Why do people get tattoos?

Tattoos are expensive, they are painful and they are permanent. Many people find them unattractive, or even repulsive, others see the beauty in them. If you get a tattoo, you will be judged by others because of that tattoo. You may be labelled a criminal, a thug, uneducated and immature and you most certainly have some underlying psychological issues that you are trying to compensate for. People think that tattoos are just a cry for attention, a rebellion against society, or a way to hide who we truly are. Some will say you get tattoos in order to be different, yet others will claim you are just trying to fit in with all of the other tattooed people.

In all honesty, all of those opinions are true, but at the same time couldn’t be more wrong. The truth is that some people do get their tattoos to rebel or be different and some tattooed people are in fact uneducated thugs and criminals. But that fact should not lead to the conclusion that this is the case for all people with tattoos. Unfortunately, some people can and will jump to those very conclusions.

I was recently involved in a rather lengthy debate, in the comments section of an article posted on NPR. Keep in mind the article was posted in the health section and was talking specifically about the dangers of tattoo ink. Ignorant comments about tattoos and tattooed people are completely irrelevant to the subject at hand, yet as I predicted, those are exactly the type of comments that began to flood the page. The following are just a few of those comments, highlighting some people who obviously know very little about tattoo culture. This is their twisted view on why people get tattoos.

No offense. When I see a tattoo I think “There’s somebody tryin’ really hard to be special. Just like everybody else.”

No offense, but I hardly call this “thinking” at all. You are assuming rather than doing any real thinking.

People color their skin exactly because they didn’t like the judgments they were getting before the tattoo. They hope to change judgments somehow, to camouflage and obscure the true self. Many would say express the true self. I say they’re posers; I say walk the walk of you. I say be yourself and if you don’t like the judgments you get, change yourself or change your company. Don’t just change your skin and think yourself “improved”. You are what you do. Not what tattoo you pick out of a book one drunken evening. Tattoos only fool shallow people who can’t see beyond the surface of things.

As if it wasn’t enough to lump all tattooed people into a group of second class citizens, now they are trying to take away the meaning behind our ink. These shallow and self-contradicting comments are almost too painful to read sometimes. How can you state “You are what you do”, but in the same breath make nonsensical assumptions about why I got my tattoo in the first place. The idea that most tattoos are obtained on a drunken whim is just so utterly ridiculous I can’t stand it. To claim to know the exact reason why people get tattooed, when you have not gone through the experience yourself is just as ridiculous.

To top it off, he concludes his judgmental rambling by stating tattoos only fool shallow people who can’t see beyond the surface. I can turn that statement around and point it right back at him because in this case he is the shallow fool that cannot see beyond the ink on the surface or even attempt to understand the meaning behind it. He presumes to know all the answers based on the surface, yet refuses to believe there is anything underneath when told otherwise.

“Yeah, right. People get tattoos for their own personal viewing pleasure, not for other people to see … lol.”

Even when explanations are offered and stories are told, we are essentially being written off as liars by these people. Instead of accepting that some of us get tattoos for personal reasons, this guy mocks the idea and laughs in our faces.

I saved the worst for last.

Well, when I see a chick with a tattoo I think…”Slut!”
Then if she’s not too fat I generally move a little closer to get a better look.
Which is, of course, exactly why she inked herself.

As a man I am offended and embarrassed to be the same gender as the guy who wrote this. As a woman, I would be outraged. He obviously is crying for attention himself and his lame attempt at getting that attention was completely ignored in subsequent comments. I will follow suit and say no more about this statement, let it speak for itself and allow my readers to draw their own conclusions.

With all that being said, what are some of the real reasons people decide to go out and get tattoos.

Honoring a lost loved one

If someone wants to commemorate a lost friend, relative or even a pet with a tattoo, why try to take that away from them? Is it so far fetched to think of a tattoo as an acceptable form of tribute to someone we lost when we bury our soulless dead in the ground and go to visit their grave-sites? If we truly believe that the soul leaves the body in death, what exactly are we visiting? Is the idea of keeping ashes in an urn on your mantle really more acceptable than getting a tribute tattoo? Why not carry around the memorial on your skin where others have a chance to see it and possibly ask questions, giving you the opportunity to talk about and remember the person on a regular basis?

Symbolizing a life-changing event

Some tattoos are a representation of a period of time or specific event which was a turning point for that person. They can serve as a reminder of what we have been through to get where we are today. There are an infinite number of events that occur in our lives that help shape us to be who we are. Relationships beginning or ending, overcoming a terrible disease or beating cancer, or in some cases covering the resulting scars.

For the love of art

Some people don’t get tattooed for deep personal or spiritual reasons, they simply like the art and design aspect of it. In some cases an artist may want to showcase a piece of their own art on their body, others may walk into a shop and see a design that they just need to have.

To show your dedication to a significant other

What better way to show your devotion to your significant other, than permanently inking their name into your skin? Ok, maybe it’s not such a great idea after all. But I think I just thought of an idea for a new type of dating site that allows you to search for people with the same name you already have tattooed on your body.

Religion/Cultural reasons

Some people wear crosses around their necks, others get them tattooed on their bodies. For people who feel strongly about their religion, a tattoo is just another way of showing others their faith. For others, the tattoo is a right of passage or a representation of status in the community.

There are far too many reasons behind tattoos to try to list them all in a single blog post and that was not my intention. I am also not going to sit here and try to convince you that every single tattoo out there has a story to tell, or a deep meaning behind it because that would be an outright lie. I will even admit that many people get tattoos for the reasons I criticized early in this post. There are plenty of people who get tattoos for pure aesthetic purposes, some people who get them based on a dare, peer pressure, alcohol, etc…

The point I am trying to make is that you never know the reason behind a tattoo unless you ask. The possibilities are endless and to claim to know otherwise based on a fleeting glance is just ignorant.

Update: 4/6/2013
New followup article posted: More Thoughs On Why People Get Tattoos


  1. Dan says

    Dude I’d hate to tell you this, but tattoos are astoundingly awful. Pure evil. There is no excuse for intentionally scarring the body out of pride. You think this life is just meaningless? If you were capable of being enlightened about the REAL TRUTH of tattoos, you’d be on the floor wrenching in spiritual pain and asking for forgiveness like I did. And it was never granted. Tattoos DESTROY. Permanently modified ego. We try to take life into our own hands, we die.

    • says

      Dude, I hate to tell you this, but we are all going to die. Who said anything about this life being meaningless?

      I would love to be enlightened about the real truth of tattoos. At least give me one example of something destroyed by tattoos. That would be a start.

  2. RRams says

    Tattoos look horrible, especially on women. Just like big ugly glasses and old man sweaters are a fad, tattoos are the current fad. History has taught us that people will do anything to fit in, no matter how terrible it looks, if other people do it insecure people will follow. Instead of making you look “different” you look like a wannabe. Hopefully the trend will go away soon.

    • Quetzl says

      I’m sure they had your thoughts in mind when they went to the shop and had the work done. “Gosh, I wonder what RRams would think of this?”

    • Sv says

      Historically speaking, tattoos have been around for thousands of years. Egyptian women use them as an amulet for child birth. The earliest records of tattoos came from an frozen “iceman” named Otzi. His tattoos were believed to be use for medicinal purposes like acupuncture. Fun facts

  3. Arsenal1Again says

    A tattoo means one thing, a person made a choice to ink his or her skin. For each person there will be different reasons behind this choice.

    A person criticising tattoos is a person who believes others should not be allowed to make personal choices about their skin, their money and their time. Instead the tattooed people should be like them … in other words disallowed to make a personal choice about their skin, to be disallowed or unable to spend $$$ to have their skin inked. It’s not fair people can have tattoos and not them. So they judge and find fault, they try making people seem smaller with bitter and spiteful prattle because it makes them feel bigger and better about themselves.

    Tattooed people should never feel the need to defend their choice to have a tattoo. I’m writing this so you don’t need to. Instead go through life not caring what other people think about your tattoos. As soon as you go on the defensive you show you care, that you have regrets, that your judge has exposed the truth – their truth.

    That’s it in a nut shell.

  4. A reader that fell in love with Paul says

    From the phenomenological approach in social theory, the reasons, values and meaning behind these kind of social phenomena lie on its subjective nature. Everyone has their own perspective to look at things. It doesn’t matter if you claim to have scientific/objective values for them, because in the end it’s just about taking in what you feel comfortable with according to the person you came out to be in this crazy world, and that person is a mix between both nature and nurture.

    I fell in love with you, Paul. Great article.

    P.S. Even though some comments are getting on my nerves, specially the misogynistic ones, I’ll keep on reading them for I am a curious girl.

  5. Alex says

    I believe people are free to do whatever they feel like, as long as their freedom doesn’t affect the next person.

    I personally don’t like tattoos, but it doesn’t bother me that a lot of people have them.

    Unfortunately, there are cases where the tattoo is an obvious display of rudeness and that’s when the freedom rule gets broken. If you have something erotic, religious, rude words, etc on display, you are obviously being provocative. Not towards me, I don’t care, but you have to consider that there are more sensitive people that get offended by certain things, and therefore, by shoving your “art” down those people’s throat, you are being offensive.

    One example I remember, is seeing some guy with a tattoo of Cradle of Filth, a black metal band that I used to listen to when I was younger, and this tattoo consisted of a nun inserting a cross on her vagina. At the time I found it funny, as I even liked the band, but thinking back, I’m sure it offended and still offends a lot of people.

    I’m all for freedom of expression, but when people are selfish to the point where they don’t consider people’s feelings, that’s wrong.

    Unfortunately, tattoos are not like books, radio, internet, TV, etc, where if something offends you, you shut it off. But when someone is in a queue in front of you and has a swastika on their arm, then that’s a different story.

    The majority of tattoos are absolutely fine though, this is just a minority.

    I’m not easily offended, but I respect that some people are, so always I try to have that in mind, therefore I never swear in public, talk loudly, wear rude t-shirts, etc. I don’t buy the all “It’s my life, it’s my body, I do whatever I want to it”, we happen to live in a society, and respecting other people’s freedom should be top priority.

    Here in the UK, a lot of people have tattoos, but the most inked (full arms, back, hands, etc), are a social class known as Chavs, which means Council House and Violence. These are people that live of benefits because they simply don’t want to work. Somehow they manage to use the contributors money to ink themselves from top to bottom and it’s usually a mix between names of their kids, partner, mom, etc with aggressive, offensive and violent art. And I think this is the kind of people a lot of people are complaining about on this site.

    I feel that if you have the money and your priorities set right, a well thought and meaningful tattoo can be a beautiful thing, but when someones has a few hundred pounds, not a lot to be proud in life, no career, no education and decides to spend money on a pointless tattoo instead of buying a book or invest in their kids’ future, that’s when you go “What?!?!?!”

    My brother has got a large tattoo on his left leg, a Buddha. He went travelling for some months in Asia, and fell in love with Buddhism, latter on he decided to get a tattoo that reflected one of the best experiences he’s ever had. I fully supported his decision, even though I dislike tattoos, because it made sense and it was going to be hidden most of the time, therefore not shoving it down people’s throats constantly. He, like many people have stated here, did it for himself, not to show off to anyone, and I respect that immensely.

    On a funny note, I’m glad my wife didn’t go ahead with the vegetarian tattoo, lol, she stopped being one, and it would be pretty ironic to have that tattoo now, haha.

    Great article by the way :-)

  6. Leandra says

    It’s so simple, people.

    Tattooing is art, and if you actually took time to get accurate education on the matter of its affect on the body, you would know that tattoo ink is only bad for you if you get it done at an unprofessional, dirty, unsterilized place with a filthy needle that could give you an STD because they use the same needle over and over.

    We all make various forms of art, and we all have a meaning that comes with it.

    Some people get tattoos to honor loved ones or to express their personalities.

    And others get racist, offensive, sexist, promiscuous, or simply just stupid tattoos.

    Moral is: just because you’ve met bad people who have tattoos, nowhere does that mean that all of the millions of tattooed people on this planet are like that. There are 7 billion people on this planet. How can you possibly claim all tattooed people are slimy as a fact if you haven’t met them all?

    I’m not saying you have to get to know every person on this planet. It’s simple: Reserve judgment until you know enough.

  7. hmmmm says

    The Matrix has you Neo, time for some body modifications!

    Human nature is a hard thing to cure, it isn’t a form of rebellion more like its a form spitting an image by painting the town red.

    – Tattoos
    – Body Mods
    – Drugs
    – Boos
    – Smoking
    – Muscle Mass (ah just for the hell of it)
    – Sex Op
    – Lipo
    – Surgery
    – Hair Implants
    – Juggs
    – Tanning Booths
    – Orgies

    Yaw yaw list keeps going, by the time you hit a bend you realize you came full circle.

  8. Misty says

    Thank you Eddie for sharing your story and the meaning behind your motivation to get tattoos. It was touching, and showed how something as small as getting pictures inked into your skin can be a powerful motivator and reminder of what you have been t through, what you want to avoid, and what you want to continue to do for your benefit and your family. It was an honor to read your story.

    For me, it is always quite ironic that the one voicing a condemning voice about how tattoos offend, is often the very one smoking (and causing me or my family to ‘benefit’ in his slow demise by the carcinogens second hand smoke offers) in a public place, or is wearing some sort of rude, obnoxious, or subjective clothing that could easily (and often does) offend. I know it is human nature to judge things that aren’t beneficial to the human race, just personal to one’s beliefs. Still, manners should be the inoculation to ‘foot in mouth’ disease that so plagues the current population. I do understand voicing an opinion to a friend in private, but to regurgitate the personal views of oneself onto another in such a rude manner is just egotistical, selfish, narcissistic, and desiring of attention…. Basically, many of the ‘reasons’ the vocal minority want to attribute to the inked individual.

    Tattooed or not, if a crime is in progress, harm to someone else, theft, etc, then by all means express your opinion and get help…. But for a personal opinion about someone else’s choices and desires of expressing oneself (that is obviously not harming anyone), please keep your thoughts to yourself…. Throwing stones has a way of riccoching back on you in ways you wouldn’t expect…

    Truly, God bless!

