Last year on a dirty mattress on the floor of a stranger's flat in Gloucester, a 14-year-old girl was scarred for life by an unlicensed tattooist. The result was horrible.
She wanted a tribute to her grandfather who had died several months before. The tattooist bought the kit online and despite having no experience of tattooing, made a crude attempt at a drawing on the teenager's stomach.
It was meant to depict a set of rosary beads with the letter 'J' underneath, but it looked like a Nazi cross with birthday balloons rising from it and the 'J' was so badly executed it was little more than a squiggle. The teenager had no idea whether the needles tattooist Ross Richardson used were even sterilised.
Bloomin' awful: Cheryl Cole's full rose tattoo was unveiled by her tattoo artist Nikko Hurtado on Instagram
As the Mail reported on Saturday, her mother is understandably disgusted the tattooist escaped with a 40 fine. But the most frightening aspect of this story is that it shows the extent to which vulnerable girls are prepared to go to copy their celebrity heroines.
And as long as impressionable teenagers have role models like Cheryl Cole, what hope is there for them?
Yesterday Cheryl revealed her latest 'body art'. The huge red and black roses she has had tattooed on her lower back and bottom are as big as each of her buttocks.
They trail down her thighs, with more climbing up her back, all set against what look like black serpents.
Photographs of the monstrosity, taken by her tattoo artist, were posted on Instagram.
Cheryl then took to Twitter to defend it. 'People are entitled to their own opinion. Personally I've never really concerned myself with other people's body parts!' she wrote.
She partly revealed the tattoo in February, at a Girls Aloud concert, but until now she hadn't unveiled the full horrible extent of it.
Why doesn't she try writing decent pop songs, to express herself rather than defiling her once exquisite body? Body art indeed.
Cheryl's other tattoos by some accounts she has had 19 were bad enough, but in comparison fairly discreet. This is nothing short of self-mutilation.
Her millions of Twitter followers responded mostly with astonishment and disgust in equal measure. But the result of her latest Technicolor self-harm is that everyone is talking about Cheryl Cole.
After a few career setbacks, no one has been discussing her for a while. Now she's the centre of attention which, no doubt, was her aim.
But what a way to go about it. The real tragedy here is that Cheryl, at 30, is already an international pop and TV star, and a millionairess.
So why does a girl who has everything beauty, success, celebrity, a new boyfriend resort to self-harm, even if it is in the name of 'art'?
The tattoo was done in LA by celebrity tattooist Nikko Hurtado. It cost 4,000, took 15 excruciating hours to execute and six months for the wounds to heal before she was happy to reveal it to the world.
Cheryl Cole posted a photograph of herself with Nikko Hurtado, the artist behind her back and buttocks tattoo
Perhaps the most telling thing about the posted pictures of her bottom, wearing only a pink G-string, is that her body is beheaded.
There is no sign of that exquisitely beautiful face or that megawatt smile. All we saw was her multi-coloured, mutilated rear, legless and decapitated, which says more about her sense of self than anything.
And while some say this is Cheryl's private business, when her derriere is posted on the web it is, as she intended, everyone's business.
It raises serious questions about her state of mind, especially from a young woman who has admitted to periods of clinical depression and issues with anger management.
Perhaps the secret to her self-mutilation comes in her background, the Geordie girl from the sink estate who never thought she was good enough for success or happiness.
Catapulted by her Girls Aloud fame and beauty into an unfaithful marriage with footballer Ashley Cole, she never really believed she was worth anything. And Ashley certainly reinforced that message with his affairs.
Yet one of the reasons Cheryl has had so many loyal supporters is that, like them, she has struggled. That's why her responsibility to her fans is even greater.
Lower-back-tatt: Cheryl Cole showed off her rose design at a Girls Aloud concert in February this year
She knows as well as anyone that fragile young girls struggling with their sense of self often resort to self-harming for attention.
Be it anorexia, bulimia, cutting their arms and legs, taking drugs or handing their bodies around like a tray of biscuits bizarrely, it's the only way they feel in control of their lives. Their bodies are the only things they can use and, sadly, so often abuse. Tattoos are simply self-harm by another means.
Does Cheryl not think she will ever get old? Why do young people today refuse to consider the consequences of their actions? Because bottoms, like pop careers, sag with age.
By the time Cheryl hits 50, her derriere will have dropped and wrinkled. The now taut butt that bears the blossoming roses will look like a rotting patch of cabbages on an abandoned Newcastle allotment in 20 years' time. Silly girl.
Most of us don't give a damn what happens to Cheryl Cole's bottom, or her career for that matter, but we do care what effect such reckless behaviour has on the impressionable minds of those young fans who adore and emulate her.
She is no longer a young woman, and to many her self-mutilation will shout not so much the triumph of girl power, but the tragedy of a lost little girl desperately screaming out for attention and help.