We tend to think of tattooing as a young person's domain. The standard association with body art conjures up images of young adults acting out questionably-considered acts of rebellion, or bucking against the established status quo of the generations that came before.
However, in reality, when it comes to getting inked, the older generations are more than holding their own. Whether more seniors are getting tattooed now than ever before, or it was always happening and we simply didn't notice, older adults continue to take a turn in the tattoo chair to help dispel any stereotypes we may harbor about when one is too old for body art.
No expiration date on tattooing
Much like how tattoos themselves are permanent, there seems to be no upper limit on when one is able – or willing – to tattoo himself or herself. One example comes from the headlines of DNAInfo. The source told the story of Iowa-born Chicagoan Helen Lambin, who joined the world of body art at a relatively old age, receiving her first tattoo at 75. Now, six years and over 50 tattoos later, Lambin has become an icon of old-age inking.
Of course, Lambin is far from the only older adult who has a positive relationship with the tattoo needle. In fact, a recent album posted on image-sharing site Imgur highlighted over a dozen seniors who were all extensively tattooed. While some have sported their tattoos since the days of their youth, others have only more recently begun their foray into the world of body art.
Does old age cause a wrinkle in tattoo plans?
The prospect of a senior taking a turn getting tattooed may seem strange to many, for a variety of reasons. Some wonder how older adults' skin – which typically suffers from being thinner, looser and more wrinkled than that of younger individuals – is capable of being effectively tattooed. Others simply can't get past the strange social paradox of an elderly adult covered with tattoos. But the fact is that social and dermatological objections aside, seniors actually find little in the way of barriers when it's time to get tattooed.
In fact, according to The Washington Post, seniors represent a significantly growing demographic in terms of those receiving tattoos – some 15 percent of baby boomers are reported to sport tattoos, while 6 percent of those hailing from the even earlier silent generation are reportedly inked. While there are health and safety concerns to take into account, artists are still more than able to tattoo a senior. The source noted that thinner, less elastic skin requires artists to set needles to a shallower depth so the skin doesn't get as damaged. Work must be done more slowly, but this is more than possible.
Finding motivation later in life
As it turns out, it isn't just a shorter shelf-life on potential tattoo regret that's motivating these individuals to get tattoos. Many are motivated by a specific life event – the death of a partner or loved one, retirement or any number of other significant events that they want to memorialize. In the case of Lambin, she indicated to DNAInfo that it was something she's considered for literally decades, ever since her adult daughter got a tattoo of her own. For Lambin, as with many other seniors, she simply got to a point in life where she didn't see a reason to not get tattooed. Seniors reportedly often get to a point where they're not fettered by any potential social or professional restrictions, and decide to celebrate their established position in life by embracing body art.
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