  9. Eddie says

    I got my first tattoo when I was 19. I got it in 1987, just as they were beginning to become more socially accepted. At this time it was gang members, convicts and military people who got them mostly. For me that first tattoo had several significances. For one it was the second truly adult choice I had made, and it represented the truly first adult choice I had made. That tattoo signified a turning point in my life. The choice I had made took me from teen hood into manhood. It was a moment in my life I wanted to remember, and it marked me as being a member of one of the toughest group of fighters known throughout the world. That first tattoo was the Eagle, Globe and Anchor of the United States Marine Corps. To this day I still wear that tattoo proudly. But I did not get it placed someplace I could not hide it. I put it on my right upper arm, close to the shoulder. A simple long sleeve shirt covered it up.
    My thought with the placement was I wanted to be able to cover it up when needed. But it was not so I could look for work at some later time. Military regulations state that you are government property and you are not allowed to deface military property. So I could, in fact, be charged for getting a tattoo, and the charge would be defacing military property. Most seniors didn’t give a crap. But to be safe I put it where it could be hidden while in uniform.
    In the 2 years that followed I got 4 more tattoos. All but one of those 5 tattoos I got has meaning. That one tattoo with no meaning I got to balance out the other tattoos on my arm. Hard to explain without pictures, and if you have no tattoos. So I won’t. All were placed to be able to hide them with a short sleeve shirt, but could be displayed with a tank top and shorts.
    Of those five there was only one I had somewhat regretted getting. Back in the 80’s I had a tag name. Today that tag name is my cyber name. I had gotten that name tattooed on my chest. It was not the name I regretted getting, it was the font style I did not like, and thus regretted. The funny thing is that the font style was the style I used to use when tagging my name on subway doors as a teen, it was my style and I did not like it as a tattoo. But I kept it as is because like it or not it was a choice I had made and it was a choice I would live with. More about this tattoo in a bit.
    In my four years as an active Marine I had gotten 5 tattoos, 4 with meanings, 1 for show. I knew I would get more. When? I did not know. The time had to be right and I felt there had to be a reason. I did not want to just go and get a tattoo just to get one. (That view changes later.) I was discharged from active duty and went into civilian life. Got a job and got married. I had become a family man and even though I saw the tattoos every day, I basically forgot they were there. At home and at work I would wear short sleeve shirts. My tattoos were not exposed most times, even among those who knew I had them. And those that didn’t know I had any never knew.
    My daughter was born in ’94, and was named after a Disney Princess (x-wifes idea). In ’97 my son was born and he was named after a Klingon warrior (my idea). I had decided on my next tattoo, but it would be a few years before I would get it. The NYC tattoo ban of 1961 had been lifted in ’97 and tattoo parlors began popping up everywhere. As I kept seeing new shops open the idea of getting that next tattoo became a foremost thought. So after popping in and out of tattoo parlors and checking out their work I finally got the tattoo I wanted that would represent my kids. I got that Disney princess framed by Klingon swords on my forearm. When asked why I simply tell them these are my kids and they are the foremost things in my life. I had gotten that one in ’01 when tattoos were making a big come back. And I knew I wanted more tattoos. It would be 13 years before I got my next one.
    To understand the next group of tattoos I got you need to know this about me. I am a Trekkie. (Duhhh…I named my son after a Klingon.) I once had a room (this was when I was married and the kids were in grammar school) that was painted black and had ships from Star Trek, Star Wars and a slew of other sci fis hanging from the ceiling. Action figures still in there boxes were hung on the wall while other action figures stood on shelves in poses. This room was a mini museum and anyone who walked in would become amazed and transfixed on the displays I had. I loved showing off my collection. In time I gave the room up for my son, and boxed the collection up until I could redo it at some later date. In ’07 I separated from the wife and in a messy divorce I lost all my material possession. How I lost it does not matter, the fact that I lost it does. Many of those toys I had grown up with, and had played with. Hell I still had the first Star Wars action figure my mother had bought me when I was 9. All thrown out by an angry sister in law. But I always told myself I would redo that collection.
    After a 3 year custody battle I finally got custody of my kids, got a small apartment and then lost my job. I spent the next 2 years trying to fix up my life and seemed to fail at every turn. I went to the government for help (welfare) and was stuck there for that 2 years. During that time I fell into a deep depression and was finding it hard to get out of it. I finally said “Fuck Welfare” and took matters back into my own hands. I went out and got a job, got fired less than a week later and went out and got another job. It was at that job(6 months ago) I got another tattoo. I got a simple bio hazard tattoo on the back of my neck, but low enough to hide with any short sleeved shirt. I had wanted to get that tattoo for awhile, and I finally did. And I began to change.
    During the time I was unemployed and depressed I did not care about my self-image. It would not bother me to bathe once a month. I was not seeing anyone, or going anywhere, so what did it matter? That was my mindset at the time. I am not saying it was right or wrong, just that was how I was at the time. But getting that tattoo I wanted it to heal nicely. I wanted it to stand out. I wanted to keep it looking good. I began to bathe daily, sometimes 2 or 3 times all just to take care of the tattoo. But it made me feel good. And I found I wanted to show it off. I cleaned myself up and without meaning too got myself to look 10 years younger. About two weeks later I was getting my next tattoo. It was a Klingon Bird of Prey on my chest. I got it so some of it would stick out from underneath the shirt and show. This was followed by the Starship Enterprise and the Millennium Falcon. All ships that I had fallen in love with the moment I saw them, all ships that had hung from my ceiling. As I stood in front of the mirror looking at the new tattoos I realized I had started to replace my old collection, but this time I was using my body to display what I liked.
    It was about then I decided I was going to get my future tattoos in places where they would be noticed even with a short sleeved shirt. I began to work out so I would not be showing off nice tattoos on a worn out body. Hell, I got my 6-pack abs back. Must have been 20 years or so since I had them. Point being I began to take pride once again in how I looked. And it’s all because I wanted to show off my tattoos.
    After getting the ships tattooed on me I lost that job. But I did not lose the confidence I had just acquired. I was fired on a Tuesday and by that Friday I had another job, and one where having the tattoos was not an issue. In the 2 months I have worked there I have gotten 3 new tattoos and 1 touch up. The touch up was my tag name. I got it touched up and improved. To me it shows that even a bad mistake can be corrected. The last tattoo I got was a female Vulcan sitting on the hull of the Enterprise. I got that one simply because I liked it. No other reason than that.
    I plan on getting other tattoos. Some will have meaning, most others just because I want them. And even though I am getting several of them to show off, they are and will always be more for me than anything.
    In the past 6 months since restarting my tattoo collection I found that I have changed in ways that I think are for my better. I am much more confidant in doing things, such as looking for work. But I am more mind full of my appearance. I keep myself nicely groomed, bathe at least once a day, and even though I am a truck driver I really don’t dress the part. Being 46 years old maybe it is a midlife crisis, or maybe not. All I know is I feel real good about myself, better than I have in a long time. And I attribute that to the tattoos. Yes, I have become more narcissistic in the past few months, always looking in the mirror to look at myself and my tattoos. But which would you rather have? The down and out single father who stays at home depressed over how unfair the world is as he sits home collecting welfare benefits or the single dad/former Marine who is out there busting his ass for himself and his kids? My recent tattoos have helped turn my life around and for that I am proud to have them, and I can’t wait until I get more.
    If having and wanting tattoos makes me a bad person, a deranged deviant with psychotic tendencies, who’s constant thoughts are getting laid and being a rebel with no regard to society, then so be it. Judge me as you will. As you sit there judging me I will be punching into work to earn the money I need to pay the rent and put food on the table, and save up for that next tattoo.
    Thank you for your time.

  10. Misty says

    While reading through the many many comments, some well written and thoughtful on both sides, many thoughts and responses flowed through my mind…. Now to try and remember them all, haha…

    First, age wise I thoughtfully and with much sentimental and personal (so those that slam me and others for our personal choices is just sad and selfish) inspiration got my first tattoo in my 30’s. I have never done drugs, been arrested, have diseases, been a slut ‘loose’ or without morality values. I am educated, professional, hardworking and initially had a prejudice as personal opinion (would never share it with someone, especially publicly) against tattoos; not the person, although certain perceptions were inherent…. And very wrong. Harsh dealings in life made me want to find away to tell a story of my life, other then the way the highly visible scars did. I’ve had the majority of positive response to my ink. My family, other than my younger brother, was against the idea and held to preconceived ideas as well… Problem was they knew me, thus breaking the stereotypical judgments they had. Their personal choice of liking or disliking the look is OK, that’s their choice, but judging me because of a tattoo was out as they know who I am.

    Now, a thought on addressing the thought about those of us inked as trying to call attention to ourselves, or because self esteem is bad etc… How many people get breast implants, lips inflated, yes, change hair color or apply make up to hide a flaw or flaunt/accentuate a beauty aspect. What about the hours and hours of those in a gym? Bulking up, cardiovascular, and not just for health but to look good at the beach, or in jeans, etc? Men get implants as well, color their mustache/beard.. Those that wear contacts instead of glasses, get braces (other then to aid in bite correction), whiten their teeth, get veneers, etc… The list goes on and on for the ‘acceptable’ enhancements that no one says they are insecure, attention seekers, demean their intelligence, morales, education, honesty, integrity, etc… But get a tattoo (gasp) and all that changes….

    How about clothing… Yes, it is a necessity, but for those that complain they don’t want to see my tattoo, they give no thought about the shirt they wear broadcasting their team they like, their musical band they follow, a sad or vulgar statement plastered all over their shirt. I weather their (obviously not everyone, it is a general statement for emphasis) propaganda quietly, if I don’t like the statement, I advert my eyes… Even if it offends me..

    For those whose thoughts for dislike (which is better then judging me for who I am, but is still off base for a line of reasoning, imo) of those of us inked is that we will get bored with our ink, or that a personal choice with great sentimental meaning is stupid, b*llsh*the, etc… Have you ever kept a diary? A journal? Kept a momento from a special occasion (that includes a football, baseball, autograph, stamp collection, whatever that holds sentiment or value TO YOU)? Would I dare to call you something derogatory, or degrade your humanity because you did such a thing? Never! So I choose to wear my journal, FOR ME.. Just as you might wear a favorite band t-shirt, or letterman jacket FOR YOU… I might hate the band, or team or school, but you aren’t wearing it for me but for you. Same with keeping a journal. You might say it is hidden, well, if I hadn’t told I had tattoos, you wouldn’t have known either; they were hidden as well… Just a thought

    I am a strong Bible believing Christian whose faith is in what CHRIST did for me at the cross. I do not find tattoos against biblical principles, nor do I believe they are an insult to my Lord. Yes, my personal tattoos extol my beliefs and glorify God, but again, they are for me and are as personal as my relationship with God

    A final note… How many of those of you that vehemently hate tattoos (and the people wearing them) have met someone, liked them, respected their abilities, hardworking, etc, only to find out later they have a tattoo, or more? Did it really change your thoughts towards them that much, and if so, why?? This is a rhetorical thought, and it could go either way as those of us with tattoos are no (necessarily) Saints or perfect ;) …. But if we have tattoos as our vice, what is yours? Porn, tax evasion, gossip, judgmental/condemning spirit, hatred towards those outside your point of view, gluttony, laziness or so much worse?? Sure,, a tattooed person could be this also, but in general, we don’t automatically assume you are just because you’re not tattooed… Again, just a thought… God bless

  11. Leandra says

    Urias, how in the world does doing something to your own body and no one else’s like committing genocide?

    Would you rather they kill an innocent person, or willingly get a tattoo?

  12. Leandra says

    I personally love tattoos, but only if they actually mean something and you are certain you want them forever.

    My advice: Don’t go to a parlor that has a bad reputation or is dirty and not sterilized. Make sure they wear gloves and wash their hands and go over the procedures with you. Make sure they are are not hesitant to answer questions you may have.

    I don’t have any right now, but I will when I feel I am ready.

    My parents hate tattoos, not because of the stereotypes about the people who have them, but because they believe it harms your body. But they only hate the tattoo(s), not the person who has them. They would never condemn someone for their appearance like that.

    My mom said, “Whenever I look at someone who as a tattoo, I don’t think, ‘What a (insert insult here).’ Instead I think, ‘Poor thing ;( .’ ”

    In other words, she has sympathy for them and still sees them as human beings-human beings who make mistakes like everyone else.

    Why can’t the prejudiced tattoo haters be like this?

    I at least want to marry someone who hates tattoos but won’t think any less of anyone who has one or more. Liking different things that don’t hurt anybody does not mean we shouldn’t be together.

    Hate the tattoo, not the person who wears them.

    How hard is that?

    Even if getting a tattoo was bad, don’t judge others for sinning differently than you. Don’t act like you are flawless or sinless if you have made mistakes before.

    It’s not like they murdered, stole, assaulted, or raped.

  13. Mike Diamond says

    Tattoos were cool when only a few people had them and those people were for the most part cool, tough, rebels… basically not mainstream society.

    The real issue today with tattoos is the coolness factor has declined significantly. Today, if you buy yourself a tattoo you’re now lumped into the mainstream like everyone else even if you did get a tattoo for another reason.

    • says

      I’m not sure why the coolness factor is a real issue unless the only reason you are getting tattoos is to appear cool. I was mainstream before I got tattooed, I’m still mainstream now and I don’t really care. That wasn’t the point for me.

  14. Laura says

    Hi Paul,
    first of all, just in case – sorry for my English, not a native speaker…
    Just stumbled upon your blog, the first this differenciated approach to the topic I came across, really. Or probably it’s just that I can relate to what you wrote (except the patience you show when answering some of those comments ;) ).

    Actually, I find myself in a similar position, being an electrical engineer, 28 years old, having spent years, literally, thinking about motive and spot for my first tattoo. Same here, no one in my family has one, my boyfriend doesn’t have an high opinion about it (but still supports me), and I don’t think my mom will appreciate it either. Also, I just put one of those temporary tattoos on my forearm and watched the reactions at my workplace (most people just staring, some spontaneously taking my hand and touching it). And watching myself, whether I feel comfortable showing it.

    There are some thoughts I got about this. First of all – yes I started thinking about getting tattooed again more often after I’ve spent more time with tattooed people. Interestingly, I’ve met almost all of them at the university ;) They are engineers like me, or sales people, or managers. It’s not about peer group or being one of them or anything. It’s about the realization that it’s not the horrible carreer-killing-low-income-outlaw-thing I was made to believe.

    Personally, this is a very important time for me, and yes, my motive will have something to do with it, and I will think about the exact what-and-where for some more weeks or months before I go through with it. I’m just not sure if I should really have it on an area where it’s not convered by a t-shirt. Not because of me – besides the personal meaning, I’d love a simple and delicate design e.g. on my forearm, I know I’d love to see it on myself on an everyday basis. But because of other people’s judgement or how serious they may take me. Makes me wonder if going for what I enjoy is worth the impact that it may have on my professional future. Or if I should cut back on it and at least start with something that’s “invisible” for others.
    Well, enough ranting from my part ;)
    Thanks again for sharing your story, findings and thoughts!
    Best wishes!

  15. says

    The funny thing is, why didn’t all of these people have tattoos 20 years ago? Suddenly, they do. It has more to do with a generation of followers and unoriginality and a need to be seen and validated by society than anything else. Peer pressure really is a bitch. Call it what it is. Nine times out of ten, if you’re getting a tattoo today it’s because half your friends already have one and you feel like the odd one out. On the other hand, nine times out of ten if you don’t know anybody with a tattoo, its likely youre not trying too hard to get one. And while all the reasons mentioned by the author are valid reasons why people do get tattoos the most common reason is not to remember a loved one, shit, people have been dying by the millions for ages, and most of the time people didn’t think to go drawing on their skin; people have been falling in love for millenia and the majority of them didnt think firstly to go paint themselves full of hearts, thats not love, thats just painting yourself full of hearts; and people have been religious for ages and most of those dont condone desecrating the body, yes, the most common reason, today, is to be like everybody else, whereas a half a century ago, you could actually say, I’m original.

    • says

      I am an example of someone who got a tattoo when very few of my friends, family members or co-workers were tattooed. I have never felt the slightest bit of pressure to get a tattoo. Am I the 1 out of 10? Or am I just being exposed to tattoos far more frequently than I would have been 20 years ago? Shows like Miami Ink, LA Ink, NY Ink, Tattoo Nightmares, Ink Master, Best Ink, Tattoo Highway, etc… did not exist 20 years ago. My interest in tattoos began to grow after watching a few seasons of Miami Ink and being exposed to the world of high quality tattoos.

      I was also well aware of the stigma associated with tattooed people and did not want to be a part of that group. As the popularity has grown, or at least become more publicly accepted, I stated to think more and more about the idea of getting my own tattoo. It wasn’t about fitting in at all, but more about no longer being seen as an outcast because of the tattoo. Contrary to what many people believe, I really don’t see that many people running out to get tattoos in order to say they are original or unique.

      I never claimed any of the reasons listed here were the most common reasons nor did I claim they were the only reasons. Your observations are more applicable to the younger generations of people getting tattoos, and my list is geared more towards an older audience who I think are less susceptible to peer pressure than someone who is still in school.

  16. Arte says

    Personally I’ve always been attracted to people with ink, even when I was a kid seeing the colors under their skin was so beautiful to me. I’ve always had tattoos in my mind and when I could legally get them myself I made the image of me in my mind real. Now I feel a lot more comfortable in my own skin and I’d hate not having them. I even drew pictures on my barbies as a kid because I wished I could have them on me. There was no one around me that was into ink, and I didn’t get them to rebel against anyone. I just wanted the image of me in my mind to be my reality. Now they are a part of me forever and I couldn’t be happier in my decision.

  17. Poisson says

    I’ve read your article and see your points.

    I disagree with all the reasons to get a tattoo you explained, except one : the love of art.

    I see tattoos as drawings. Drawn on your skin indeed, but still a drawing, and a piece of art.

    I totally respect and like those who are honest enough to just admit they got tattooed because they simply find it beautiful, unlike those who try to give that drawing some esoterical meaning.
    “I felt the need to do it because [insert deep meaning here] and if you don’t like it you’re a closen minded jerk”
    Those are the annoying ones.

    Fuck. Would you show someone else a piece of art, MADE BY SOMEONE ELSE BTW, and say : I keep it as a way of SELF EXPRESSION?

    You’re not expressing yourself. Unless you made the design yourself, you’re bearing the artistical expression of the tattoo artist who inked you basing on your instructions. The tattoo artist, who is a drawer before all, transform your words in a piece of art, but he’s the one doing all the fucking work, and this is HIS artistical expression.
    Truth is a lot of tattooed people I MET (my personal subjective experience, so don’t get mad) will never admit they did it because they like the style.
    Why can’t they just answer “I simply find it beautiful and I got the cash so why not?” No. Let’s bullshit everyone with deep shit to show them how spiritual you are.

    I’m not a tattoo basher. I find some of them incredibly well realised and beautiful, and I actually consider getting one. But fuck, the sillyness of most tattooed ppl make me cringe.

    • says

      You can disagree all you want, but it I stand behind everything I wrote. My own tattoos mean so much more to me than just their artistic value and I find it rather insulting to be told by someone who doesn’t have any tattoos that I’m just bullshitting everyone when I say that. I would be lying if I told you that I got my tattoos simply because I find them beautiful. What I find silly is that someone can complain that all of the people in the world with tattoos need to admit that they got tattooed simply because they had the cash and like the style. I’m sorry, but that is complete and total bullshit.

      Tattoo is a form of art, but differs from most other art forms because the canvas is the human body. It is true that the tattoo artist does the work, but I chose the design and chose where to place it and I have to wear it for the rest of my life. Someone who chooses to tattoo a swastika on their forehead is expressing themselves in a very clear way and couldn’t care less about the artistic value of the symbol or who the artist was.

      It literally took me years of wanting a tattoo before I finally decided on what to get. The reason it took so long is because I wanted it to have meaning to me, not only today but long into the future. My artistic tastes will change over the years, but what my tattoo represents is a point in my life that I always want to remember.

      Whether you realize it or not, you are are insulting everyone who has a tattoo for any reason other than pure artistic value. Concluding your little rant with, “I’m not a tattoo basher.” doesn’t negate everything you said prior.

      • Poisson says

        Got it.

        I agree that some tatoos are made in a way to express oneself, especially when it comes to symbology, the probably most extreme case being a svastika on the forehead indeed (would cost a fine un europe tho)
        Well I do apologize If you felt insulted. My point was that most tatoos made today are brainless inkings since it became a trend among highschoolers/ young college kids.
        Not meaning that all of the tatooed youth is made of influencable sheeps, but there’s certainly a very high percentage. In my last year of highschool I encoutered countless generic “flash” tatoos, anchors, dreamcatchers, and silly letterings. Girls being usually the worst, I knew 2 in the same class who had a similar feather tatoo. I found it ridiculous. Even my girlfriend got this girly anchor tatooed, like there are bazillions out there, and she still talked about how it is her special way to express herself. sigh.
        In my short life the only experience I had of tatoos was mostly negative, being totally generic and worn by teens trying to be edgy.

