Tattoos and Piercings on Teen Body Image

In this day and age, body modifications are becoming much more commonplace. Once thought of as a death wish for future employment, piercings and tattoos are now starting to show up in some of the most professional industries. However, when it comes to allowing teenagers to get these modifications, many parents are still having trouble making the leap.

Photo of body piercing on a young teen girl

It's natural that at some point, most kids will be interested in getting a piercing or tattoo. For many teens, it represents freedom, self-expression and independence. For others, the desire often comes from wanting to be like their favorite celebrity. All of these reasons are understandable and should be respected, but that doesn't mean that you have to allow your teens to get pierced or tattooed if you don't feel comfortable. Before you decide, there are a few questions you should ask.

1. How Permanent is the Modification?

The amount of consideration put toward whether or not a teen should get a body modification should be directly related to how permanent the modification will be. If your teen wants her ears pierced, you can probably move forward with little concern. If she wants a bellybutton piercing, the concern is greater due to an increased risk of scarring and infection. A tattoo is obviously the most permanent choice, and both you and your teen should give the idea plenty of thought before making a decision.

2. Why Does Your Teen Desire the Modification?

There is a big difference between wanting a tattoo to look more like Miley Cyrus and wanting a tattoo to honor the passing of a loved one. If your teen wants a piercing or tattoo, have a discussion about the significance of the act. If you feel the reasons for wanting it are valid, a good plan is to wait six months to a year. If it's still desired at that point in time, you might consider allowing it. Or until they are 18-years-old.

3. Does Your Teen Understand all of the Possible Consequences?

One problem with teens is that they don't often think very far into the future. A piercing may scar, and a tattoo can only be removed with painful and expensive surgery. Even though many employers are relaxing a bit on this issue, either modification could still possibly hinder future job opportunities

It's important to discuss all of these issues with your teens and allow them to have an equal role in the decision. No one wants to deny their kids the ability to express themselves, but you want to make sure they are properly educated. This isn't an issue with a single right or wrong answer, and what you decide should be based on your unique situation. If nothing else, it's perfectly acceptable to make your kids wait until age 18 to get the modifications they dream of.

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