Body Art at Any Age: Baby-Boomer Couple Debunks the Idea That Tattoos Are Only for a Younger Crowd
Nowadays, tattoos are pretty commonplace – in fact, it’s actually more of a rarity to find someone who doesn’t have a tattoo, than someone who does. Especially when it comes to younger generations.
But does the same hold true for Baby Boomers and older generations?
Unfortunately, many older individuals, even those who are interested in exploring this expressive art form, tend to refrain from getting inked for fear that their skin simply won’t display the body art as well as it should.
But Guinness World Record holders for most tattooed seniors, Charlotte Guttenberg, 67, and her partner, Charles Helmke, 75, are showing their fellow Boomers that tattoos are an art form for people of all ages.
A Beautiful Body of Work
While it’s true that tattooing on older skin requires a lighter touch to avoid “blowouts” (when the ink is pushed into the deeper layers of the skin, causing a smudged look), the idea that tattoos will appear deformed or unattractive on wrinkled or older skin is more of a personal opinion than a fact.
And it’s an opinion that Helmke doesn’t agree with, “That BS is just unbelievable,” Helmke says of being too old for a tattoo. “You can’t see the wrinkles with all the tattoos.”
Creative self-expression and a solution for wrinkles – genius!
While Helmke has been getting tattooed since he was a young man, Guttenberg only just got her first tattoo less than twenty years ago, after her first husband died.
And surprisingly, what led her to embark on the journey of tattooing her entire body actually began with Guttenberg’s disappointment in that first tattoo she received – a small butterfly.
The tattoo was done poorly by an inexperienced tattoo artist, leading Guttenberg to seek out a more qualified artist to cover it up.
Inspired by a painting of a full tattoo bodysuit on the wall at her new tattoo artist’s shop, Guttenberg slowly started adding to the beautiful swallowtail artwork she had done to cover-up her once unexceptional butterfly.
Eventually, all those small additions began to add up until her entire body, outside of her face, was filled with colorful and carefully inked artwork.
Making Tattoo History Together
However, before reaching full bodysuit status, Guttenberg was lucky enough to cross paths with someone that she would end up enjoying this record-breaking experience with.
While she was getting a particularly painful tattoo in 2006, Helmke happened to be visiting the tattoo shop and was asked to distract Guttenberg from the painful tattoo that she was receiving – to which he happily and successfully did.
Soon after, the two began dating and sharing every future tattoo experience together – painful or not!
“We were taking turns getting tattooed, and pretty soon we [each] had a bodysuit,” says Helmke.
While some might assume the pair embarked on this body art journey for the sole purpose of setting a world record, they both maintain that their physical transformations have been purely for their own enjoyment.
“[It’s] a perfect analogy because this is our artwork, and we choose to wear it. I have this artwork because I enjoy it,” explains Guttenberg.
And while the public reaction to the colorfully decorated pair has been mostly positive, they do receive the occasional ogling stranger or disapproving comment – but they don’t seem too bothered by it.
In fact, Guttenberg’s response is the perfect reminder that with age comes a strong and freeing sense of self-confidence, “I really am of the opinion that it’s none of my business what other people think, and it is not my responsibility to change your way of thinking.”
Helmke adds, “It’s a personal decision someone makes. You may not have any tattoos. Well, that’s okay, too.”
I think we can all agree, whatever your thoughts on tattoos or body art on older individuals may be, that Guttenberg and Helmke are an inspiring pair of beautiful, free-spirits – inside and out.
Do you have any tattoos? What are your thoughts on people our age getting tattoos? How do you feel about Guttenberg and Helmke’s bodysuits? Share your opinion and join the conversation below!