        You obviously don’t fit in this category of course, and I have to give credit to you and all those who put a bit of their soul and lots reflexion into it. But tatoos were once a controversial thing done by grown ups, now kids use their parents cash, get their tats, and the first thing they do on their way home is to post pictures on facebook/twitter/instagram to prove that they’re now on the edgy side.

        I don’t know shit about tatoo culture. But I do know that the very concept of tatoo as a way of expression is being bastardized by my generation. Tatoos on teen pop stars, tatoos on reality tv shows, tatoos in high schools.
        Tatoos as facebook status uptade… (god)

        That’s the kind of tatoos I hate. The trend tatoo.
        Tatoos used to tell a story. Tatoos were worn by bikers, working class, musicians, rockers, artists, thugs… Now tatoo/piercing shops are sprouting like mushrooms. It’s becoming a trend. And I do find it sad, because out there there are smart people, tatoo artists and bearers alike, putting heart into it. But I fear in 30 years they will be a droplet in a sea of posers.

        • says

          Thanks for replying again. Now that you clarified things a bit more, I actually agree with just about everything you are saying here. There are too many people going out and getting tattoos just for the sake of getting a tattoo. This seems to be especially true when we are talking about younger people who are trying to emulate their friends or the teen pop star of the month.

          The problem with speaking about tattoos in a general sense is that we all associate with different types of people with tattoos. Hang out in a high school and you will see lots of people with smaller, less expensive, and often times less significant tattoos. But spend time in a high end tattoo shop and you will see amazing works of art that are more likely to have a story to tell.

          People very often fail to distinguish between a piece of flash are picked out of a book and a custom tattoo that truly does have significant meaning to the owner.

          I started getting tattooed at a later age (30) and most people I associate with who are tattooed also started later in life and have tattoos with significant meaning to them. This skews my perspective towards this type of tattoo. If I was in high school or college today and writing this blog, I think my perspective on things would much closely match yours.

          When anyone makes a statement about “most people” you really have to put yourself in their shoes in order to see where they are coming from. One of the most challenging aspects of writing this blog is always remembering that my own views are not shared by everyone, or even by the majority in many cases.

          No matter how many people you see or know with trendy tattoos, don’t let that shift your perspective too far to one side. There is a whole world of people out there getting tattooed for an infinite number of reasons.

          This discussion might even inspire me to write a new post about this topic some time in the near future.

  18. Laura says

    I was doing research on tattoos for an informative speech I had to do for my college class and this helped a lot. Reading this even motivated me, as a tattoo wearer, to embrace them and be happy. My tattoos really do make me happy, and the opinion of others are simply that, opinions. I am glad I came across this. Thank you!

  19. Urias says

    Getting a tattoo is a behavior, part of who we are and part of what makes up our character. Hitler killing people was his behavior, part of what made up his character. You cant say, “Just because Hitler killed people doesn’t give you the right to judge his character.” That is ridiculous.

    • says

      Urias, or is it Justin or Julius? I completely agree that it would be ridiculous to say “Just because Hitler killed people doesn’t give you the right to judge his character.” I don’t know how you can even begin to compare the act of killing another human being to the act of getting a tattoo when it comes to judging a person’s character.

      Saying that getting a tattoo in the general sense is a behavior is like saying that breaking the law is a behavior. Both of these things require more information before any kind of accurate character judgement can be made. Driving 56 mph on the highway is technically breaking the law, but someone who is a serial speeder would not be subject to the same judgements as a serial killer. Just like a person who has a hidden tattoo on their back would not be subject to the same judgements as the person who chose to tattoo a swastika on their forehead.

      Again, I’m not asking you not to judge me, but suggesting that you cannot possibly make an accurate judgement about me based strictly on the fact that I have tattoos. You are free to try if you like. Why don’t you tell me exactly what you know about my character based on my tattoos?

    • Leandra says

      This is one of the most imbecilic things I’ve ever read. How in the world is doing what you want to your own body like committing genocide? That’s like saying willingly getting pierced ears kills other people when it’s obvious they don’t.

      We never would have known Hitler killed millions by judging him by his appearance, would we?

      So don’t do the same to others.

      No offense, but your reasoning is incredibly doltish.

  20. Davy Sock it says

    My hair is longer than normal for a guy. I understand that if I should have to get back into the job market, I may have to cut my hair. The visible tattoo guy , for the most part, unless they get drastic , expensive, lengthy laser treatments , does not have that option. I guess I am saying that I am shocked that educated people in many cases, do not realize this and are actually surprised when they are rejected in the job market. Cleearly, people are not getting the proper career guidance in High School. Like it or not , tattoos are appearance. Get over it.

    • says

      I have written about tattoos and employment elsewhere on this blog.

      Are there really that many educated people with face, neck or hand tattoos out there who are surprised when they are rejected in the job market? Somehow I doubt this. I’m also not exactly sure what I’m supposed to get over in terms of tattoos and appearance. I never tried to claim anything to the contrary.

  21. Umerika says

    It’s just a pop culture, a sad small organized bunch of misguided, troubled youth. Soon as they hit their thirties they rush for the nearest tattoo removal center or spend the rest of their lives working low wage jobs to keep their trash art. It is no more different than questioning why do smokers smoke or why do drinkers drink etc etc..

    There is something about the human species either by biological design or some kind of evolution, that it must injure itself somehow to satiate some need or desire. Be that psychological or delusional, I’d hit the medical texts on this subject. I’m sure they could come up with something far more enlightening.

    • says

      Thanks for your insightful comment. I might as well just shut down this blog, because you have it all figured out.

      All of those people, myself included, who started getting tattoos well into their 30’s and even older must just have an extended troubled youth. We are just a sad, misguided, yet somehow organized group.

      All of the successful tattooed doctors, lawyers and engineers are destined to remain in those crappy low wage jobs forever. Deciding to get a tattoo is no different than deciding to smoke or drink because the addictive properties of tattoo ink are just as powerful as nicotine and alcohol. Tattaholics anonymous meetings are everywhere now as more and more people turn to tattoo ink as their drug of choice.

      And thank you for breaking new ground on evolutionary biology of humans. Is your work in this area published? I would love to read more about my biological urge to injure myself to satiate some desire. I am especially interested in learning what desire it is you think needs satiating.

      I am anxiously waiting your reply since my attempt to respond to your email address didn’t go through even though it sounds like a completely legitimate email address and not one made up to hide behind.


      You just can’t make this stuff up, or in Umerika’s case… you can.

  22. Justin says

    The thing that kills me about all the pro-tat posts is they keep saying how they are sick of negative and judgmental people. Yet they have no problem with people saying how much they love their tats. So if someone happens to JUDGE you in a favorable manner, its perfectly ok. Yet if someone happens to JUDGE you in an unfavorable manner, its offensive and must stop this instance.

    • says

      Thanks for the comment Justin, but I think you need to read my posts more carefully because you seem to have missed the point.

      I have absolutely no problem with people saying they don’t like my tattoos and I have stated this multiple times on this blog. If you hate the artwork, hate the design, hate the colors, or just hate the way tattoos look in general, it doesn’t bother me. I don’t find it offensive because I understand that tattoos are not for everyone. This would be like getting offended when someone doesn’t like one of my favorite movies.

      What I do have a problem with is someone judging my character based on the fact that I have tattoos. This is called stereotyping, even when done in a favorable manor.

      Saying “I hate your tattoos.” is very different than saying “I hate you because you have tattoos.” Turn this around to the positive and it still holds true. Telling someone you love their tattoos is not the same as assuming they are a great person because they have tattoos.

      Do you see the difference?

      • Justin says

        ? Drives me nuts when someone tries to make a distinction between their value system, their belief system, their behavioral patterns and their character. Those ARE the things that make up our character and who we are. It’s like you want the tattoo part of you to be dismissed and want people to look past it, guess your ashamed.

        Anyway, someone above compared tattoos to vanity plates and they were right. The analogy is we all are assigned random numbers and letters to our license plates that are generic and mean nothing to us. Then a select few get “vanity plates” such as “2rich4u” or “mememe”

        Its the same with tattoos. We are all born with the same generic or blank skin, and some want others to look so they paint the skin. The point is, tattoos are vanity plates for some and just plain vain. Others were raised to be humble.

        • says

          It drives me nuts when people try to create a link between body art and a persons value system, belief system and character. I’m not asking for the tattooed part of me to be dismissed. I’m telling you that my tattoos have not changed my character.

          We are all born with blank skin and we all make decisions as to how we want to look when interacting with other people. Every day, we make decisions about what kind of clothing we are going to wear, how to style our hair, how much makeup we put on, what kind of jewelry to wear. Some people make more extreme choices when it comes to all of these things. The same can be said about tattoos. Someone who chooses a memorial tattoo in a discrete location is sending a very different message than the guy who decides to cover his entire face with ink.

          Some people get vanity plates to tell others how rich they are, others do it to spread some humor to those around them, some want to show company or team pride and there are even some spreading messages of hate. You can’t just assume that everyone with a vanity plate or a tattoo is a completely vain person. The best you can hope for is some kind of correlation between people with tattoos and a certain type of behavior. But no matter how strong of a correlation you think you find, it is not going to apply to everyone with tattoos.

          I was raised to be humble and don’t think I have ever been called a vain person. For most of my life I was very shy and reserved, never seeking out attention. By all accounts I am not the type of person that people think would have tattoos. But here I am, maintaining all of those humble characteristics while also being tattooed. The more tattooed people I meet the more I realize that I am exactly the type of person who gets tattoos.

  23. Luckyoldginger says

    I very recently got my first tattoo at the age of 40 (yes, it probably was a ‘midlife crisis’. No, I don’t care what anyone else thinks about that either).

    It has been a real eye-opener to learn from very kind people on the Internet that despite the fact no one can see my tattoo at all, overnight, I suddenly became a completely different woman. A lesser woman. Probably a bigger slut, mind you. Perhaps people should be tested for latent tattoo tendencies so they can be weeded out and judged even before they irrevocably become ruined.

    Reading a lot of these negative comments on tattooed people actually makes me want to get a massive tattoo across my face, so I won’t have to waste any of my time on these judgmental haters. I don’t need that sort of negativity in my life and I’d be very happy for these people to avoid me.

    Love the blog. A force of real rational positivity in a world full of people determined to tell you what to do with your life and your body to keep them happy.

    • says

      You must either be reading a different blog or are just living up to the lazy, no time url you submitted because there are plenty of people who disagree with me in the comments. I have only had to delete one comment from this blog, and it wasn’t a comment directed at me or against me, but something offensive towards another author.

  24. Jon says

    Its funny to read some of these thoughts. I myself have tattoo’s. At one time I wasnt going to go below my elbows so I could cover them when I needed to dress nice. I then started thinking why people dont paint half their car so they can say they have a white and a red car. People dont paint half a picture so no one can see it all. I got my tattoos for diffrent reasons. I got mine for self exspression each tattoo is a diffrent part of me and my life. My daughters name gives me a chance to talk about her , The Chinese writing is my brother and sisters and My name because they are my half siblings and our part chinese. The list goes on but ive read people saying that tattoos are a way of compensating or hiding behind them or what ever other reason you can come up with. If you really studied what tattoos were meant for way back was for expression and visual conformation of who you were. The thing that has turned tattoos bad for us are the dumb ignorant people who used them for the wrong reason as for marking the jews or the gangs using them as a tag. Dont judge everyone by what others do. I once seen in a tattoo parlor that said it best ” The only difference between people with tattoo’s and people without tattoo’s is that people with them dont judge those that dont have any”. Yes I may always be labeled a thug or scary or what ever some other dumb ass can come up with. But im a husband, a father , and I work my butt off to support my family. Tattoos or no tattoos. You judging us with tattoos aint no diffrent than judging someone by their race, color, or sex. The outside dont show the inside. But with tattoos we are just letting you get a glimps of ours. Like them or dont like them. They arent going anywhere soon in fact just growing in numbers by the day.

  25. Dino says

    Let me preface this by saying that the fool owing is merely my observations, not judgements as it is not my right to judge anyone. I’ve read this entire entry & all responses over the course of a day & upon reflection would have to say this has been the most informative & enlightening thing I’ve ever read about tattoos. I’ve been walking this world for 54 years & these are my observations.

    As a child tattoos weren’t nearly as prevalent in society as they are today. My father had them on both arms, upper & lower & I perceived the negativity they garnered him in society & he told me he’d gotten them while in the Navy & told me that if given the choice he would have not done it again because of the social stigmas he endured as a result & that was powerful for me as he was a very quiet, reflective & intelligent man.

    At 17 my parents signed for me to be able to join the Navy right out of high school & I spent 8 years traveling the world & I spent many hours on liberty watching shipmates get them around the world in various states of both drunken revelry & also sometimes cold sober. Many occasions also I endured immense amounts of peer pressure to join in but I always declined, my fathers words ringing in my ears, the look of regret etched on his face as he spoke them. This also lead to a great amount of heckling & derision from others but I was never fazed by that as I’ve never been one much affected by others perceptions of me.

    I saw some pretty crazy things, 1 friend in particular that got his most private of areas covered in a trail of stars & flames once in Hong Kong. Some regretted them, some didn’t & in fact looked at them as a badge of honor of sorts. Years later I returned home where I met my nephew for the 1st time. He was 18 & was rather rebellious & like my father, his father also had tattoos & he’d had the same discussion with his father that I had with mine. Unlike me though he went the opposite way, overtly so & had a large number of tattoos. When I inquired as to his thought process on them he really didn’t have one other than to say he liked them & after getting a few found the process as many here have stated, “addictive”. He found it unusual that given the path my life had taken that I had none & inquired why.

    I told him I just didn’t feel it was for me, I related the conversation I’d had with my father, the impression of regret I felt he’d had over the social stigma & said I felt life was arduous enough as it was without unneeded social stigma to carry. He replied he didn’t really care what others thought & I told him I really didn’t either but nevertheless whether I cared or not my father left with the impression of deep regret & I didn’t want that either.

    Over the course of the next 7 years I watched him go from having a lot of tattoos to being nearly covered. From his neck to his ankles with the exception of his nether regions he had completely inked himself & seemed to be happy. He worked for his fathers painting business & had a seemingly good life. Then things in his life changed, he got married, became a father & then his father passed away from cancer & for the 1st time in his life he had to seek gainful employment somewhere other than working for his dad & it was tough. While very talented his ink was not well received by potential employers. Eventually he received a job working for a contracting service with the condition he cover his ink which resulted in him having to wear long sleeves, turtlenecks & gloves while at work & while this isn’t bad at certain points of the year it is exceedingly oppressive for him during times of the year when temperatures are high.

    He now has a family, 3 children to support & doesn’t have the luxury to be unemployed & must endure the hardships of being dressed to cover these tattoos. I saw him just last week after work & he looked weary & expressed how hot he gets here in the summer months because of what he must wear to cover up & I asked him what his thoughts were now on the subject. He said if he had to do it over again he wouldn’t, his priorities in life have changed with 3 daughters, the oppressive conditions covering his ink cause him & how he’ll explain this to his daughters when they’re older. He said in reflection now that his life & priorities have changed he regrets the decisions of his youth. So what does this mean? Nothing really, he’s 1 person & I’m sure while many young people that are getting inked now that it’s become fashionable will regret it later as he does there are also many that won’t. Walking the urban landscape & seeing so many young people inked so heavily if the thought even crosses their minds, I doubt it.

    As I said in the beginning these are observations I’ve made throughout my life, not judgements, that’s not my place to judge others. I truly believe that many people that get ink have very compelling reasons & think it through clearly perhaps avoiding the pitfalls my nephew has gone through because of the zealous way he did it. I also believe there are many young people, especially females that have pursued this passion with the same zeal my nephew did that have not done it for compelling reasons, covered all over, some even making $ as models from being covered in it that haven’t given much thought to the social stigma this will bring to their lives later down the road irrelevant of it being justified or not. You see that’s what I see as pivotal here.

    It may not be right for people to judge others, but it occurs everyday & always will, right or wrong. One thing I have discovered is that while you may not care what others think nor should you, the fact remains that what others think CAN impact your life & limit your choices later down the road. While it may not be right, it is what it is. I’ve also realized what almost anyone with a modicum of intelligence realizes as you get older. The advice we receive from elders when we are young that doesn’t mean much to us then often proves to be frighteningly accurate further down the road, it’s one of the ironies of life. So while many of the young generation scoff at the advice of older more life experienced individuals the truth is what seems “cool” when you’re young seldom does later in life, there are exceptions but not often.

    So I’ll end this here by saying this, to Paul you seem like a very intelligent, articulate person & I’m fairly certain perhaps you may not regret your choices later as you seem to have deep convictions about this but for others I’ve seen respond here I’m not so sure. Just as there have been very judgmental idiots that have shown a lack of intelligence in their responses & that they’re very small minded there have have also been many responses here by those that have ink or are considering it that are not as compelling in their convictions that I think may end in regret later. Live your life as you see fit, do what you feel is right for you but understand that every choice you make in life comes with strings attached, justified or not & choices about permanent things are often permanent in the limitations they create, justified of not. Just my 2 cents.

    • mark says

      Thank you Dino for your heartfelt remarks. I find more common sense in your words than anything I’ve read here so far. My twenty two year old daughter just got a rather large tattoo on her forearm and I have emotionally visited many of the points you make. I respect and credit her for being very thoughtful and reasonable about her decision but have a heavy heart for what I believe is an unnecessary hardship for her future. Things are hard enough in this life. I just hate to see her voluntarily risk even more hardship. That said, I love her and this does not change that. My opposition to tattoos is based entirely on the social hardships you mention.

  26. DS says

    (I don’t appreciate your supposition that I did not read the entire article; in fact I did, but there’s nothing to be gained by arguing this point.)

