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The first tattoo is the deepest

OPINION

  • Tattoo artist Jeff Paetzold works on a customer last year at Insight Studios in Wicker Park.
Tattoo artist Jeff Paetzold works on a customer last year at Insight Studios… (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune…)
December 06, 2012|By Nikki Lynette, @nikkilynette | RedEye

If you or someone you love suffer from a lack of tattoos, you are not alone. According to recent statistics, about 85 percent of Americans have a tattoo deficiency, a disorder that is characterized by having no body ink.

Is it OK for people to not want tattoos? Yes. Is "tattoo deficiency" a totally fake disorder that I made up just to make a point? Also yes. However, the fact that I know so many people who want a tattoo but don't have the guts to do it makes me wonder how many people would be members of Team Tatted Up if fear weren't standing in the way.

Prior to the day I got my first body art, the idea of a sharp needle dragging across my skin kept me from getting inked. Now, with eight tattoos under my belt, I think it's safe to say I've had a change of heart. (Technically, I can get away with saying I have only five tattoos because my tramp stamp is made up of four individual tatts. So for the sake of not scaring off the conservative folks, let's just say I have five.)

It took a traumatic event for me to get over my fear of tattoos. A few years ago, I got some heartbreaking news involving my first love and my best friend at the time. In an emo fury, I drew up two symbols. Then, still in a rage, I took a 40-minute bus ride to The Chicago Tattooing and Piercing Co. on Belmont Avenue. I fumed for the entire four hours it took to etch the drawings onto my skin and left with two permanent reminders to never love blindly again. The story might seem a little sad, but now that I'm over it I think it's kinda badass.

All "five" of my tattoos are meaningful to me, and I don't regret a single one. Maybe if someone came up with fancier names for tattoos, like "stamp de la tramp," then body art wouldn't have such a bad rep.

I'm not writing this to inspire you to go out and bond with your favorite singer, secret crush or future baby-daddy by getting inked. And if your tatt isn't well thought out then you'll likely regret it, so I'm not encouraging you to be impulsive either. What I'm trying to say is, life is too short to deny yourself the things you want. If you genuinely wanna get inked but excuses are standing in your way, you aren't being very honest with yourself.

People are going to tell you that tattoos aren't classy. My response to that is I don't want to be included in any class that judges my character based upon aesthetics. People are gonna tell you that getting tatted hurts. So does dental work. Does that mean we should choose to be toothless?

Seriously, if my own mom, who is a successful and respected business professional, could overcome her fears and get her first tattoo at 50, then anybody can.

You don't have to live with a tattoo deficiency. Help is just a reputable tattoo parlor away.

RedEye special contributor Nikki Lynette, a Chicago native, is an indie recording artist whose music appears on MTV, VH1, Showtime and more.

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