Check Out Helen Lambin, An Inked-Up 81-Year-Old
Helen Lambin started getting tattoos when she was 75. Now she’s 81, and she’s just about covered. And I love her, and I want to be her friend – unfortunately, I’m pretty dedicated to a tattoo shop that’s two miles away from hers.
She looks like she’d fit in the social scene in Logan Square, the neighborhood that’s been gentrified by hipsters. Instead, she’s a longtime resident of Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood on the north side of the city. She says she loves it there because “everyone doesn’t want you to be the same.” Here are six things I love about Lambin:
The owner of the tattoo shop she patronizes, Chicago Tattoo and Piercing Co., calls her “hardcore.” (Specifically, he said she was hardcore way before she got knuckle tats.)
The last time she went to get a tattoo, she brought How to be Compassionate by the Dalai Lama as reading material.
Like a lot of younger tattooed folks, she uses tattoos to commemorate life events that are important to her – for example, she has a penguin tattoo because she lived in a convent for a while. (HA!)
She validates the therapeutic quality of tattoos, saying: “When my husband died I thought, ‘How will I go on now? Instead of going on, definitely old and pure loss, it’s made life much more interesting and positive. I’d say it’s been therapeutic.”
She loves the fact that her tattoos make her part of a community and give her an opportunity to talk to people she wouldn’t otherwise. She says it’s “sort of a band of brothers and sisters” of tattooed people.
She and her octogenarian friends are hilarious: “I said, I can only get them in places that can be shown in polite society. I think it was my friend Nancy who said, ‘Who do you know in polite society?’”
If you want to know what people look like when they’re 81 and have tattoos, all you have to do is look at Helen Lambin for your answer: They look BADASS.
Follow me on Twitter.