    What I AM guilty of is assuming that someone who presents a series of bulleted reasons why people get tattoos in an article on that subject would at least be listing the PRIMARY reasons people get tattoos. Of course there are a myriad of reasons, and I understand that presenting them was not the point of your article. But then the theme and title should reflect that point (i.e. don’t be judgmental of people with tattoos.) In any event, my only point was that I don’t know anyone who got a tattoo for the reasons that you listed, so I’m still left wondering why they got them. I am genuinely interested to find out. Yes, I asked them, but frankly, they didn’t have solid reasons either. “It’s who I am” was one answer, and “to make a statement” was another. My only conclusion is that tattoos seem to be a way of outwardly showing an inner part of people.

    Anyway, I appreciated the article but your supposition…not so much. Peace. :-)

    • says

      When I started to reply to you, I realized that everything I could think of writing as a response was already written in my original article. Based on this I assumed you had not read the entire thing and I apologize for that.

      I thought my concluding paragraphs were a fair summary of reasons which were not specifically highlighted in the article. Most people I know with tattoos do actually fall into the categories that I wrote about. To me these were the primary reasons people got tattoos based on my experience at the time of writing the article. In the 2 years since I wrote it I have expanded on my understanding of these reasons and recently posted a follow up article that might be more along the lines of what you are looking for.

      I would never get a tattoo that didn’t have meaning to me, so it’s strange to hear about people who can’t give you a straight answer when asked why they got their tattoo. I would be left wondering too.

      The answer “it’s who I am” might actually fall into my heading of life changing events. I see this as a very broad category and an “event” the way I see it can be something as simple as a decision, meeting someone, changing majors in school, etc… It doesn’t have to be one single cataclysmic event that immediately changes your life forever. Maybe I did a poor job of explaining that, but that is how I see it.

      Making a statement is one reason that I overlooked in my article and it may apply to more people than I first realized.

      I hope you at least got something from my article and can see where I was coming from in my initial reply. Again, sorry for the assumption.

  27. DS says

    The problem is that out of the dozens of people I know with tattoos, virtually NONE of them fit the categories that you outlined. So you tell me–is a little Woody Woodpecker on someone shoulder considered as A) Honoring a lost loved one, B)
    Symbolizing a life-changing event, C) For the love of art, D) To show your dedication to a significant other, or E) Religion/Cultural reasons? Really hard to make a case for any of these. How about the ubiquitous poorly drawn hula girl on someone’s bicep? You did a good job at dispelling some of the myths about tattoos, but didn’t really fully answer the question posed in the title of the article.

    • says

      Please go back and read what I wrote a little more carefully instead of just glancing over the bullet points and you will find that I already answered your questions. Hint: look at the last few paragraphs.

  28. Sarah says

    I came across this thread as I was doing research for an article I am writing about why people get tattoos, and also while people dislike them. Thank you, Paul for the great article it was informative and helpful, and all the responses were a great contrast of opinions I can use. I personally do not have any tattoos, but my brother started getting them last year, and it’s really made me think a lot about them. At first I was really disturbed, and close minded and couldn’t understand why he felt like it was important to get his feelings out there on his skin…but he is my brother, and we’re close so I delved a little deeper. His first one he got I think, kinda to be cool and fit in with some people it’s a small red heart with a K (king of hearts…his name is Ryan which means King) on his wrist. But it was something that really seemed to grow on him, it’s literally a PART of him and it means so so much. He is heart and soul into music, and often expresses himself through it, so a lot of his tattoos are music related. He has some lyrics tattooed on his side(on his right rib), and at first I thought it was stupid and he would regret it later…looking back now I understand it. His love of music, and him being one who finds it easiest to communicate through music, combined with going through several traumatic experiences very close together. It was something he needed. Maybe for someone not inclined to ink, you might right it in a journal, or have a sign made, or something like that, but for him it was a really spiritual and meaningful thing. He did it because it’s permanent because he wears it like a scar on his heart. The tattoo has these lyrics
    “You took it back.
    You ripped my heart out of me when you put it back.
    I’m pulling my hair
    I let you just a million times
    I love you even though it isn’t fair”

    I am telling you this means something to him! It is raw and real and painful and he needed it!
    I don’t have tattoos but I understand the sentiment and thought process now. I once kept letters and things I wrote, and other memorabilia to remind me of something traumatic in my life. It was painful, but I felt like I needed to keep it to remind me what happened, to remind me not to make the same mistake. This happened when I was 14 yrs old…i didn’t feel strong enough to throw it all away until I was 22. Still to this day I remember what happened and feel good that I overcame it, but also that event changed me forever. That’s how it was for him these events changed him and he felt like he didn’t want to forget. So in a way, people with tattoos are sometimes really strong people. It takes a lot of heart to get a tattoo with meaning behind it like that. Judging or hating on someone with a tattoo is the same thing as being racist or hating someone for their religion. Someone’s color, or their religion is a part of them. Their color is part of their DNA of course, but someone’s religion is part of their soul; and for some people that’s what tattoos are. A piece of their soul, and nobody has any right to degrade them for that. Shame on you if you do.

  29. Sonja says

    I can’t believe that people are so judgmental. A lot of these people are trying to sound educated but they end up sounding like a horrible person. First of all don’t even try to assume something that you don’t know. I have tattoos because I was learning the art of tattooing and all who learn need somewhere to practice. I showed true dedication to the work I enjoy. How many pf ypu non tattooed people are lazy?? How dare you think I got a tattoo to show you. How selfish of you. Some people were designed before birth and just because you can’t grasp on to other people’s form of spirituality and their right to maintain themselves however they choose doesn’t give you the right to give a false description o a person with body modifications. Some people need to open a book and get out from behind their walls. There are far too many sheltered people in the world.

  30. Lourens says

    Thanks for clearing up some misconceptions.
    Allow me to reply please:
    1. Tribal Tattoos.
    Frow the following link:
    Tattooing has been a part of Filipino life since pre-Hispanic colonization of the Philippine Islands, tattooing in the Philippines to some were a form of rank and accomplishments, some believed that tattoos had magical qualities.
    This is just one reference.

    I still feel awards should be given by a group and as such mean a lot more. I guess we will just have to agree to disagree on this one, but I respect your opinion.

    2.Tattoo as art:
    Oil is just a particular love of mine and I agree that a good photograph can last a long time.
    I yield to your experience when it comes to different appearances of the tatoo in different light condtions.

    May I raise another issue?
    Most of the Tattoo art I have seen were pictures on the internet and therefore not “the real thing”. So I am speaking on second hand knowledge when it comes to appearance.

    However – a lot of what I have seen in real life was ugly with very bad quality line work and only black as a color. Moreover – I still stand by having seen aged tattoos that are now horrible to see. Somewhere there is a difference between the quality of work mentioned in this blog and what I am seeing on the streets around me.

    I have tried in vain to google aging processes on tatoos. Is there some reference work that has researched the aging on different inks, techniques and the “aging” of tatoos? The biggest reason I disdain tatoos as art is the way tatoos age really ugly into black blobs. Can anyone please explain what is happening and why I am seeing tatoos like that? We are talking 60 year old tattoos here.

    Tatoos sometimes also seem to “bleed” during the tatooing process with a resultant loss of definition on the lines. Does some skin types take tatoos better than others? I have seen new tatoos that are simply ugly because the lack of definition was not taken into account on the scale of the tattoo with the result that fine lines become blurred and small detail turn into blobs.

    The “lazer printer” type quality often seen on the internet seems to be absent from the real life examples I have seen.

    Maybe it is a question of the limitations of the medium? When working with pastel or chalk one expects a certain “lack of definition” and therefore adjusts the image accordingly. Could the problem lie in that tatoo artists often choose the wrong kind of image trying for fine lines when the medium is just not capable of delivering that?

    Else this could be explained by the skill of the artist. Maybe there are very few artists capable of delivering the kind of quality one sees on the internet. Are the rest just not as competent with resultant lack of clarity in the image?

    Speaking about tatoos as art – Tattoos seem to always tend to the “photographic” and high definition. Does anyone doe more impressionistic or even abstract work? I am talking like van Gough, Matisse, Klimt did with paint?

    3. Graves and Commemorating the dead:
    The headstones does age eventually but not quickly. However – I have seen graves go derelict within 2 years as family stop visiting the grave and the weeds take over. Where I live vandalism also contributes to a quick decay of even granite graves. A grave is just not what it used to be…

    So – if a tatoo is the way you prefer…go ahead.
    When I go I would prefer a tree so my dead body can feed a living thing.

    4. The Office:
    People will judge very quickly on appearance. If your co-workers are tolerant you are very lucky! Many offices are not so tolerant and sometimes discretion is the better part of valour.

    I think we all feel there is a time and a place for everything. Just as certain dress codes suit different environments, so should personal adornment also take this into consideration. I like steampunk but will never wear it to a board meeting….There I think we have some common ground.

    In conclusion:
    From the comments on my questions it seems people are put off by the aging of tattoos
    I quote : “The subject of tattoos aging poorly is a point that is brought up quite often by those who dislike tattoos. They certainly will change over time, but not in the way you are describing.”

    Which begs the question : What am I seeing? And why does it look like that?
    If there was some way to scientifically address the real issues of skin types and aging, Tatoos could go a long way in gaining a wider acceptance. Seeing is believing and unfortunately a lot of people have seen those ugly black things on old people and therefore believe that tatoos are to be avoided.

    Thanks for the feedback!

    • says

      I don’t have a lot of time, but I want to address the tattoos as art point. The vast majority of art that is seen in the world is substandard. For every artist out there creating masterpieces, there are thousands more who try and fail. The same can be said about tattoo artists and what you are seeing is a representation of this substandard quality work. If you were able to peek into the homes of a cross section of the population, I would bet you would only find a very small percentage who own high quality oil paintings. Why? Because good quality art work is expensive and a poster or print will satisfy most people for a fraction of the cost.

      The fact that you have only seen photographic looking tattoos proves to me that you have not been exposed to very much tattoo art at all. Many tattoos are abstract and lend themselves to aging far better than those that try to reproduce a photograph. My fiance has a tattoo that does not contain a single solid line, but instead is made entirely of layers of shading. Before the techniques were discovered that enable the fine shading and detail you see today, tattoos had to be big and bold with thick black linework. Things have changed significantly since the days of navy tattoo you see that have since transformed into blue-black blobs. People also didn’t have an understanding of how to care for tattoos. Sun exposure on a new tattoo can cause serious damage, as can too much or not enough moisture during the healing process.

      Out of the tattoos you have personally seen that look terrible today, how many of those have you seen when they were new? It is quite possible that you are just seeing poor quality work. Poor quality work will start at a lower standard and on top of that will age less gracefully. The quality of the ink used as well as the technique used has a huge impact on how well a tattoo will age over time. Most people do not have a good enough understanding of the tattooing process to realize how big of a role technique plays. Going too deep or too shallow can have detrimental effects on the tattoo which can lead to scarring, bleeding or blurring of lines, uneven or patchy shading, etc… I am not a tattoo artist and can’t really go into more detail, but I think you should get my basic point.

      My tattoos are very bright and colorful and the work I had done nearly 3 years ago looks identical to my more recent pieces. The brightness of color may have faded slightly, but still looks brighter than most tattoos I see out there. Tattoos can also be touched up as they fade. I have a good friend with tattoos covering a significant portion of his body. He recently had some of his older work touched up and I was amazed at how just a few minor touch-ups can make a faded tattoo look nearly new again.

      One final point I want to make is that tattoos are personal choices. No matter how bad you think a tattoo look, if the person with that tattoo is happy with it, that really is all that matters. Just like you may dislike the artwork someone has on their walls in their home. It’s their home and if that artwork is appealing to them, who are you to tell them any different? I just have a hard time understanding why people can be so against a particular form of art that they personally don’t like. I may not like a particular style of painting, but I don’t go around telling people they shouldn’t hang it on their walls. Walk the streets of NYC for a day and you will see people with an extremely broad range of styles and looks. Some of them will be appealing and others may be appalling to you. But the person walking directly to your side may look at those same people and have the exact opposite reaction as you. That is the beauty of the world we live in and things would get boring very quickly if everyone was attracted to the exact same things and we all started to shift our looks towards those ideals.

  31. Julia says

    When people ask me why I get tattooed, I tell them because I love the beauty of a tattoo. I love the art, and that it does make me feel beautiful. What’s so bad about that?

    If they get defensive (like a *few* others who have commmented on this post) I tell them that the only difference between someone with tattoos and without tattoos is that people with tattoos don’t care whether others have tattoos or not – which I have always found to be true. If having tattoos makes me a more open minded, accepting person, I’m game.

  32. Lourens says

    I am not an “inked” person, so please take what I say with a pinch of salt if you are. This is just my personal response. To those of you who are inked, I would like to raise the following issues and would appreciate some discussion:

    1.In ancient times a tattoo was often given as record of some deed done. Some people still have tattoos done to record their deeds. I feel such a “record of deed” tattoo is something awarded by a community, not by an individual to himself. For the same reason one does not wear medals one did not earn. Idi Amin was famous for the medals he awarded himself and was universally thought to be a fool for that. I feel that medals and tattoos are earned and awarded by the community.

    2. Some people say that they carry tattoos as an art form. Personally I tire quickly of seeing the same art every day in print form. Paintings done in oils have a lot longer viewability as the texture of the paint causes it to appear slightly different as the light quality changes throughout the day. I have some oil paintings that has been hanging on my wall for more than 10 years now.

    Ink on skin, however, does not carry the same quality as oil on canvas. It presents like a printed poster (when done well) or like a crude children’s drawing(when not done well).
    I feel I would quickly tire of such an artwork on myself or on a loved one. (Or does one change partners as you would the posters on your wall? – Just joking…)

    More – as a “canvas” skin is an ephermal thing. What is a very crisp and well executed design today on a young glowing skin changes over time. It flows, stretches and changes. What looked good then becomes ugly and dilapidated as the skin ages and the body changes.

    Unicorns becomes giraffes and circles becomes oblongs. How sad to see what was a beautiful design reduced to a disjointed ugly thing. And yes – I have seen many such examples. I pity the old men and women who now carry ugly blue-black blobs that used to be things of pride and beauty. Who can guarantee that your Da Vinci of today will still be a masterpiece in 20 years?

    My opinion – as an art form Tattooing looks good for a couple of years and then ugly for the next 40. Definitely not worth it from an art point of view. Pick a better canvas to practice your art.

    3. To honour a loved one? Strange maybe but no stranger than erecting a slab of granite that goes to rack and ruin after a couple of years. I can respect the idea behind that kind of thinking.

    4. Finally – like your favourite sports team, your religion and your favourite food – keep it to yourself in the office. Other people see your neck, arm and hand tattoos more than you do. And they will judge you, however unfairly, if you have dragons crawling from under your collar or out of your cuffs.

    If you are an office worker or have a professional career in mind keep them under wraps. For example – I personally do not want to see a doctor who carries a skull and crossbones on his knuckles.

    In the same way you have to take care what you paste on facebook because your co-workers and bosses will judge you from what they see there too.

    To recap – I am not against tattoos as such, but I have some reservations. My first advice would always be : Don’t.

    Any comments?

    • says

      Thanks for the comment. I’ll try to address some of your issues and I hope your points can start more conversation here.

      1. I cannot find any reference to tattoos being given as a record of a deed done, but even if I could it would not change anything for me. Ancient cultures had many rituals and customs that have no bearing on how I live my life today. I wear my tattoos not as medals, but as reminders of experiences that have changed my life. I don’t need or want anyone else to give me permission or approval to do so.

      2. Art is a highly subjective thing and just because you feel like you would be bored of looking at a tattoo for an extended period of time doesn’t invalidate it as artwork for the wearer. I can argue that tattoos change more radically and more often than oil paintings change with the light of the day. A well placed tattoo will flow with your body. Flexing a muscle or positioning your body in a different way can significantly and instantaneously change the look of a tattoo. Getting a tan can darken a tattoo, moisturizing your skin can make the colors appear brighter.

      You are speaking as if oil painting are the only art form that you deem worthy, but I have a number of photographic prints hanging in my home that I have not become bored of after years of looking at them on a daily basis.

      The subject of tattoos aging poorly is a point that is brought up quite often by those who dislike tattoos. They certainly will change over time, but not in the way you are describing. Tattoos will fade in color, and fine lines will blur. But the ink will not flow. Yes, skin losing some of its elasticity over time is an inevitable part of life that we will all deal with at a certain age. But by the time I am old enough to worry about this I will have gotten many years of enjoyment out of my tattoos.

      3. I sort of agree with you on this one, but have yet to see a slab of granite go to ruin in a couple of years. Just like I have never seen a tattoo only look good for a couple of years.

      4. I don’t know what kind of office you work in, but sports and food are common conversation topics where I work. I do agree that religion can be a touchy subject is is best avoided in the office.

      Tattoos in the work place can be a tricky subject. I will wear short sleeves to work on occasion and have received almost universal positive reactions to my tattoos and have become friends with people who work in my building purely based on our common interest in tattoos. But I also know when it’s appropriate to keep them covered. My basic rule of thumb is if the situation is casual enough that a short sleeved shirt is acceptable attire, then showing tattoos is probably not that big a deal. But in cases where I know I will be meeting with upper management to give project status updates, I tend to dress a little nicer. This nicer level of dress automatically means my tattoos will not be visible.

      My boss and co-workers judge me based on the work that I do and how good I am at my job. Just like I would judge a doctor based on how well he or she can do their job, not based on whether they had a skull and crossbones on their knuckles. I would be willing to bet quite a few doctors out there have tattoos of the Rod of Asclepius, the a serpent-intwined rod, commonly associated with the medical profession. I personally would love to see some ink peeking out from the shirtsleeve or collar of my doctor.

