“The idea came about from talking about Valentine’s Day specifically and tattoos for romantic purposes,” Taylor said. “We know from performing laser procedures here for tattoo removal how much they can hold people back and prevent them from moving forward with their life.”
The public was then able to vote on which story they sympathized with the most.
A total of nine people entered the contest. One submitted a wedding ring tattoo that was inked on a 20th anniversary, which the person tried to cover up after a divorce that occurred before they could celebrate their 21st. Another submisson was a word that read “beautiful” one way and “disaster” when read in the opposite direction, which the person got during a time they felt they ruined everything they touched. Two submitted butterfly lower back tattoos. A dad entered a dragon he got when he was 15 that now scares his daughter.
But in the end, Lilly Wooster, a Raleigh resident, was chosen as the winner with 20 votes.
“I was young and dumb, so there’s no crazy, cool story here,” Wooster said. “A lot of people around me were getting them and I just thought it was so cool. I didn’t even have a design I wanted, really. That was a sign I shouldn’t have gotten one.”
She Googled designs and eventually settled on a blue bird. When she was 22, Wooster got the tattoo on the back of her neck, which the tattoo artist made a lot bigger than she wanted.
“As soon as I got it, I hated it so much,” Wooster said. “I’ve actually done some treatments, but it’s hard to get it out. I can handle the pain, but it makes me so sad when I look in the mirror or think about it.”
After she entered, she got her friends to vote on her submission. And now that she has been declared the winner at age 26, Wooster is not only looking forward to being able to wear her hair up in the summer, but also feeling more confident about herself. The insecurity she has struggled with for the last four years makes her want to caution people considering getting tattoos.
“I don’t want to say they shouldn’t get it or that they’ll regret it, but I want them to think really, really hard and ask others for their advice,” Wooster said. “Everybody is so beautiful just as they are, so they just need to think hard.”