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I’m going to change, why can’t my body?’: tattoo removal grows up

As tattoos become commonplace, so has the once-pointy subject of their removal. But it isn’t all exes’ names and embarrassing ink that motivates people to part with body art

tattoo’s permanence was once considered part of the package, equally a source of frisson-like appeal and finger-wagging peril. But as tattoo removal grows more commonplace, many of those associations are now in flux.

In recent years the laser removal process – which breaks up the ink into smaller fragments that can be spirited away by the body – has been embraced by many of the celebrities who helped cement body art’s 2010s pop culture ascendancy, from the Kardashians to the Osbournes. Recently, Saturday Night Live’s Pete Davidson set about scrubbing his famously inked frame – which spans the gamut from stoner gags to famous exes – in order to pursue more film roles.

Closer to home, the AFLW star Tayla Harris had a dolphin on her ankle removed in 2019, while the former Love Island contestant and influencer Vanessa Sierra vlogged about getting her sleeve zapped in January.

“I think the main thing is, people change,” says Amanda McKinnon, who founded Adelaide-based removal studio LaserTat nine years ago. “What they perhaps got when they were 18, sometimes even younger, doesn’t necessarily suit them now.”

But some of the reasons McKinnon’s clients seek treatment are far more harrowing. “I had a lady come in quite a few years ago in a situation where her partner made her tattoo something fairly offensive on her body. She was very concerned about her kids growing up and being able to read what was tattooed on her – it just didn’t sit right with me that there was nothing that she could do about it.”

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