      My first advice is also to tell people not get tattoos, at least not right away. Getting a tattoo can be a life changing decision and they are not for everyone. Anyone who is not 100% sure about what they want and where they want it on their body, should not get a tattoo. If you have to be convinced to get a tattoo, then you should not go through with it. But if you are truly sure about the idea of getting inked, and have gone through the proper amount of thought and planning, a tattoo should be a decision you never grow to regret.

    • Wayne says

      “My opinion – as an art form Tattooing looks good for a couple of years and then ugly for the next 40.”

      and that is why I got my tattoos at almost age 50, given my family history I won’t be around for another 40 years so I’ll get at least 20 odd years out of them ;-)

  33. says

    First of all, very well written post.

    I don’t consider myself “inked” although I do have a few rather large tattoos, all under what most would call normal clothing. My personal views on tattoos on the neck, face, and hands are simply that they can be un-professional. This doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it, but if you’ve got a tattoo of a skull tearing out of your throat and biting your ear, you shouldn’t expect to be the CEO of a fortune 500 company one day (but it’s not impossible).
    The thing that boggles my mind is how wrapped around the concept of “My body is a gift from God,” most of the anti-tattoo crowd are. Well should you believe in God, and that your body is in fact a gift from him then who are you to tell others what they can and cannot do with their gift? Do you not see how hypocritical that is? If you think you’re perfect then good for you. I push myself every day to be better in some way because I’m not insane enough to believe that I’m perfect.
    As you mentioned, every tattoo has a story; some of those stories suck and some are quite phenomenal. I love hearing these stories and certainly don’t have any reservations explaining my own.
    I’m not a religious person. I don’t worship a God nor do I deny the possible existence of “something” out there, greater, lesser, whatever. That does not mean I need to go question every single religious person on their beliefs, attack them with my own logic and beliefs, and feel like I’ve accomplished something in doing so. Live and let live, it’s pretty simple. I can assume all day that you’re a weak person who needs a “God” to make your life less insignificant and religion is a crutch for you and your simple sheep mentality. I do not, however, feel that way about everyone who’s religious. What entitles me to? Nothing. Thus, nothing entitles any one person to impose their own strong opinions about tattoos (or any belief, for that matter) on anyone else. If you don’t like them, don’t look at them.
    Just keep your mouth shut and live your own damn life.

  34. George says

    I don’t get tattoos because I believe that what God gave me (my body) is perfect as it is, and any permanent marking on it or over it is disfigurement, defacement, and defilement. To me, it is spitting in the face of my creator, akin to taking a Sharpie to the Mona Lisa, or spray-painting graffiti over the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel. Because of this belief, it saddens me greatly every time I see someone with a tattoo.

    • says

      I can respect your beliefs and your reasons for not wanting a tattoo on your own body, but not everyone shares in those beliefs. I am a man of science and give full credit to my parents for my “creation”. They are both accepting of my tattoos.

      The Mona Lisa was just a blank canvas at one point in time before da Vinci got his hands on it. The Sistine Chapel ceiling was originally painted with golden stars on a blue sky until Michelangelo was commissioned to repaint it years after its original construction. Do we accuse him of spitting in the face of the original artist, or do we credit him with creating a masterpiece?

      Why should I not be allowed to commission an artist to create a work of art on the blank canvas that is my skin?

      It saddens me greatly every time I see someone allowing their own personal, and usually religious, beliefs dictate what other people should or shouldn’t do to their own bodies.

        • says

          I love it when people resort to childish name calling when they have nothing intelligent to contribute. Thanks for stopping by and giving me a good laugh.

            • says

              Again with the name calling.

              It honestly does sadden me when people use their religious ideals to put down the actions of other people and this goes well beyond the scope of tattoos, but that is a discussion for a different blog. I also don’t buy the argument that tattoos are analogous to the examples you gave and explained why in my response.

              I try to debate by getting people to see things from a different perspective. Some of my examples may stretch things a bit, but i do this to make my point very clear. Do I think that a tattoo can ever be compared to the work in the Sistine chapel? Absolutely not, and you would have to be a moron to honestly believe that was the way I felt. I feel that presenting my argument in the way I did helps put a twist on the subject that you may not have considered. If you had read any of my previous responses to others, you would have known this was coming from a mile away.

              A pseudo intellectual argument should be easy to tear apart, but you chose to instead call me names and tell me to go fuck myself. I called you out on that and you resort to the same tactic, this time with some bullshit psychiatric analysis thrown in for good measure, and again tell me to go fuck myself. I would really love to know how you think that type of response was warranted?

              If you don’t like something I said, tell me why, or counter my statements with something meaningful. Telling me to go fuck myself is just an obnoxious and juvenile cop out and one that is usually reserved until at least a few back and forth exchanges have taken place. What was it that I said to make you stoop so low so early in the game?

          • Jalena says

            First of all George you calling yourself a christian and then telling someone you dont even know a prick and to fuck off isnt very christian like at all. God calls us to love one another no matter what. not to tell them to fuck off. I also am a christian and i have tattoos and peircings. im not saying im a perfect christian at all. i curse and have tattoos and peircings and God has given me a beautiful body and great health. But no where in the bible does it say not to get tattoos yes it says you body is a temple and to honor it but i personally like art on my “temple” just like you dont want art on your “temple” people are different using your religion as an excuse is not right in any shape or form and not christian at all. God also calls us not to Judge and by you judging people because they have tattoos isnt right at all either. dont push your beliefs on others just because you dont believe in tattoos. just because someone has tattoos doesnt mean they cant honor God. God loves everyone wether they have tattoos, addictions, peircings, sins, he loves everyone no matter what theyre backround. You are making a sad example for christians. This is not what christanity or our Father is about. As for Paul this article was great and i enjoyed reading it.

          • George says

            I haven’t been back here in a while because I really don’t give a shit what you think, but it appears that I have somehow subscribed to this topic. Oh well, I have a minute, so why not…

            I must say that I don’t have a problem having a good discussion with an intelligent person, but once I realized that wasn’t going to happen here, I said fuck it, I told you to fuck off, and I left. Now, I have a little more patience to tell you why you suck so much.

            You seem to expect others to be tolerant of your views, but you are intolerant of others. I respect your right to defile your body in any way you see fit…all I said is that it made me sad to see it. It was then that you showed your intolerance by attacking my opinion.

            Your spew: “It saddens me greatly every time I see someone allowing their own personal, and usually religious, beliefs dictate what other people should or shouldn’t do to their own bodies.”

            Instead of responding with real human emotion, as I did, you mocked me. This showed me two important things: (1) You are afraid to have a real human interaction, and (2) You have no idea what discourse is, much less the capability to participate in it.

            You only pretend to be honest, tolerant, and objective. You are anything but. I hate to repeat myself, but hey, I really think I need to here – go fuck yourself.

            • says

              The only reason that I take the time to respond to comments on this blog is because I am interested in genuine discussion and have had dozens of such conversations, none of which ended in being told to go fuck myself. That was until you showed up and managed to say it 3 times in 4 comments. Even after taking a month long break from responding, you still come back with the same go fuck yourself attitude as I continue my seemingly futile attempts at explaining myself in hopes of having a meaningful dialog.

              My initial reply to you addressed every point you made, one at a time, and I already explained that response in my third reply to you, right after being told to go fuck myself for the 2nd time. Taking points that someone has made and countering them with your own thoughts and perspectives is what most people call discussion, debate or discourse. All I did was point out the fact that not everyone shares in your belief system and offered a different perspective on your examples of spitting in the face of your creator. Rather than responding, you took my reply as an attack on your opinion and resorted to name calling.

              I just don’t see how you can accuse me of attacking you when practically everything you have written here has been a direct attack on me and completely unrelated to the topic of why people get tattoos. Calling me a prick was an attack. Calling me a pseudo-intellectual and insecure was an attack. Accusing me of pretending to be honest, tolerant and objective was an attack.

              The reason I “spewed” the statement about religious beliefs is because I don’t feel like religious based arguments add anything relevant to a discussion like this given the fact that there are people of many different faiths reading this blog. There is a difference between someone being intolerant of your views and disagreeing with them. What you did would be like a Hindu commenting on a blog post about steak and saying how sad it made him to see people eating beef. My response was along the lines of saying “Your beliefs and practices are perfectly fine, but have no place in this discussion because we do not share in your faith.” An intolerant response would have been, “I don’t care what your beliefs are, and you should just eat beef like the rest of us or keep your comments to yourself.”

              I’m also not sure where you are getting the idea that my responses do not contain real human emotion because I put thought into every word written on this blog. Everything I say here is genuine and real. I don’t get angry and I never sensor the opinions of people I disagree with, but will always sprinkle some sarcasm into my replies just to keep myself sane. This has worked very well for me and an overwhelming majority of people who visit this site can see and appreciate the amount of time and patience that it takes to have kept this going for so long. It would have been easy to delete your comments or throw my hands up in the air and start cursing you out, but that just isn’t in my nature. I will continue to take the high road no matter how persistent you are with your insults and accusations. Just know that you are the reason why an intelligent discussion cannot occur here, not me.

  35. EuroRash says

    I’d have to say that personally I don’t like them, and especially don’t like them on women. But it could depend on your experience with them (seeing whom they’re on) or what age you are. I’ve grown seeing them on mostly criminal types; such as bikers and gang members, and military personnel that were too drunk at the time to remember.
    But now days it’s different. It’s like a fashion statement combined with new ways of wearing jewelry with body piercings. Although I’ve been in the military and have known criminals, both with tats… believe me they put a lot of pressure on me to get one… and I always preferred to not to. Yea some look OK if done well and in moderation, but I think it’s a shame seeing a beautiful woman with even one and worse too many.

  36. Jen Poynter says

    Hi Paul,

    I have never really felt compelled to comment on a blog before, but having spent the best part of a day reading through your posts and their subsequent comments, I wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your writing. You are clearly a very open-minded and thoughtful person; your calm and measured (and often deliciously sarcastic) replies to some readers idiotic ramblings are quite brilliant and I shall certainly return to read more in the future.

    Many thanks for the entertainment on a rather rainy day in England,


    PS. I’m not going to tell you whether I have a tattoo or not, as really, why on earth would it be relevant? ;-)

    • says

      Thanks for the kind words, Jen. Responding to comments on tattoo articles on the web was what originally inspired me to start this blog and I find the back and forth dialog more interesting and enjoyable than writing content. If I got angry every time someone posted something stupid on the internet I would have gone insane a long time ago. I do my best to keep my composure and conduct meaningful debates with a fair amount of sarcasm thrown in for good measure.

      It’s great to hear that my style of writing and responding is appreciated.

  37. theonlywayoutisup says

    I don’t have a tattoo but I’ve always wanted one. People with tatoos have courage with all the negative, close-minded people out there to try and beat them down. Some girls have tattos to be sluty, some guys have tattos to look cool but to put everyone in the same category is wrong and idiotic. It just as bad as racism or homophobia, or just thinking your better than someone because you don’t do something. People say you get tattoos to join the crowd even when they are joining the crowd thats saying tattoos are bad. People should just grow up and leave others alone

  38. MJM says

    I don’t judge people who have tattoos, but quite honestly I see them as vandalism of the human body. No better than destructive graffiti. Sorry.

  39. Wilberto says

    Paul, “Got Cognitive Dissonance?” We can take information that is in direct contradiction to our own belief system and assimilate it (realize the validity and merge it into our own belief system) or discriminate against it (push it away and categorize it as irrelevant). Your way of discriminating threads is to “glaze over” the posts and give it no real rebuttal or answer. Tattoos are beyond child-like. Really? Tattoos? Goodness. So wearing a clown suit in church is not wanting attention. And when someone asks why you are wearing a clown suit in church, since obviously its not attention seeking, its cool to say, “look dude, im not asking for attention, but since you asked, ill tell you…” My six year old son just yesterday went to a school event where a face painter painted spiderman on his face. Upon my arrival he excitedly exclaimed, “Look daddy, I have spiderman on my face!” To which I replied, “Cool deal! Looks good!” He’s a kids who wants attention, so I gave it to him. Adults with tattoos, who apparently are lacking, defaulting to my son’s behavior, and cant elicit adult attention through adult-like attributes, good gravy.

    People having kids for attention equated to adults getting tattoos for attention? Are you serious? That is your analogy? Weak, weak, weak. I never met a person who said they wanted a child for attention in public. Never mind the time, energy, love, money, attention, and sacrifice required to raise a child, as long as parents get attention….. That is so dumb. Tattoos = attentions attempts, period. I don’t care what lame excused are conquered up on this web site, its is so child-like. That is why so many feel the need to justify their tattoos. See anyone trying to explain and justify their PHD?

    In addition, everything is explained in the above threads from being disparate for attention, how those with tattoos are not feeling any special pain than anyone else (we all experience pain and loss in life), to how no one really knows how to interpret tattoos since it has meanings with the spectrum of killing to love, how we all go well out of our way to communicate to people who we are, to how in your mind its ok to judge a robber in a bank wearing a ski mask but not someone with a large tattooed spider on their face.

    And don’t give me this crap about not judging. You admitted if you owned a very respectful marketing firm that you would not hire a very public CEO whose face was completely covered with a spider tattoo. So yes, we all judge. Perhaps in varying degrees. You judge those with tattoos that fall into your particular parameter of unacceptable tattoos, and that is just fine. I happen to think all tattoos are a sign of weak and pathetic self hate. Why is it ok for you to judge tattoos that you deem judge-worthy but others cant judge basic tattoos without being viewed as mean or judgmental. If you don’t want to be judged, don’t get a tattoo, geez.

    • says

      Wilberto, I just love the irony in your posts. You ask me about cognitive dissonance while stating: “Tattoos = attentions attempts, period. I don’t care what lame excused are conquered up on this web site, its is so child-like. “ You are completely ignoring what everyone with tattoos has to say on the matter because your own opinions won’t allow you to believe anything to the contrary. You do not have any tattoos, so how could you possibly be in the heads of everyone who does? Not ALL tattoos are attention attempts, period. I know this through both personal experience and through conversing with other people with tattoos.

      I’m not sure what you mean when you say that I “glaze over” the posts here when I am actively responding to comments on a post that is well over a year old. I have also addressed every single one of your comments almost line by line. If you read back through our comments back and forth, it is pretty clear which one of us is glazing over and which one is making a real attempt to respond.

      You call my arguments weak, yet continue to go back to the ridiculous clown suit analogy. Did you ever stop to think that the man in the clown suit has a valid reason for dressing like that in church? Let me finish your statement.

      “Look dude, I’m not asking for attention, but since you asked, I’ll tell you. I was just at a child’s party, because I dress as a clown in order to supplement my income and be able to feed my family. A child fell in the pool and was rushed to the hospital after being underwater for 3 minutes. The only thing I could bring myself to do was come to church to pray for that child’s safe recovery and didn’t have time to stop and change clothes. So, in fact, I am not here to seek attention. Thanks for asking!”

      Your own cognitive dissonance is preventing you from seeing things from a different perspective. Your son getting his face painted at a party was done because that’s what kids do at kids parties. It’s a fun and temporary way for a group of children to interact with each other and really is not comparable to an adult getting a tattoo.

      You keep assuming that people with tattoos are lacking something and not capable of eliciting adult attention through adult actions. This, again, could not be further from the truth. Good gravy?? Your comment gets less comprehensible as you go, but I will continue to attempt a response.

      After accusing me of “glazing over” posts, you pick out a single word from my example of things people do for attention and rant about it for an entire paragraph. I never claimed that people have kids for attention and never equated having kids with getting tattoos. What I said is “People brag about their children, pets, cars, homes, clothing, jewelry, etc… “ You picked out a single word and zeroed in on it while ignoring everything else.

      I am so glad that you chose to use a PHD to help support your argument, because if you bothered to search you could easily find plenty of people out there trying to explain and justify their PHD’s.
      I think my favorite is #2.
      “Some people have the need to feel that they have achieved something in life, and want this achievement to be acknowledged officially. Being referred to as “Dr” fulfils that need on a daily basis. Such people study for a PhD to get the title. “

      My reasons for saying that I would not hire a person with a spider tattooed across their face to publicly represent my company have nothing to do with my own judgment of that person. It is based on the fact that there are people like you in the world who may be a potential customer of mine. That is the reality of business. You need to cater to your customers, not to your own personal needs.

      I understand that we all judge people to a certain extent. It is human nature and there is no way to be absolutely free of any judgments. My particular parameter of unacceptable tattoos mimics what society in general feels is acceptable. People fear things that are different. Many years ago any person with a visible tattoo stood out from the crowd and was considered a deviant. That just isn’t true in today’s society where you can’t walk 50 feet without seeing someone with a tattoo.

      What I don’t understand is how you think you can know so much about someone based on their choice to get a tattoo. You seem to divide the world into 2 sets of people: tattooed or not tattooed. But you fail to acknowledge that there are different degrees. If you honestly believe that every single one of the millions and millions of people with tattoos are just wallowing in self hate, I truly feel sorry for you. If you cannot understand that tattooing your entire face is drastically different than getting a discrete, hidden tattoo, then I see no need to discuss the matter any further.

  40. JS says

    I agree Paul.
    Wow, the last time I remember someone being this angry, was a homophobic who was secretly gay. For God’s sake, just get a tattoo, and let the healing process begin.

