It Turns Out I Was Wrong About Tattoos

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Remember being a teenager and feeling so resolute about what was important to you? For example, as a 14-year-old, I was absolutely certain that my feelings for Floppy-Haired Boy would never change. I also knew, without question, that I’d never ever get a tattoo.

A large part of this had to do with my Christian upbringing, where the whole “your body is a temple” message came in hot from my grandmother. I don’t know how much I believed this, but I also didn’t care too much to question it because I couldn’t imagine committing to something so permanent anyway. (I mean, aside from Floppy-Haired Boy.)

Even as friends got tattoos throughout our teens and 20s, I remained proudly uninked—and rather smug about it, too. “You’re definitely going to regret getting that,” I’d think to myself as I accompanied them to their appointments.

Then, at 30, I did what I thought I’d never do: I got inked.

I was recovering from a major surgery, and I wanted to commemorate this milestone somehow when the opportunity to get a free flash tattoo presented itself at a work event. Minutes later, I walked out with my first tattoo: a thin cross imprinted along my index finger. It was impulsive, but it also felt invigorating to claim some sense of autonomy over my body after feeling like I had none for so long.

It was then I realized how empowering tattoos could be as a form of self-expression. Like a bold new hair color or a dash of vibrant eyeliner, tattoos offer another way to reclaim my identity and make me feel like I have a say in how I show up in the world. My body may be covered in scars, and my face is aging every day, but my tattoos remind me of my resilience and of who I am through all the changes I can’t control.

I now have four tattoos in total, each of them a tiny testament to the life I’ve lived thus far, including a small red flower on my wrist in tribute to my grandmother who recently passed away. She would have hated it at first, but I think she would have warmed up to it eventually. “You are full of surprises,” she’d tell me with a gentle thwack on my back, as she often did when I was younger.

To be fair, no one is more surprised than I am about my slowly growing body of ink. At 18, I was certain I would never get a tattoo, but time has a way of proving you wrong, doesn’t it?

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Jenny Jin Headshot Vertical 2023

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...