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The truth about tattoos

By Faeza
24 June 2016

Image: pinterest Image: pinterest

It seems as if tattoos are a big craze these days; celebs all over the world are doing it. Plus, your best friend’s brother has about eight of them already, and your older sister has one on her ankle. But before you decide to get one, you should ask yourself these questions: What are the dangers? How old should I be? Is it safe?

Here is all you need to know about tattoos:


You may not know this, but the word ‘tattoo’ comes from the Tahitian word Tatu, which means to mark something. It’s believed that the art of tattooing started in 12 000BC in Egypt and spread quickly to the rest of the world. Back then, tattoos were used as a means of communication. Women with certain skills had a specific tattoo to show off what they could do, and different tribes had their own kind of tattoo. Today, tattoos have changed.


Teens want to do whatever their friends are doing, and whatever they see on TV and in magazines. So when they see international singer Chris Brown dancing around with his many tattoos, they want to be as cool as he is. But remember, you have to be over 18 years old to get a tattoo. If you’re younger, your parents need to give you permission or accompany you. Yes, we are aware that your friends have ‘contacts’ to get you hooked up with the latest designs and styles, but be careful and read the warnings below.


It’s so easy for teens to get tattoos these days. Most tattoo parlours don’t ask for an ID book, and your friends also provide the service at home with home tattoo kits. That’s the scary part. You need to remember that tattoo artists are just that: artists. They’ve had years of experience and are proper artists who can assure you of the best possible detail in your tattoo. Your friends have no clue what they’re doing and are going to damage your skin and possibly hurt you if you decide to use the home tattoo kit. Getting a tattoo is a big decision and should not be something you rush into without giving it proper thought. Don't do something you will regret later.


People get tattoos for many different reasons. Some people get certain scripts or designs because it has meaning for them, and they want to express themselves through this art form. Other people just do it for fun, to be noticed and to fit in. The rest have no idea why they do it. It's believed that tattoos are addictive and once you start, you will want to continue tattooing yourself. And those who have tattoos agree that this is true. This is why teenagers


Teens should not get a tattoo done until they are old enough to make an informed decision about it.


Tattoos can be dangerous if they are done by a person who is not trained to do them. So many things can go wrong in the process of getting a tattoo.

Here are some warnings to heed:

¦ Tattoos bring the risk of HIV and tuberculosis if unsterilised needles and incorrect equipment are used.

¦ Getting your tattoo done by someone unprofessional is risky because they could make a mess of it and you will have to live with it for the rest of your life.

¦ Not having proper instructions for the care of your tattoo can mean that it turns septic (infected with bacteria) and leads to other medical problems.

¦ If you get a tattoo without thinking it through, you’ll regret it later and you’ll have to deal with it being there forever. Laser treatment can remove tattoos, but this is a painful and expensive procedure.


Thandisa, a teenage girl from Johannesburg, was bullied by her friends when she refused to get a tattoo to fit into their group.

“When I was 15, a group of friends wanted to get matching tattoos of what we called ourselves: The Roses.

I didn’t want to get the tattoo because I was worried I’d regret it later. Also, the tattoo artist was the brother of one of the girls and was inexperienced.

I couldn’t take that chance, so I refused,” she says. “The girls asked me to leave the group and then made my school life miserable by bullying me.

One of the girls who had the tattoo done landed up in hospital as she had a bad reaction to the tattoo. I’m glad I didn’t get the tattoo.”


Some of Mzansi celebrities who have tattoos include Shona Ferguson, DJ Fresh, AKA, Da L.E.S, Anga Makubalo, Somizi Mhlongo, Nomuzi Mabena, Kelly Khumalo, Sami Sosa, DJ Warras and many others.


¦ Lil Wayne has almost 50 tattoos.

¦ Rihanna has 14 tattoos.

¦ Chris Brown has about 10 tattoos.

A CHANGE OF HEART International stars who have removed their tattoos because they regretted having them:

¦ Pharrell Williams.

¦ 50 Cent.