  41. Whitney says

    I found this thread very interesting. As a young person with tattoos, I’m always interested in the stigma and the motivations behind why people get them. I find it interesting that people who have so much hatred towards tattoos universalize the people who own them. To me, that follows typical hate-speech and stereotyping based on physical appearance. Yes, they’re a choice, but like other ‘choices’ in history that ostracized people from the “normal’ population (witchcraft, cross-dressing, motorcycles, etc), I would hardly think tattoos can be so widely conflated with deviancy and negativity. If we judge the whole batch on the few burnt cookies, Do we throw out the whole batch? (chances are you’d still eat at least one… ;) But I know people aren’t cookies, but my point is their subjective, not subversive. Expressive, not deviant. At least, the many people (of a wide spectrum of ages, genders, races…) whom I know with tattoos are not gangsters or criminals.
    I find the art aspect of tattoos to be a big motivator for myself. As an Art History and Gender Studies student, i find the stigma and judgments placed on those with tattoos to be coming from an unnecessarily hostile place. People get them, or choose not to, for a wide variety of reasons. If judging someone based on a choice they made for their own body somehow enriches your own life, then by all means take pleasure in it. I hope it validates your own self-worth and physical superiority over those with tattoos. I’m not trying to stir the pot or encourage a banter, you do you thing, I’ll do mine. I promise not to make anyone who doesn’t have tattoos get one, as long as they promise not make me think less of myself because I made a choice to do something they might not do (also known as the definition of judgment?).

    On a separate note, I’m curious about the consumerist aspect of tattoos. For those of us who have them, how much of a factor was the cost in getting one? In getting more? I like to compare it, on a purely consumer basis, like buying a fancy car, purse, what have you. Tattoos are not another form to show personal identity? Value? Status? Spending money on tattoos is an investment! Aesthetic judgments aside, if we looked at tattoos simply for their cost value (yay consumer culture), then seeing someone with a large piece is monetarily impressive n’est pas?

    • Vincent says

      The cost in getting my chest piece was not really a factor in me getting the tat. I called up the parlor, they gave me a price, and I just saved up for a pretty good while. I really wanted the tat and so whatever the price was I would save up so that I could really afford the tat, and pay my bills at the same time. If someone truly loves the artwork, or really wants to show a memorial to a loved one, etc. cost would not make a difference. Just save up until you can really afford the tat.

  42. Erica says

    Paul – I have to say you must be quite the idealist. The way you continue to address absurd comments with lengthy responses to explain your point of view — I am amazed at your stamina, for starters!

    Secondly, you write beautifully! A pleasure to read both your post and your remarks to readers.

    I’ve always wanted a tattoo, but I know I’ll never get one. As a kid, my parents had to make a rule that I could rearrange my furniture no more frequently than once every 4 months. I get bored too quickly and change my mind so often (I’ve painted my bedroom countless times) that I wouldn’t trust myself to choose something that I wouldn’t get bored off soon enough.

    Kudos to you on your passion and your willingness to put up with narrow-minded idiots.

    • Amy says

      Hi Erica,

      First of all, I agree with you! I cringed after the first comment and didn’t read any others, until yours. I just wanted to thank Paul for his insightful post. Then I wanted to tell you that it took me a few years before I officially decided to get any of my tattoos. Mine are well thought-out – I see you have a new baby. Maybe you will have a name on your skin very soon? :)

  43. says

    Tattoos are about getting attention and personal vanity. A person can feel strongly about something or someone without getting that thing or person tattoo’d on their skin. There is no advantage of getting something you care about very much tattoo’d on your body other than for aesthetic purposes or to draw attention to yourself. I’m not putting a value judgment on those two things, I’m just saying that’s the way it is.

    In my humble opinion, memoralizing someone who passed away with a tattoo seems to draw more attention to the person getting the tattoo than the person it was about. While I understand memorials are for the living, why a person would need to have a memorial on their skin for others to see once again speaks to attention seeking and vanity. A person can carry a memory, a love and a reverence for the departed without the tattoo.

    I do not have any tattoos. My girlfriend has 3. They are all mostly hidden, one on the side of her breast one of her butt cheeks and one behind her ear. She got them when she was in college and struggling with identity forming and mental health. She’s a very intelligent, successful and caring person. But when she got the tattoos they were a cry for attention, whether they were hidden or not, people close to her (particularly those intimate) would know about them.

    Generally if people are emblazoning ideas or metaphysical pieces of themselves on their body for others to see it’s a way to advertise to strangers who they are. And the reason you do this is to get attention, in the same way a company will put an image on a billboard on the side of the Highway.

    Sure, there is an artistic element to tattoos, and a traditional element to SOME tattoos. And there are far worse things to be interested in and in my opinion tattoos are pretty much harmless, but let’s at least be honest about this; tattoos primarily are there to draw people’s attention and to enhance the appearance of the recipient of the tattoo.

    • says

      I have 10 tattoos, none of them are memorial tattoos. Here we go again making an assumption about why a person put a tattoo on their body. People put them where they do, so they can see them, so they have a daily reminder. Until you can put yourself in another persons skin…skip the assumptions…because….when you assume…you are making a judgment…and judging others is wrong. How about we all just stop making general assumptions about a person…here is an idea, how about you walk up to a very large person, covered in tattoos, and you him your theory on why he has tattoos all over his body…you may or may not walk away from that conversation. Just saying:)

      • says

        1. My point was not that people get tattoos to memorialize someone. So, you missed the point entirely. I have to wonder about your reading comprehension skills. The memorial tattoo was an example of why I thought people got tattoos, which was vanity and getting attention.

        2. I would gladly go up to ANYONE with tattoos and if the conversation came up of why people got tattoos I would offer my theory. It isn’t hateful, it is the truth as I see it. I am not afraid to share what I believe is the truth even if other people aren’t willing to face reality because it may not be pleasant.

        3. Are you telling me large people with tattoos are violent? Why wouldn’t a large person with tattoos be able to have an intelligent conversation and rebutt my claims without resorting to violence?

        4. You said not to make assumptions and then you made an assumption that large people with tattoos would result to violence.

        5. Think before you post. You may not agree with me, but I put in about 10 times as much thought into my post than you did into yours. Stop wasting my time.

  44. Ricky Gonzales says

    One that gets a lot of attention “A LOT!!!” is my neck tattoo. So when I read one of the comments saying would you get a tattoo even if no one else could see it. In my case YES I WOULD! See unlike my wonderful ex who did keep the ashes of our still born baby girl, I had nothing but the little memory of feeling her kick inside of the womb. When we found out we lost her due to a nuchal cord being wrapped around her neck 6 times I decided to remember her by wrapping her name around my neck with a little halo. Even if no one could see this it would still remind me of the little girl I would have given the world to. When I see people staring at it and they give me a “Boy that guy is a F***ing idiot look” I can do nothing but realize how much they don’t know. The thought of suicide and the pain that came with my loss. When I got the tattoo I felt better, no more dreadful thoughts and the pain seemed to go away faster than time would be able to heal. I didn’t get it on my neck to get attention, but for the reason stated above and that reason alone. When I do tell them I see changes in they way they look at it. It’s just one of those don’t judge a book by its cover things. I mean yeah I do have tattoos that are just for the love of art, but even these are not a sign of me being uneducated or idiotic. I happen to be a military vet on top of studying to be a Digital Graphic Designer. I believe that having a tattoo visible is a lot better than showing people how shallow and cruel you are any day of the week. Thank you Paul for your amazing article.

  45. Wilberto says

    That was a weak answer. But the reason tattoos are treated so differently than other forms of attention is because like someone posted above: “tattoos are a pathetic overt attempt to elicit attention… everyone one wants attention and wants to feel important, but there are healthy ways to get attention and there are gimmicks… and don’t act like you all wouldn’t judge someone with a tattoo. if you were going to hire someone in your marketing firm who had a giant black widow spider covering their entire face, would you hire them? no, you would judge them just as this opinionated thread is judgmental. its a matter of what one thinks is an appropriate standard which comes in varying degrees…” You even admit that some people with certain tattoos located in certain places have gone too far or too extreme. Not sure who made you the God of acceptable and unacceptable tattoos.

    In addition, your statement about why, for example, combing your hair or wearing ear rings for attention and having a tattoo for attention is treated differently is like asking why a simple tattoo on ones’ shoulder for attention is any different that someone who wears bells on their ankles, holding a neon sign, and wearing a clown suit.

    • says

      My weak answer also came with a question that you chose not to answer. Why is it child-like to respond when someone asks about my tattoos? Why is it not ok for me to be excited to talk about them, when it’s perfectly acceptable to do the same when asked about so many other things in life. People brag about their children, pets, cars, homes, clothing, jewelry, etc… But you make it sound as if once they start talking about tattoos it automatically makes it child-like attention seeking behavior I fail to see the logic and since you made the statement, I was hoping that you could explain yourself.

      Regurgitating someone else’s statement that “tattoos are a pathetic overt attempt to elicit attention” is not an answer to my question. Why is it so hard to understand that while SOME tattoos are intended to elicit attention, it is not always the case.

      Nobody made me the god of acceptable and unacceptable tattoos, but my statements are based off of what I see in society on a regular basis. I see people with tattoos every single day of my life, but have yet to encounter a single person with a giant spider tattooed across their entire face. You obviously have a grasp on the concept that all things in life come in varying degrees, but you fail to be able to apply that idea to tattoos. If you think that a black widow face tattoo is the same as a little bit of ink peeking out from under a shirt sleeve, then I see no point in continuing this discussion any further.

      • says

        Hello Paul. Here is my take on this. Everyone is different and unique. How about we stop judging the cover….and see what is inside the book. I find tattoos beautiful and addictive:) If someone does not like them…I do not judge them. I do not call them names, or judge their character. The ones who bring in the Bible…should remember this…Judge not, least ye be judged! I am productive, tax paying….never jailed…never done drugs..a good Mom…a great friend…and I have 10 tattoos….I will never judge the book by it’s cover…I love all people for who they are…not what they look like.

  46. Wilberto says

    (I copied and pasted this post from above just to say I like the line about people getting tattoos for instant social status elevation… its so true. The only time it would be ok for someone to get a tattoo is if they knew they were getting it for this reason and were still ok with it. Just admit you got it for attention and it would then be ok. I see it all the time, someone with a tat is asked what it is or means and the tat person smiles and explains away, so child-like…)

    “I think the problem is that whether one likes it or not, history has has shown and made a strong connection between tats, bad people, and bad behavior: gangs, criminals, show offs, etc. For example, some people have tats that represent how many people they have killed, and some have tats to represent how loving they are. Tats have varing symbolic meanings. Its not like wearing a chain with a cross around ones neck that only represents Christ. I mean Ive never met anyone who saw someone with a cross around their neck and said they must be a criminal. But tats are different. And I understand trying to change societies negitive view points on those with tats, but I dont think this will happen because too many tats represent too many bad things. And most people cannot tell them apart. Heck I could not tell if a tat meant you are a gang member or an activist. But bottom line, people go out of their way to communicate to others who they are by the clothes they put on just as those with tats go out of their way to say hey, look at me. How are those with tats any different than someone putting a neon sign around their neck everwhere they go that says, “Just in case you didnt know I was a tough guy, I have a sign around my neck that says it.” ‘

    I think this was one of the best explainations of why some people judge tatts. The thing is, we are all in a constant state of making judgments about people without even thinking. We tend to catorgorize people and groups of people based soley on the information provided and at hand. So if you are fat, skinny, tall, or a man wearing a dress, we judge and say, “man that is one skinny dude, man she is fat, or why is that man wearing a dress?” It is an innate saftey mechanism. If one walked into a bank and a guy wearing a ski mask was inside, a connnection would be mad, we would JUDGE him, and get the heck out. So, yes we judge people based on what others have made a conscious effort to go out of their way to present/communicate to us. And yes, tattoos will be judged, that is a fact. If you dont want to be negitively judged, dont get a tattoo, simple.

    And I dont think there is a valid analogy between someone who wants to be presentable by combing their hair or putting on make up and getting a tattoo. Make up and hair cuts are what we call grooming or ADL’s (activities of dailey living).

    And I have to admit, I hate tattoos. I dont only hate them, I depise them. And I do want to appologize for offending those with tattoos, I hate that I hate them. If my kids ever got tattoos, I would feel like a failure as a parent, that I did not love them enough and tattoos are their way of over compensating. It would be as if they had no identity and had to fabricate one. It would be as if there were internal pains manifested through tattoos as an external emotional expression or outcry.

    I also believe people are clueless about why they get tattoos. I think most people are so far removed from even scatching the surface when it comes to self-actualization. And yes, after getting a tattoo, you will most likely become bored of it. Its called desensitization. Our nevous system cannot handle stimuli over load. That is why your new car or new girlfriend does not feel so new after six months. But, it is easier to trade you car in or swap girlfriends than it is to remove a tattoo.

    But bottom line, those with tattoos seem to want some sort of instant social status elevation. We are all running around trying to fit in socially everytime we make contact with other people, its part of the human existance. I think the whole tattoo thing is just saying hey, im cool, look at me, and I cant feel socially acceptable without it.

    So, im sorry that I do have very negitive views towards tattoos, I do feel bad about this at times, im just being honest here.

    And I know that I should not judge those with tattoos, because I have co-workers with tattoos who are incredible people. BUT, I have met them and learned how great they are. The whole thing is, we judge based on info. people go well out of their way to communicate to us, and if tattoos are what one chooses to provide, well dont get mad when you are judged.

    • says

      I have responded to the comments that you quoted above…

      In response to your comment, how is it child-like to respond when someone asks about my tattoos?

      I don’t go around looking for people to tell my story to, but if they ask and really want to know I will certainly oblige. My tattoos were expensive, painful and took many uncomfortable hours under the needle and I am proud of the results. The fact that I may be happy when someone acknowledges them or wants to hear the meaning behind them does not make that their sole or even primary purpose.

      There are plenty of examples out there of things that people do that will get attention from others, some temporary and some permanent. Why should tattoos be treated so differently?

  47. says

    If you did your research and haven’t found a good enough reason to get a tattoo, that simply means that you shouldn’t get a tattoo. I did the same research and decided that I did want tattoos and I am happy with my choice.

    To answer your question, “why stand out by getting a tattoo?” You shouldn’t. In my opinion, you should get a tattoo for your own personal reasons, not for public viewing. I think one of the biggest misconceptions about tattoos is that they are all about wanting to stand out. If that were true, how do you explain the number of tattoos that are hidden from view a majority of the time?

  48. says

    Thank you for the very detailed comment. I will try to reply in more detail when I have more time, but I want to quickly respond to a few points you made.

    Your last statement was, “Though I don’t think you can change the fact that I think they look unattractive.”

    You need to keep in mind that people who get tattoos for all of the reasons mentioned here should also find them attractive. I’m not here to convince people who hate the look of tattoos that they should get one as a memorial. And I’m not trying to convince people like you to find the attractiveness of tattoos. But for someone who does already like tattoos, the reasons above can help provide a deeper meaning to something they already find aesthetically pleasing.

    I take care of my skin and my body and don’t plan on getting “floppy” any time in the near future. Yes, skin will sag in old age, but yours will sag just as much as mine. A quality tattoo will last a long time and not degrade as badly as you might have been lead to believe.

  49. says

    I had a lengthy conversation/argument with my girlfriend tonight about WHY people would even want a tattoo, all of the same points you brought up in the article came up, but she couldn’t really come up with a good reason or example aside from the point.
    Before I begin, I’d like to start of with saying I’m fine with people getting tattoos, and in plenty of cases I think they’re actual really cool. I simply just don’t understand why people get them.
    However, I also think they are incredibly unnatural looking and are quite disgusting compared to bare human skin. Maybe it’s the color or maybe that it’s not a normal part of the human body (I’m picky about piercings too, but that’s unrelated) either way, something about it tickles me the wrong way.

    I can very easily understand that you would like to honor/commemorate a loved one, but why with a tattoo? It’s a kind gesture and shows you cared for that person; however, why is it that you would put that permanently on your skin? They’re dead. They’re gone. They will be dead and gone forever after they’ve died. No one is going to forget it, and if they didn’t know it to begin with, would you honestly like to walk around your entire life explaining to people how your loved one died?
    Plus, as you whither away with age, so will that monument!
    Perhaps this one makes more sense to me than most of the rest of the points. My argument is a little weak.

    The covering the scars idea is cool, and I’ve actually seen some pretty humorous or cool cover ups of scars with a tattoo (tattoos are considerably more attractive than scars). Except,not all events that change your life visibly. I know that I, for one, wouldn’t enjoy being forced to wear a shirt that symbolized my worst break up with someone, and I especially wouldn’t want that on my skin for as long as I live. For that matter, I can’t really think of any life changing event that wouldn’t later be affected by another life changing event, and I wouldn’t want to have to wear all of those shirts symbolizing each event that changed me for better or worse for my whole life. So why would anyone want to have a permanent piece of black skin (or colored skin, but from my experience a lot of people would agree colored tattoos are just gross) around with you showing a change in your life that eventually just leads to another one. Also, as you get older, the life changing events that probably hold much less significance to you would still be on your skin… getting floppy.

    Art. Art is weird. Not everyone feels the same way about the same art piece, no matter what. Perhaps that’s the allure of putting art on your body, I don’t know. However, I DO know that I don’t always have the same reaction to the same image. I also know that I would eventually grow bored of seeing the same piece of art daily for my entire life, even if it did change by getting floppier over time. I mean, unless you’re willing to often get modifications to that piece of art, I think quite possibly it would get boring over time.
    Unless you’re a tattoo artist yourself, and like to showcase your work, I can’t see why this is a good reason at all. There are PLENTY of mediums to show your art on, and many that don’t hide natural human beauty. So why would you destroy that beauty?

    Dedication to a significant other… that one’s kind of just a bad reason in every way…
    Oh, and it gets floppy.

