’s to changing her hair color. I’m smitten by the incongruity of this addiction juxtaposed with her life as an unapologetic soccer mom. Over the course of our five year friendship I have seen her hair black, platinum, red, pink, purple, and blue. As an accent to all of these colors at any given time, she has also had splashes of those contrasting colors. I absolutely love this about her.


I’m always amazed at how quickly the color washes out. It makes me pause and think, “Wow. It’s only hair. Why not color it?” Tattoos are obviously permanent, but the point is, live and let live. I’d rather be run over by a bus with my hair blue than die in my sleep in my eighties not having taken chances.

tattooAnd how bleepin’ cool is this dragon fly tattoo Letetia got this week anyway? So what if a suicidal cult adopts the dragon fly as it’s vehicle to get to the Hereafter in a few years. Maybe she can be their leader, as it was prophesied.


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  1. Karen Rabinowitz

    Love this piece! I am 45 years old and in the past year my hair has been purple and blue. I loved it and I will continue to get some real “colors” in the future. Also, I got my first tattoo in March of this year! I’ve wanted one since I was a teenager but I had the same concerns as you as well as trying to be financially responsible…with 3 kids there isn’t much in the way of “disposable income” (read that as NO disposable income). Finally I got tired and financial responsibility be damned I had custom artwork done! I have an idea for a second but I’m back to saving my pennies. 🙂

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