Photo illustration by Sarah MacKinnon
Two weeks after her June 6 separation from actor Antonio Banderas was announced, Melanie Griffith walked the red carpet at the Taormina International Film Festival. She wore a cheetah-print cocktail dress, black stilettos and a very passé accessory on her arm: a dark tattoo of her soon-to-be-ex’s first name, in thick cursive lettering, visible through layers of heavy cover-up. The Daily Mail has since tracked the tattoo’s appearances and disappearances, as well as Griffith’s visit to a tattoo removal office and her alleged insistence the name be photoshopped out of magazine spreads.
Griffith is among a growing group of tattoo-regretters. As tattoos become ever more mainstream—32 per cent of Gen X and 38 per cent of Millennials have at least one—so, too, does the risk of regret. A 2014 U.K. study found four in 10 people regret their ink, and one in six full on “hate” it. The Archives of Dermatology reported in 2008 that white, single, college-educated women were twice as likely to regret their tattoos, which “no longer satisfied the need for uniqueness.” And nothing leaves a bigger stain on a person than a tribute to a former paramour. Hollywood has taught us that tattooing your lover’s name on your body is a very bad idea: Angelina Jolie, Heidi Klum, Eva Longoria and Johnny Depp all have had homages to their partners removed.
But, increasingly, there’s another kind of homage: the “divorce tattoo .” Almost monthly, Christina Christie, owner of Black Rabbit Tattoo Studio in Vancouver, sees a woman arrive post-breakup. “I hear people say, ‘I don’t care what anyone thinks about it anymore. I’ve always wanted a tattoo and I’m getting it,’ ” she says. “There’s a sense of taking your body back, and sometimes the pain itself is a relief.” Last month, #DivorceTattoo started trending on Pinterest. Among the examples: A floating blue balloon, its string a chain of words (“Sometimes you need to let things go”); […]