    I don’t think I should try to argue the religion one. Being agnostic, I find arguing for or against religion just ends up putting me in a bad spot. In this case saying “I got it because I believe in ____” is enough to make me not want to know more.
    But seriously, it gets floppy.

    These are just some thoughts, and I wouldn’t mind if someone completely blew them away with some wonderful explanations.
    Though I don’t think you can change the fact that I think they look unattractive.

  50. Lassie says

    I read about tattoos a lot lately because i am doing a research project on tattoos, why people get them and why they shouldn’t. I understand people want to be known and to stand out but why do they do it by having a tattoo? There are many health reason also why to not get a tattoo, they are very drastic and to the point. Based on my research i have not found a good enough reason to get a tattoo. I have acknowledged the other side also in my research so this is not a one sided thing. In fact i have met many good people with tattoos. But they have regretted getting them. So i am not here to argue a point i simply just want to know, why stand out by getting a tattoo? Why get a tattoo? Why should the general public see your tattoo?

    • says

      Grow up, says the man who actually types out the word “gimme”. When telling others to grow up I would suggest not using words that make you sound like a five year old.

      Thanks for the laugh.

    • emma says

      Hi ” Drugssuck’ that’s a mature pseudonym (that means your made up name, I will try to use nice short words for you).

      Some advice from a nurse – not all drugs suck. There are loads of Acne meds for pre-pubesent persons on the market these days. Try a different brand.

      Spotty little irk !

  51. ProTattoo says

    I’m 48 years old and I currently have 2 tattoos. One means something to me the other I just love the look of. I have one on each of my deltoids. Even when wearing a T-Shirt you can’t see them. You only see them if I want you to. I’m not a criminal, I’m happily married and have a very well paying job. They are there for me not for anybody else. I’m aware of the prejudices that’s why I only show them to the people I want to. This blows away the whole attention seeking argument, at least for me. It also blows the young, stupid and drunk argument because I’ve had these done in teh last 5 montths.

    Good article Paul

  52. Edward Martinez says

    First off, WOW. I really don’t understand how people can have such a negative opinion about something that has absolutely zero effect on their lives. I’d like to commend the author on his articulate, intelligently worded responses. My personal stance on tattooing is different from all of the proposed “reasons”. My tattoos are not a cry for attention nor an indication of a lack of intelligence. In fact, I am a single father, a college student, employed, and a combat veteran. My tattoos do not all have some deep personal meaning and they are not at all open to your inspection or opinion. My tattoos are an adventure. The pain of the needle touching the skin is therapeudic. I like to look at the artwork in the mirror before bed. Especially because I cover my tattoos most of the day. I like the absolute freedom of permanently changing the landscape of my body to fit MY perception of the world. In short, if you don’t like my tattoos, don’t look at them, because quite frankly I don’t care for your commentary.

  53. says

    I don’t care how is but.I must comment … I’m 21 and I have 3 tattoos myself , since I was 18 . I went threw a lot in my past so each tattoo is a turning point in my life . I plan to get more because I feel as long I experience the more ink I would want . I consider it my story and my remembrance . I don’t expect anyone to understand because if even you didn’t get any tattoos and explained , people still wouldn’t . yeah I gotta admit , I’ve met a lot of kids who got tattoos for the fuckery and those will be the ones regretting that decision . but there’s a handful of us who do it just like a man who paints potraits , its art , its our life our meaning . tattoos are like the pat on the back for accomplishing something you feel for yourself you’ve done . this article is amazing ! I loved it , and people are ignorant . they always have and always will . just know , anyone who ever disrespected me about it probably has worse shit intheir life that are too afraid to face . the difference between us and ignorant people we learned from shit we’ve done and task the risk of getting something permanent because we’ve had worse . lovee you Paul ! you’re truely amazing xoxo

  54. says

    I just messaged a dating service to ask them if I can exclude women with tattoos. I know attitudes have changed, but my view is so many people have them (been to the beach lately?) that it has become boring and passe. People with them once stood out in a crowd, or came off as somebody as bad or cool. Now even wimps, pusses and nerds have them. Why would I exclude them by profile? It’s not religious or cultural. Or revulsion. I psychologically profile people with these. To me, a person that could be talked into mutilating themselves like that could be talked into anything; i.e., they are weak-willed and will follow a crowd impulsively. They’re more likely to have poor judgement, weak minds, and a substance abuse problem. People wirh a lot of tattoos have also done IV drugs. The needle gives them a thrill. Also, a person with tattoos is 10 times more likely to have Hepatitis. I remember a guy took off his shirt to show us his dramatic back tattoo that looked like a medical chart; all the bones, vertabrae, ribs,veins, arteries, internal organs, etc., in viivid detail. State of the art. Worthy of medical school. I asked him, how could you take that pain? His answer? Heroin. What an idiot, but it makes sense. One dumb thing following another. Like one dumb person following another into the tattoo parlor. Art? An oil painting doesn’t deteriorate into a blob. If you don’t have those things touched up, they end up going bad in about 4 to 5 years. The lines blur, the colors fade. Just a plain, stupid waste of money. I have art that is appreciating, not going bad.

    • says

      Thank you for that extremely uniformed and ignorant comment.

      While you have every right to exclude women with tattoos from your dating pool, your reasons are really off base. You are simply regurgitating many of the false stereotypes about people with tattoos, following the crowd of tattoo haters. It sounds as if popular opinion of tattoos has convinced you that these stereotypes are true.

      First of all, anyone who needs to be talked into getting a tattoo should not be getting tattooed in the first place. I have never been a crowd follower, my tattoos are for me and the decision to get tattooed was made with my own wants and needs in mind. I do not have a substance abuse problem, have never done and do not plan on ever using IV drugs. Just because you know one person who has done heroin that has a large tattoo does not make that the norm. Most people just deal with the pain and split large pieces into multiple sessions spread out over time and maybe pop an Aleve or two before a session.

      Contracting Hepatitis from a tattoo in a legitimate tattoo shop is highly unlikely, and your statement about a person with tattoos being 10 times for likely to have Hepatitis is blatantly false.

      I have plenty of art hanging on my walls at home, but that doesn’t mean I don’t also love my tattoos.

    • says

      Wow…That is the most crap I have ever read in one post. You need to stick to some facts, not the fantasy you have created. I have 8 tattoos and have never used IV drugs in my life.If you are looking to call someone stupid, just look in the mirror!

    • Aoife says

      Lol @ dennis carrier. I also ”…psychologically profile…” individuals like yourself, as ‘ muppets’.

      ‘Muppets’ generally have the intellectual capacity and social charisma of a turd, and, unable to form a logical thought for themselves, afraid to venture beyond the parameters of their tiny minds, finding it difficult to form social relationships, these poor muppets have no oppurtunity to experience the reality of human diversity, nor explore for themselves the mysterious world beyond the swamps of their lives.
      So generations of muppets depend only on the preformed ‘opinions’ that are given to them by other muppets, and taken on as their own to be passed on, ad infinitem.

      This wisdom of the ages seems to instil a feelings of anger and resentment towards outsiders, apparently in your case this includes just about everyone ” …whimps, pusses and nerds…”

      Whatever that is meant to mean, or it’s relevance as a point of discussion, only muppets can ever know.

      Anyway, to me it seems that muppet numbers are dwindling as generations of people become increasingly educated, aware, open-minded and accepting. This is bad for muppets. You need each other for your very survival in this paraniod, disease ridden, decadent world of moral bankrupcy that you percieve as reality.

      What to do? change with the times? try to learn to discern truth from fantasy? question the roots of your predjudice and anger, or analise the source of your misinformation?

      Not a chance, in times of uncertainty a muppet must cling to blind ignorance and share your embarrassingly childish, hateful idiotic dogma with the world.

      Of course, only other muppets will be able to fully appreciate and absorb the pearls of your wisdom, and share your impotent rage, the rest of us just laugh and go back to our jacking up I.V drugs in the back of our pimps car before heading to the beach for a tattoo show and tell with our criminal biker gangs.
      (By which I mean we actually go back to our everyday lives, responsible careers, families, friends, lives enriched by art and beauty and diversity, free of I.V drugs, blood borne disease and insatiable lusts. )

      I’m trying not to strain your lonely brain cell so I will leave it at that, except to say I, like the huge majority of tattooed persons in society live a very fulfilling life, my job involves caring for people with life limiting illness, I am very well educated, have loving family and close and rewarding social relationships.Face to face daily interactions with wonderful people with personal qualities like intelligence, sensitivity and individuality (…I think the muppet language calls these people nerds, whimps, pusses…” )

      I love art, poetry, anthropology, tattoos and tattoo culture, dogs, nature, people in general intrigue me, the only type of person who I would exclude from my metaphorical potential cyber-partner search would be those people like yourself, judgemental, angry, low mentality, intolerant or, as an accronym just for you : Moronic, Ugly, Predjudiced Pig-ignorant, Enraged by Tattoos M.U.P.P.E.T = you

      Good luck with the cyberdating

        • Aoife says

          I do my best lol. One more then that’s it:

          Mindless Unthinking Pervayer of Patently Excremental Twoddle.

          Appologies for my poor spelling, before I got tattooed I was a Doctorate in English literature
          but then ‘it’ happened, I just wanted to get a bit of attention, be a bit bad-ass…

          but, after that inky orgy of contamination, deviance and viral dementia, I’m not as articulate as I used to be.

          Now I have to keep getting tattoos before the tertiary syphillis eats off all my skin, but that’s ok, as long as I have venous access I can stay in my happy place. In a warm shallow pool of…

          In fact I think it’s Dennis Carriers gene pool . It’s cold and not very deep, quite cut-off from the diversity of the main, deeper pools of human life, it seems almost deviod, the few inhabitants appear well adapted, being good swimmers, on account of the webbed feet…

  55. Luke says

    Here is something to ponder. Getting tattooed has gained a lot of popularity in the past decade of so. I wonder what the catalyst was to make this suddenly so popular. Was it a celebrity that got the ball rolling? A singer, an actor or how about rappers? Maybe the government had something to do with it. Are tats just as popular outside of the U.S.?
    Every tattoo is unique. There may be many that come from a tattoo artist’ catalog, but the slight variations in freehand style and the exact placement on the body make them as unique as a
    Everywhere you look there are cameras and there are even satellites that can see you any where in the world. Who exactly is watching you? What better way to keep track of you than
    if you had some unique,one off marking.
    Could tattoos be just another way for “big brother” to keep an eye on you?
    Maybe our society is being manipulated into thiking we want tattoes.

  56. Brooke says

    Okay, I’m a little surprised that this is up and going. In all honesty in my opinion I think if someone wishes to get a tattoo, let them. It does express that person for who they are, not every single person who gets a tattoo or wants a tattoo is crying out for attention. I’m nineteen and I am hoping to get a tattoo on my left upper arm by my shoulder to show respect for my two cousins (who are like my own brothers) who were in the military and fighting over seas. I also wish to get another tattoo to remember my grandfather who past away from lung cancer in 2006 two days before Thanksgiving. If someone wishes to get a tattoo as a memorial reason then that should be okay. If someone wishes to get a tattoo to show honour and respect to someone or something then it should be allowed. If it’s shown as a rite of passage (as it still is in certain places around the world) then that is their right to show their passage to adult hood. Most every single person that I have met that has a tattoo(s) has it for a very personal reason. Like my cousin who does most of his own tattoos does them for major turning points in his life. Like when his son was born he has one for that, for when my grandfather past away, and many more, most of which can actually be hidden by clothing.

    For those who are thinking that it is for a cry of attention or think it is for something like to be a member of a gang, to be rebellious, to say their trash, so on so forth obviously can’t see the fact that the persons who gets the tattoo may be doing it for art, personal reasons, or a rite of passage or anything else personal. Think about the personal aspects of getting the tattoo, not just because you don’t like it at all. Just because you do not like a tattoo doesn’t mean that everyone who does get a tattoo is immature and selfish. I’ve been wanting to get this tattoo for my grandfather since I was underage, and the one for my cousins since about last year. I do not wish to get them to show that I want to get attention because I don’t like having very much attention noted on me at all. I never have since I was little. I was always the quiet type, but also a fighter as well. I defend myself, but am also respectful to all those around me. I’m a nice person with a gentle side, but who is willing to stop what I am doing to help someone else in need of help. Does wanting to get a tattoo on my upper arm make me immature, arrogant, or selfish? In my personal opinion it does not. Many people get the tattoo’s they have for MANT different reasons. Yes, I will be honest there are some people out there who will do most anything to get attention, even sometimes by getting a pointless tattoo, but that does not make every single person that gets one want attention.

    I’m sorry I keep bringing up the same point on the attention thing, I will not lie it does seem like some of the comments (defiantly not all) here are from though who don’t either understand the points of tattoo’s or are to self conceded to do research on the different reasons people get tattoo’s and it really bothers me sometimes at how selfish people can be. I am not trying to push any of my views onto anyone, just trying to get my point out there to others. I think you should do your research before you go and judge someone for something that they do. Someone my go and get a tattoo for a reason you may not necessarily like, or a woman may go and cut or shave her hair off to show respect to those with a disease or showing respect to someone just in general. Does that make anyone different then the next? No, it really doesn’t, but it does when it comes to judging people. Keeping an open mind with people will get you far, having a narrow minded personality and disliking someone or something for what they get done to their skin is being selfish and quite conceded. To keep an open mind with people you will find more people with similar beliefs, and also find more friends. In my opinion being narrow minded and not listening to reason won’t get you very far at all in life.

  57. nataly says

    As it stands right now I have ink going from my wrist to my hip and then some more on my ankles. I am getting them ALL removed, so I feel like I have some good input here, having gone through the process, and then later going through a different kind of change where I would want to remove them. The bulk of my work is spiritual (earth, wind, fire, water) and then I have some that mark a specific time in my life. At the time I got them done I wanted to balance out with a lot of scar tissue that I have, my arms being covered in scars. When people see my scars their reaction is a lot worse than to that tattoos and I was sick of people asking me about my scars. If I continue to cover my scar tissue it will cost me thousands, so I might as well just have the damn scar treatment done, and these are the conclusion I am coming to now a day.
    My tattoos make it so I (almost) only attract guys that like trashy girl. The other type I attract are open minded intellectual types with empathy. But for the majority the guys I attract are, well, trash.
    They are making it impossible to part with some baggage that I have been holding onto for too long by constantly reminding me of certain points in my life. I feel it is conducive to my personal growth to get rid of them because in that respect, they are sort of just like the scars I was trying to hide.
    My other reasons are that I’m scared when I do have kids that the moms of my kids friends won’t let their kids come to my house to play because my tattoos make them question my morals and parenting skills. Or that my kid will be embarrassed to have a mom with a big tattoo on her tit.
    I went from working a night job where tattoos were perfectly acceptable to wearing a white lab coat to work everyday (I’m just a technician, nothing fancy) so it hasn’t effected me too bad (except for all of my superiors hate me because they assume I am a drug addicted prostitute) but I feel like it makes they impossible for me to complete my transformation because as long as I have them I will always see the same thing in the mirror. Even when I put on classy clothes, I see the ink too and don’t feel like I fit the persona I now wish to present to the world. I’m not saying you can’t be classy and have ink, I’m trying to express that I personally find it impossible to break from a certain persona that I just don’t identify with. So I have purchased some fadex and got these strips that they give to burn victims in the hospital to fade scars and can’t wait to just have a clean canvas again.
    I would like to end this by saying I was smoking pot while typing this so if it feels like a pointless rant, the point was grinded up and it’s chemical composition is now in my ash tray.

  58. abozny says

    I read a lot of the posts and found some of them to be quite disturbing. I can’t believe how many judgemental self-reightous people are out there letting all those people with tattoos have it. I find it really sad.

    I am a typical tattoo type person: I am lonely, alone and inside I am screaming for attention (ha ha), but I peronally have no tattoos whatsoever. But I think they are totally cool. They are self-expression, often have lots of meaning and are just plain beautiful.

    Every tattoo is different, and some I like and some I like not so much, just like anything else people wear, be it a hat, a pair of jeans, jewelry or whatever.

    So I bet you’re wondering why I don’t have a tattoo. The reason is that I am just too chicken to get one. I have thought lots of time as to what kind of tattoo I should get, what it should look like and where it should be placed on my body. And that is how I stumbled across this website.

    I know that when the time is right, then I will know what kind of tattoo to get and where to have it placed on my body. Sure, it might take a few more years for me to figure it all out and maybe it will never happen. But that is really nobody’s business but mine.

  59. says

    I have a full sleeve and chest piece.. have small tattoos on my back and other arm… here and there which i hope to get covered or connect together to create a full master piece on my body. Sure people have their own opinions, my parents kicked me out because i got a tattoo done. But the reason i love tattooing is because of the art.. I am an artist, im a musician and most of all I dream of my tattoos before getting them done.. So all of them mean something except for the small pieces but I believe God gave us an empty canvas for us to print memories on our body because in a sense, they are all memories. F*ck what people think, if you care about what others think of you then that makes you their prisoner. Im no prisoner, im my own person and will do my own thing as long as im not harming anyone else.

  60. ani says

    What I don’t understand about tattoos is why people think it’s a good idea to get them. I mean there must be a lot of reasons why someone would want to get a tattoo to commemorate some kind of significant event in his or her life, but there are still many ways to do that. There’s all types of art mediums why choose one’s body. One doesn’t just forget an event that is significant to him or her. I don’t understand why one would DAMAGE his or her body (yes, it is damage) by defiling the integruty of his or her protective barrier against the environment. Skin is an important. A tattoo COULD become a potential health hazzard; not everyone’s body reacts the same way to them. Tattoo inks aren’t approved by the FDA. This is just my opinion, but sometimes I find that the people that have tattoos (and I know very few) find it really hard to move on (in the case where the tattoo is some kind of memorial) because of the constant reminder. I do think tattoos are a fad for most people. What do you think?

