It’s time to admit it: I regret my tattoos

My wrist looks like an anti-smoking ad

It was the eve of my 21st birthday and, in fear of my impending age, I woke up and decided that I needed a new tattoo. 

My sister had come to stay and together we decided that I was ready to mark my skin forever. As a Fine Art student, I knew I could trust her opinion and that I’d end up with a sick tat.

So did I want the infinity sign, or was I after a feather? No, they were both too generic so I opted for something much edgier: a shitty pair of lungs.

Why? God knows.



I came up with the idea randomly, in the same fleeting way you’d choose what you wanted for dinner, and only after did I decide what it represented. I thought long and hard before I picked its meaning.

It meant that whenever you go through a hard time, you just have to breathe in and out and it’ll all be okay. I also said it meant that I went to the gym a lot so breathed lots as I exercised – I was struggling for reasons.

What it looks like really, is that I’ve overcome lung cancer and am emotionally remembering my plight, or suggesting I’ve got cystic fibrosis  – neither of which are true.

They are literally disgusting

They are literally disgusting

I called up local tattoo parlours and luckily one found with a cancellation, but I had to be quick – the receptionist said it’d get filled within the next hour if I didn’t come soon. I pulled on my shoes, grabbed my sister and we headed into town – this was all falling into place and it felt like fate.

On the way, though, I started getting doubts. My sister assured me that it was just nerves, even though at this point I was still scrolling through Google trying to find a suitable pair of lungs – most were either too cartoon-y or were anatomical diagrams. Eventually I did eeny-meeny-miny-moe and picked a pair.

I arrived at the parlour and with my chosen design and the tattoo artist got them drawn up and called me in – he asked me why I wanted the tattoo and I repeated, rather embarrassedly, the reasons above. He didn’t respond to it.

Fast-forward twenty minutes and £40 later, I had a rubbish-looking tattoo which was wonky on my wrist. As my sister kindly pointed out a couple of days later, there’s a bald patch he’s missed entirely.

I was busy sending Whatsapp messages to pretty much everyone in my contacts showing them my new ink, riding the high from the adrenaline – look how cool I was! Look how edgy! I even put the picture on Instagram expecting to get at least 50 likes, but I only made 25.

Bit harsh on the likes guys

I got home and my best friend told me it was the most disgusting tattoo she’d ever seen and that it resembled a smoker’s lungs on a cigarette packet. I opened my mouth to respond, before closing it as it dawned on me: she was right. I’d got the back of cigarette packet tattooed on my writing hand when I don’t even smoke – this was humiliating.

It wasn’t the tattoo artist’s fault at all and I take full responsibility for the rubbish quality of the tattoo, which I chose. He was just doing his job and if I’d have wanted him to fill in the tattoo a bit more, I should have said.

Every time I look at it I remember the stupidity of randomly getting a body organ tattooed on my WEDDING HAND and hate myself a little bit more. It feels like one of those bizarre dreams where you wake up in a cold sweat at 5am and realise that no, you definitely didn’t do that spontaneously stupid thing.

Except, I did – and I regret it. Everyone asks me whether I’m going to get a pancreas tattooed on my knee next, or a liver on my arm.

My wonky lungs just poking round the side of my wrist

My wonky lungs just poking round the side of my wrist

Add that to my other tattoo, a line from Wuthering Heights, and I just look the picture of tragic white girl who wanted to be Effy from Skins. My Wuthering Heights tattoo I actually do like, even though I got it when I was angsty at 18, but it just doesn’t really apply to me now.

It says: “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” I’ve recently come out as gay, so the “his” part isn’t applicable anymore. I know it’s about Heathcliff, not me, and isn’t what Emily Bronte intended, but together with my lungs I feel like a joke of tattooed person.



My parents always ask me: “How are your lungs Alice? Are they still there?”

One day when I can afford it, I’ll get them lasered off, but for now, unfortunately, they are still there. I’ve even looked at applying to Tattoo Fixers to see if they can do something about it, but their next season is being filmed abroad.

Make good choices. And if anyone wants to laser them off for free, please do get in touch.