Tattoos In Your Twenties: The Good, The Bad and The One You Hid From Your Parents

You know when you get a new hair cut and regret it almost immediately?

Or perhaps you love it for the first week and then realise you look more like Matt Damon than Natalie Portman? And you thank God Above that in a few months time your hair will return to it’s original place of comfort, resting on your shoulders, and you can pretend it never happened.

Well. Imagine having a pixie cut for the rest of your life. 

That’s what a bad tattoo feels like. Apparently.

But don’t take my word for it, have a scroll and read the tattoo tales of your fellow peers.

And don’t worry, I threw in a few success stories for good measure.


“I hate mine. I got my first tattoo because I wanted to know what it felt like. I picked the dreaded Japanese symbol which I thought meant “friendship” but apparently on its own means “tree”. Epic. The second tattoo is just a pattern. No meaning whatsoever. Just a pattern. These will be anonymous right?!”

“When I was twenty I had a flat red-card and all of us got tattoos while we were blind drunk. I’ll never forget waking up in the morning and wondering why my foot was covered in glad wrap. The tattoo is some awful Latin phrase and I dream of getting it removed one day. But in saying that, another flatmate got the McDonald’s logo so mine could have been a lot worse.”

“The most meaningful tattoo I have is a flower to represent my personal journey of blossoming into someone I’m proud to be. The worse tattoo I ever got was my exes initials on my finger (who wasn’t my ex at the time). I also have “not yours” on my butt!”

“I have a scorpion on my ankle which I love but if I wear pants that cover the tail it ceases to look like the badass scorpion I’d hoped for – I’ve been asked on more than one occasion why I have a lobster tattoo on my leg.”

“I have a lotus flower on my foot that everyone thinks is a marijuana leaf.”

“I begin the process of getting mine removed tomorrow. It’s a Latin phrase on the back of my neck. My nana was mad as hell when she saw it. I believe it was Kim Kardashian who said, “You wouldn’t put a bumper sticker on a Bentley.” How wise you are Kim.”

“Both of my tattoos are related to being a twin and are super meaningful to me. One is a small heart on my wrist drawn by my sister for our 21st birthdays. The second is of two girls intertwined – my twin and I.”

“I have “No Regrets” tattooed on the inside of my bicep and I regret it.”

“I had a dream one night that my mum, dad and little sister all tattooed a heart on me. A week later I asked them to each draw a small heart on a piece of paper and I went to a tattoo artist with the piece of paper and asked to have their sketches drawn onto my wrist.”

“I went to Wellington for the weekend and got a tattoo of a stick figure walking on my ankle because my last name is Walker. It looks like the Pak ‘n’ Save man.”

“I’m currently in the process of getting four tattoos lasered off and it is so painful I have no words… I can sleep through laser hair removal but tattoo removal makes me want to throw up. One of them is quite big, on my ribs, and was a spur-of-the-moment decision but two of them are matching with my best friend so I had to tell her “Ahh please don’t be offended but I’m getting these removed!”

“I was fresh into my twenties, sitting on the beach with a friend when she said “I think I want to get my nipple pierced.” Without even thinking I said, “If you get your nipple pierced, I’ll get a tattoo.” One hour and $50 later I was the proud owner of a dainty heart outline on my rib. Fortunately I chose something relatively tasteful and still love it five years later. It makes me laugh and reminds me that I was once a little more fun and spontaneous than I am now.”

“I got my first tattoo about a month ago, a tiny lotus flower on the inside of my ankle to represent growth and spiritual development. I thought about getting the tattoo for nearly a year and have no regrets. I think if we always worried about what we might think in ten-years-time then we would never do anything. “

“I have five tattoos and I got four of them done on the same day! All of them are very meaningful to me and relate to my anxiety. Apart from one which is just a super cute flower. “

“I got a tattoo when I was 19 and regretted it within 24 hours. My parents didn’t know about it and most people still have no idea. I started to get it lasered off at 27. Ten years later I have three new tattoos that are fine-lined and small (also hidden), and much closer to what I thought that original tattoo would look like. “

“My funniest tattoo is of Bill Murray – you should have seen my mum’s face when I told her. The worst tattoo is my birthdate written in Roman numerals on my ankle and apparently might be the wrong time….”

“I was only 18 when I got my first tattoo, despite my parents’ request to wait until I was 21. You can imagine how pleased they were when I came home one day with a cross on my wrist. To make matters worse I got the tattoo done by a guy in his bedroom and he did such a terrible job that I had to return (kill me) so that he could fix it.”

“My first and worst tattoo was the word “Karma” on my wrist. Which is ironic because I regret it.”

“My favourite tattoo is a tiny umbrella on my ankle. I’d spent three years designing an actual umbrella at work and decided that it had taken up so much of my life it only made sense to have it on me forever. I love it.”

“The most meaningful and beautiful is my dad’s signature with “until the end” written underneath. He read the first few Harry Potter books to my brother and we’ve shared a love for them ever since. He passed away four years ago when I was 19 and was hands down the greatest man. I know most people say that about their dad but he really was. I love looking down at my wrist and seeing a little piece of him.”

“A few years ago I was caught up in the classic mid-twenties panic where all my friends were getting married, buying houses and settling down, so I impulsively made an appointment at a tattoo studio on Ponsonby Road. The tattoo artist was that quiet-artistic-babe type so I couldn’t back out. After correcting his spelling (he almost wrote “Votes For Woman” instead of “Votes For Women” haha), he created this cool design based on a poster from the United States suffragette movement. I’m a former history student and a feminist, and have long-loved the design of suffragette posters. I love the tattoo so much and I hope that I will continue to look back at it and respect the headspace I was in at that time in my life. It makes me grateful for democracy every time I shower.”