There are many reasons why people choose to get a tattoo removed. For Jane, being diagnosed with cancer made her realize life’s too short to live with tattoos you don’t love.
As a television director, Jane travels the world making documentaries. Her job is to tell people’s stories, but now it’s time to hear hers.
Tell us about the tattoo you’re having removed.
It's a big lion on my back and was my first tattoo. I think I was coming into maybe a midlife crisis. I hit my 30s and just went “why have I never had a tattoo? I have wanted one since I was 15 and I have been putting it off and putting it off and putting it off.” I realized I was just not doing it because my parents really don't like tattoos.
And then I thought “you know what? I've only got one life and I really want one and I really want this lion.” I wanted it on my wrist, which is obviously a tiny little space and I wanted this really intricate, lovely little lion. But when I got there on the day, the tattoo artist said “that's way too small. I can't put it on your wrist. It's going to have to go on your thigh or on your back.”
This was not what I was prepared for, but I had it in my head that I was not leaving without a tattoo. It actually ended up being a really horrible experience, if I'm honest. I wasn't really happy with the design, and she wasn't happy doing it because she could tell I wasn't really happy.
I loved it for about five years. I really ran with it and was like “I love it. I'm going to embrace it.” I wanted to connect with it but I realized after five years that I just wanted it gone. I tried to add to it and amend it with extra bits of geometry and stuff that I love, but my style now is much more sort of delicate, fine line tattoos. It's the right thing to do to have it off, so that's what I'm doing!
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"It’s ok to change your mind. We put such emphasis on 'if you get a tattoo, it’s got to be forever'. Actually, it isn’t. I now have the choice to remove it."
Why did you decide to have it removed?
At first, I thought “it's fine. It's on my back. What does it matter?” And then I got cancer in November. I nearly died and now I'm in recovery. And it was when I realized I was going to live, that I thought I'm not going to live with something I'm not 100% happy with. Why should I?
I looked up the most pain-free option and found you guys. I knew I wanted to come here and have it done. It looked really peaceful and in line with what I was looking for.
How have you found your treatments?
I’m really happy. I love the vibe when you walk in and everyone is so lovely. And it’s so quick! You come in and it’s really professional, really efficient, you’re in the chair, and it’s done in 10 minutes. For me, it’s just so easy.
How does it feel to see it fading?
I just feel a sense of excitement and relief because immediately after the second session I was like “I prefer it already. It’s faded and I already prefer it. This was the right decision.”
It’s spurred me on to keep coming back. I know I’m going to be happy because I already am.
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The lion was your first tattoo. Do you have any others? Would you remove them?
I do have quite a few but they're all much smaller. I've got about 10. I think I’ve nailed what I really love on my body now and each tattoo means something to me. My tattoo artist and I have a bond that I really love. She understands me, so I don’t think I’ll be removing any others. But who knows? Ask me in 10 years time - I could make another mistake!
What I’ve found is I book a four-hour tattoo session and go in with all these ideas and be like “I want this and I want this” and then when I’m sitting there, I just get so into it. I’ll be like “oh can you also do this other thing here?” So I can see how I could easily make another mistake at some point.
How does it feel to have the option to remove them if that happens?
It’s life-changing, isn’t it? To have a tattoo removal process that you understand and are comfortable with. It’s a bit like the new age of marriage: marriage is forever but then again, if you really don’t love it and it’s not working for you, you can get a divorce.
It’s a freedom to express yourself in the moment and know that you might adapt in the future. And with that growth, change your mind. And that’s ok. It’s ok to change your mind. We put such emphasis on “if you get a tattoo, it’s got to be forever.” Actually, it isn’t. I now have the choice to remove it.
You mentioned your parents don’t like tattoos. What will you say to your children when they’re older if they want tattoos?
My kids have seen me get all my tattoos through the years and I’ve told them about my lion, why I’m having it removed and everything. They know that you can have one removed, but it hurts. So they understand it’s a commitment, but you can also get out of it. I just say to them “any tattoo you get, make sure you really, really love it. Wait a good couple of years thinking about it before you commit and don’t do anything before you’re 18!”
I still massively believe in the freedom to express yourself however you want, and so if my kids choose to cover themselves in tattoos because they love it then I’m 100% in support of that. I’m all about no shame. I have no shame about anything because I was always taught to have shame about my body. I just want them to grow up loving themselves and being kind to everyone. I think that’s the best you can do, right?