To Ink Or Not To Ink.

by Risa Green


We all know about the male, mid-life clichés. A guy hits forty, or fifty, and suddenly, he needs to prove to the world that he’s still young. So he runs out and buys a sports car, or a motorcycle; he grows a ponytail; he finds himself a hot, young wife. But interestingly, women don’t seem to have their own mid-life cliché counterparts. I mean, yeah, I guess there’s the whole cougar thing, but I kind of feel like that’s something women do post-divorce to make themselves feel better, though not necessarily something they ditch their husbands and kids for in the first place. And of course, there’s plastic surgery and Botox, and the like. But again, I’m not sure that’s something women go racing off to do because they want to feel younger, as much as it’s something we do because we don’t want to look old. But what else is there? It can’t be that women don’t have mid-life crises. In fact, I know that women do, because I am a woman, and as I inch closer and closer to forty, I’m starting to freak out more and more (and more). I keep having this urge to do something – not to prove to anyone that I’m still young (I’m not) – but to commemorate my youth somehow; to remind myself that, even as my body gets older, I can still be young and vibrant and beautiful, even if it’s only on the inside.


A friend of mine recently came up with the perfect solution. When she turned forty, she took a girls’ trip with her friends from college, and came home with a tattoo. It wasn’t a spur of the moment thing – she’d been contemplating it for months (is it cool, or is it pathetic?), and had spent hours thinking about what she wanted it to look like (An abstract symbol? A single word?). She finally settled on a Chinese character that means wish/dream, and had it inked onto her lower back. She sent me a picture, and I have to say, it looks awesome. And now I can’t stop thinking about it.


I never wanted a tattoo as a teenager. I always thought they looked kind of slutty, and I didn’t want to be yet another girl with a butterfly on her ankle. Plus, I always worried about what I would think of it when I was old. Wouldn’t the fifty or sixty or seventy year-old me hate seeing it there, the ink looking so stark and silly against my crepe-y, sun-spotted, wrinkled skin?


But now that I’m closer to fifty than I am to twenty, I can’t help but think that I was so wrong. First of all, I would love to look slutty now. Or at least, to look like I was once slutty. And while I don’t know yet what word or symbol or picture I would get, the butterfly thing is not an issue anymore. I’m old now, which means that I’m also wise, and so I’d have the good sense to choose a tattoo that would really mean something to me. But finally, and most importantly, I no longer worry about what would old-me think of it. Hell, I think old-me will love it. I can just imagine old-me smiling as I catch a glimpse of it – the ink looking so stark against my crepe-y, sun-spotted, wrinkled skin – reminded of how young and vibrant and beautiful I was, back when I had my mid-life crisis.




Also on Mommy Tracked: Inked.


A tatoo is interesting, but permanent. I have been trying to dabble in things that keep me young at heart--and also put me in touch with my inner teenager. I just finished reading one of the Twlight books (had to see what the fuss was about)--and while a lot of it was juvenille, it did take me back to the feelings of first love and heartbreak. (BTW--I think I'm Team Edward.)I also like to turn on my favorite music from back in the day and dance with my kids, ages 4 and 2. At the end of the day, I'm happy with where I am, but it's fun to do things that make me feel young at heart.


Your post is so appropriate for what is in my head right now! I turn 40 this year and am dreaming of a tattoo! I love that you wish that you looked like you were once slutty! I was a little slutty, and I too wish I had a bit more evidence of that (my navel ring just doesn't look good anymore, and the tiny hole where it once sat is hardly visible!). Thanks for the food for thought!


It's funny I'm coming across this now. I was just telling my husband this weekend that I think I'm going through a mid-life "thing". I'm 32! I've felt as though lately that I need to "break out". I'm a mother of one beautiful, and trying 2 year old. All of my life I've been nothing but sweet, compliant, naive, passive, a pushover, and pleasing. I was inked 3 times in my 20's, and now want to do more. I think they're addictive! The last 3 years I've been a suburban wife and mom, and now, I have think itch to get another tatoo, dye my hair and go a little crazy (within reason)! If I wasn't so afraid of disappointing my parents (see compliant comment), I think I'd be covered in them!
I say go for it!


I'm 43 and also feeling like I'm in a mid-life crisis. But a tattoo holds no interest for me. Instead, I'm taking classes in all sorts of creative endeavors: jewelry making, graphic design, and sewing to name a few. Rediscovering my creativity has been a great way to renew myself.


I'm not new to 'ink.' In fact, it played a role in my mission to rebel against my parents when I was in college. (one on my 20th bday and again on my 21st)

Turning 30 six months ago, I began to realize just how much those two tats mean to me and what they symbolize about who I was and who I am now. And so I celebrated being a mother of two beautiful youth-inspiring children by getting their names artistically tattooed on my wrist for the whole world to see...and every day it reminds me of what's important, even on those days when I wish I could go back to that crazy girl all those years ago.

My opinion is that you'll never regret it and it will be just as beautiful (even if it's a little distorted) when you're 70.


I went through almost the exact same scenario as you. We also elected the public route both times (my son's now in 2nd grade and daughter is in K). What I found with son is that he did, indeed, backslide a bit in K as we waited for the other kids to catch


I am not quite 40 and just got my hair chopped. I think it's my mid-life crisis--it was impulsive and not thought out at all. It's shocking and quite a change, but it's not permanent the way a tat (tramp stamp) or a piercing is.


To ink or not to ink? My best friend from high school is more ink than not. Now, at 40, I'm glad I didn't do it at 20. But I think I can now stand by my decision to get ink. Maybe for my 45th? :-)


Love it! I've been considering the same thing. My problem now is there are many more things that have meaning to me than there were in my 20s!