    • branwyn says

      Ani, I think you posted without reading any of the actual literature above the comments posted here, since most of what you said e.g about memorial tattoos and the use of the body as a canvas was covered by paul in the main content of the article.

      As re your health concerns around tattoo inks, based on pseudo-scientific investigation, urban myth and a few unfortunate, though not well documented cases of people becoming ill as a direct result of contaminants in tattoo ink…

      In the long term, everything is bad for our health, the sun, not enough sun, air pollution, not going outside enough, the food we eat, the food we don’t eat, all the chemicals, pollutants, pesticides, hormones, drugs, by-products of industry, exposure to microbes, not getting exposed to microbes, cats, dogs, birds, pollen, cold weather, hot weather, driving, etc.

      So you can see why the majority of us are not overly worried about what ill effects tattoo ink may ofr may not have in the dark and distant future, if we are lucky enough to live that long.

      As for why put images on ones body, I may loose everything, end up on the streets with nothing but the clothes on my back and the ink on my pelt.

  61. j says

    Awesome blog homie!! Some people will always judge, is it right or wrong, no, it just is. I pray for em. God gave us choices…to judge, to love, to fear to get tattoos. I love my tattoos and if someone doesnt, than we shall walk the other way. I got most of my tatoos when I got sober…thank God for tattoos and sobriety!!

  62. Christina says

    I see nothing wrong with tattoos. They are just another way of expressing yourself. I mean, my family calls me a rebel for wanting to get one, but honestly just because I do not conform to other’s opinions makes me a rebel? Ive wanted to get the same tattoo for almost three years, it was not a drunken decision. (I dont drink, and my tattoo has to do with this. I’dseen a lot of substance abuse in my childhood, and I do not want to succumb to it, just like everybody else. Because of this, my tattoo is going to be an anchor with a balloon tied to it. There will be a quote next to it saying “I refuse to sink.” on my wrist, to cover up my scars.)
    And also, I seriously do not mind when people judge me over tattoos. If they don’t bother to get to know me because of that, well then that is their loss(: But as an artist, I find tattoos to be perfectly fine and just another way of expression. (I wouldn’t get a tattoo without meaning, but that is just a personal preference.)

  63. Christina says

    I got my first and only tattoo at the age of 40. I pondered the decision for a long time and spent countless hours drawing and designing it myself. I did NOT go out on a drunken brawl one night and pick out some random meaningless tattoo. I also did my homework before picking the artist who it. My tattoo represents the most important thing in my world to me, my 3 kids. It is a heart, but done in a sort of medieval design with a worn scroll going through it. I opted to go for a sepia coloring instead of the traditional colored tattoo. My children’s names are written on the scroll in a old fashion font, fitting with the medieval theme. I resent the many judgmental comments that have been posted here. These people are obvious snobs who have no right to criticize others on tattoos, piercings etc. As someone else stated, you cannot and should not judge a book by its cover and anyone who does should be ashamed of them selves.

  64. Krystal says

    I always hate it when people make petty assumptions about me because I’m inked and I want to get more tattoos. They completely strip my decision and my tattoo of all it’s meaning and slap a label on it. I don’t care when people say they don’t like it, or against the idea of getting tattooed, that’s their right and their opinion.
    But I hate it when people are like “Oh you’re just attention seeking” or “You only got it to stand out”
    My tattoo means a great deal to me, it is something that is mine and mine alone. Something that no one will be able to take from me, something that will always be there and it’s something I can always take pride in. For someone who has had, and still has very little and not a lot of stability in their life this makes it that extra special to me.

  65. Felisa McDonald says

    People get tattoos simply because we want to show our emotions through the beauty of tattoos. I have 2 so far and i plan on making my body( also known as the temple) very decorated because that’s what i believe is right.

  66. Anne says

    I have always thought tattoo’s were interesting, to me, pieces of art. I am an artist of sorts and I have always had a love of art, whether it was music, song, written words, sculpture, paintings or performance art. I love and appreciate art. I think that people who judge are simply avoiding looking at themselves and that is a fact. I do not care if someone has a tattoo or is covered in them, why would I judge someone when I have no clue as to why they tattooed themselves or what the meaning may be or may not be behind it. I also do not think it is up to anyone to decide if the “reason” for getting a tattoo is sensible. If they do it to rebel or they do it to be cool or if they do it to honour someone, that is irrelevant, why does that matter, as long as they they are not offensive in nature? I have known people with tattoos and without tattoos and I can honestly say that they were not different from each other in the sense of being mentally stable, the only difference was the ink on their bodies. Now, the world we live in is filled with judgmental people who fear and despise what they do not understand, that is a pity. I think that if people focused more on what they needed to change in their lives to become more kind and compassionate human beings our world would be a much better place to live in, but that is probably going to take a long time. If you hate something, it is possible you may actually hate some aspect of that that reminds you of what you dislike about yourself on a deeper level. I have pity for you people who judge and who think they can decide what is right and wrong for other people. Each human being has the right to live and look as they please, you do not have to love the look or understand it but you should not judge a person based on the external without knowing who they are internally. I also find that people can not understand the permanence of the tattoo and how much of a commitment it actually is to ink your body and live with your choice of art or statement, I think that the fact that it is permanent is what really freaks most people out. Personally, I find the human body beautiful but I think its more interesting with nice art, in the form of an image or expression, tattooed on it. The only time I have an issue with a tattoo is if it is offensive in nature such as something like an image that would seriously offend someone, ie: hate messages. So, live and let live and next time you see someone with tattoos and are repulsed ask yourself what is it that you see in yourself that you don’t like and maybe try to work on that!

  67. lou says

    I am looking foward to getting a tattoo inked into myskin beautifully, which will trigger back my emotioms and my mindset to this pointof my life. Start of the journey and my young animated minds art. I was born in a christian family where my mom forbids me to get one. Will i regret it when im old? i absoutely will. I wouldnt want my kids or grand kids to think it is ok to ink their skin. do you? However, in my own inteligence, i am at a point in life that no one has experienced which brings me to a differnt view in life as others. What i would like to see for my grand kids are how deep and clear they can see in their own life. I would like them to know that tattoo is from their own understandings. Id like them to have self respect and have their own approval of being inked before they rush into the thought of it to show off for attention. I still have second thought of not getting my body inked. Although i really want to. I hope to have a beautiful wife with a beautiful heart, will tattoo mean anything to her? who knows i am not their yet. Paul and others, i would like to read your intelligence of your judgments as i spoked about myself in my 2nd post. id apreciate it.


  68. lou says

    lets be real. Tattoos, their impressive, cool, socially acceptable. Anyone who hates tattoos is because they don’t want to be seen with it or they just do not get along with their own judgement they perceive from the tattoo. People who get tattoos, well it goes as what as it was explained in the beginning of this paragraph. People look forward to getting tatted beautifully, Does that mean they seek attention? Yes, absolutely. However, its hard to believe that it makes them sound as they are crying for attention, what kind of human being does not seek attention. You see, every human mind is unique but they all work in the same way. Therefore, we are all conditioned differently. Others were conditioned by their parents that tattoos are ignorant, not socially acceptable, bad judgment. Therefore, they “know” nothing more. Their parent’s parents could of been also conditioned the same way, or had an bad experience with thugs and criminals with it. Some head the wrong way and end up putting their tattoo to scare people on what they did or remind their selves to their own “whatever” emotion they received. Those are called thugs and criminals. However, some head the “Different Way” good or bad and beautifully ink them selves for self improvements. More confidence, something to talk about, and could be described as an collection,etc. Though, people may disagree as it was not for self improvement. When most people get old, the tattoo is not in the cool range.
    We as humans are selfish. May not seem like it due to our religion and our beliefs in god and mostly in out age. By means, Lets be brilliant, and use our intelligence for good.


  69. Jill says

    I cant help but agree. And it doesnt matter if thought was put into it or not. It doesnt matter what mental state accompanied the event of the tattoo being placed on the body. Because nobody knows the reason or mental state when your tattoo is flamboyantly screaming at the general public. Out of the 1000’s of people who see it, no one is going to screen you and say, “excuse me, what was your mental state or reason for getting that tattoo, I just want to make sure I approve.” Unfortunately we are all very judgemental so whatever we choose to do, we have to accept the consequences of being judged.

  70. Alex says

    As the writer rightly points out, there are often significant reasons for getting a tattoo, ranging from covering up scars to commemorating a life-changing event or lost loved one. I’ve never had a problem with those types of tats. Where I have an issue is when people get them with no apparent forethought. In the heat of the moment, or because they think it’s cool, or out of rebellion, they get a tattoo, without bothering to think that this will be with them for the rest of their life. Sometimes I think there should be a 24-hour wait period like you have to sit through when you buy guns in some areas. By then you’ve had time to think about it and then you can choose to go ahead. Put another way, I believe that the percentage of people who do not make an educated choice on getting a tattoo is very high; I won’t go so far as to call it a majority because I can’t back that up. I have a similar issue with people who get extreme piercings without thinking of the consequences. For me, I find tattoos tend to uglify the recipient depending on their size and scope (I hate leg tattoos in particular, though I know of people who’ve gotten them to cover burn scars, so I give them slack). And the popularity of the so-called “tramp stamp” tattoo makes it hard to argue against the “slut” judgement some make (just as with those who get their tongues pierced I’m pretty certain they have no idea of the sexual connotation connected to such things). If someone wants to get a tattoo, it’s their body and their bed to lie in; I just wish more folks would spend the time doing research first; I’d start by googling images of people in their 60s and 70s who got tattoos decades ago and see how they’ve weathered.

  71. Pete says

    Thank you for providing this site. I was initially perplexed on how to approach the subject of what a tattoo is and why people have one or many.

    Now I am open to asking a person about their art.

    This will only help me and others in this area.

    It is good to know what people’s initial reaction’s are about body art.

    By focusing on the things that were imprinted in our past about body art, we can look at how and why our parents or guardians decided to tell us why or why not they thought it was a good idea.


  72. John says

    Wow, where do I begin? First, tattoos are not for me! I would never get one under any circumstance. Second, I would never want my children or wife to have one. (and thank God they don’t) Tattoos on a woman is a total turn off for me. It’s human nature to judge people by their looks, and I usually will draw some conclusions right or wrong when I see them on people. Here are some of those thoughts.

    Someone who has a lot of tattoos all over their body, I actually find more interesting than someone who has say a star on their hand. (Which by the way, is totally idiotic no matter what the reasoning.) I can tell when people get tattoos without much thought and that is what annoys me the most. Take a perfectly good looking “lady” and ruin her with something stupid on her foot or on her backside and you can tell she got it just to be cool or go with the trend. I will loose interest in a celebrity the moment I see some ridiculous tattoo on their body. Most of those people will end up regretting it at some point in their lives and it just shows that they have bad judgement. Why would I want to be around someone like that? Now if it fits your persona that’s a different story. Case in point, I see nothing wrong with Kat Von D. It’s here life style. It’s the posers I am talking about.

    Bottom line, I would respect a persons judgement more if they had what I would call a “valid” reasoning behind getting a tattoo and this blog lists many good/valid reasons. When I say “valid” (less likely to regret in the future) because they are permanent and should not be taken lightly. So get a tattoo only if your willing to accept all the consequences that go along with it, including being judged by other people. If it bothers you too much, stay away admire what other people have.

    So all you real hard core tattoo enthusiasts and artists my props to you! You make the world a little more interesting. Everyone else you just make me more annoyed and repulsed.

    Peace out.

    • Dot says

      Thank you for your wonderful post, John. 21 years ago, I met a young lady who’d change my life for the better. Her name was Michelle and we became very close, like sisters. She moved in with myself and our other “sister” Lisa in 1996, and lived with us for the rest of her life. She died in May of last year. She had numerous physical disabilities. Before I met her I was totally oblivious and ignorant of societal issues concerning people with disabilities. Knowing her was a definite eye-opener. I was her primary caregiver and witnessed first-hand all the health struggles she had to endure. Thanks to her, I’ve become a staunch disability rights activist. I wanted to do something that would honour her life and memory in a special way. The memorial tattoo is on my left forearm. It’s a heart emblazoned with an Old English-style letter “M” and a rose is behind it. Her first name is above it and her dates are below it. Yes … it was painful to get, but that pain was NOTHING compared to the pain she endured. I’ve had some negative comments, but by far most of the comments have been beyond supportive. And whenever I feel discouraged in the work I’m doing, all I have to do is glance at my tattoo and I’m encouraged again!!!!

  73. Christian says

    I’d like to start off by saying I have one tattoo. That being said there should be a clear distinction between people who get tattoos that are almost always covered up and people who get tattoos that are clearly visible.

    I hate generalizations, but I have to agree that people who get clearly visible tattoos are seeking attention. They want attention for whatever reason. The date your loved one died is important to you sure, but I don’t know you and I really don’t care so why show me unless you want me to ask you about it.

    Now, people who get tattoos that are generally not visible, they know what I believe is the true meaning of having a tattoo. They don’t need anyone to see it to appreciate what it means to them. Just like me, I have a tattoo of a symbol that means a lot to ME. I don’t need to show it to others for it to have value.

    And therein I think lies the difference between the two types of people with tattoos. Can your tattoo have meaning if only you get to see it? If you can’t say yes to that, there is an underlying problem that you are trying to fix with body art.

    TL:DR – People value tattoos for different reasons, some value them for the meaning, others value them for the reaction they get from others.

    • John says

      Good points, but remember, if anyone sees your tattoo. Judgements will be made. If you can live with that. Good for you. Sounds like your not in the norm on why you got your tattoo. Which makes you more unique than most people who get tattoos that try to be different.

  74. Karen says

    “I think the problem is that whether one likes it or not, history has has shown and made a strong connection between tats, bad people, and bad behavior: gangs, criminals, show offs, etc. For example, some people have tats that represent how many people they have killed, and some have tats to represent how loving they are. Tats have varing symbolic meanings. Its not like wearing a chain with a cross around ones neck that only represents Christ. I mean Ive never met anyone who saw someone with a cross around their neck and said they must be a criminal. But tats are different. And I understand trying to change societies negitive view points on those with tats, but I dont think this will happen because too many tats represent too many bad things. And most people cannot tell them apart. Heck I could not tell if a tat meant you are a gang member or an activist. But bottom line, people go out of their way to communicate to others who they are by the clothes they put on just as those with tats go out of their way to say hey, look at me. How are those with tats any different than someone putting a neon sign around their neck everwhere they go that says, “Just in case you didnt know I was a tough guy, I have a sign around my neck that says it.” ‘

    I think this was one of the best explainations of why some people judge tatts. The thing is, we are all in a constant state of making judgments about people without even thinking. We tend to catorgorize people and groups of people based soley on the information provided and at hand. So if you are fat, skinny, tall, or a man wearing a dress, we judge and say, “man that is one skinny dude, man she is fat, or why is that man wearing a dress?” It is an innate saftey mechanism. If one walked into a bank and a guy wearing a ski mask was inside, a connnection would be mad, we would JUDGE him, and get the heck out. So, yes we judge people based on what others have made a conscious effort to go out of their way to present/communicate to us. And yes, tattoos will be judged, that is a fact. If you dont want to be negitively judged, dont get a tattoo, simple.

    And I dont think there is a valid analogy between someone who wants to be presentable by combing their hair or putting on make up and getting a tattoo. Make up and hair cuts are what we call grooming or ADL’s (activities of dailey living).

    And I have to admit, I hate tattoos. I dont only hate them, I depise them. And I do want to appologize for offending those with tattoos, I hate that I hate them. If my kids ever got tattoos, I would feel like a failure as a parent, that I did not love them enough and tattoos are their way of over compensating. It would be as if they had no identity and had to fabricate one. It would be as if there were internal pains manifested through tattoos as an external emotional expression or outcry.

    I also believe people are clueless about why they get tattoos. I think most people are so far removed from even scatching the surface when it comes to self-actualization. And yes, after getting a tattoo, you will most likely become bored of it. Its called desensitization. Our nevous system cannot handle stimuli over load. That is why your new car or new girlfriend does not feel so new after six months. But, it is easier to trade you car in or swap girlfriends than it is to remove a tattoo.

    But bottom line, those with tattoos seem to want some sort of instant social status elevation. We are all running around trying to fit in socially everytime we make contact with other people, its part of the human existance. I think the whole tattoo thing is just saying hey, im cool, look at me, and I cant feel socially acceptable without it.

    So, im sorry that I do have very negitive views towards tattoos, I do feel bad about this at times, im just being honest here.

    And I know that I should not judge those with tattoos, because I have co-workers with tattoos who are incredible people. BUT, I have met them and learned how great they are. The whole thing is, we judge based on info. people go well out of their way to communicate to us, and if tattoos are what one chooses to provide, well dont get mad when you are judged.

    • says

      This comment was brought to my attention by a more recent comment and I would like to respond specifically to your last paragraph.

      If you have co-workers with tattoos and admit that they are incredible people, then you have real world, first hand evidence that people with tattoos are not all bad. How many people do you know personally with tattoos that are criminals? I would venture to guess that most law abiding citizens know more good people with tattoos than bad. Shouldn’t this evidence be enough to make you think twice about those judgments?

      I don’t know about you, but I learn from my experiences and meeting and getting to know more and more people with tattoos has made me realize that they (we) are no different than anyone else.

  75. Laura says

    I have three tattoos on my lower back…I get bored really easily and if I got a tattoo on an arm, it would drive me crazy after a week :D

    I do like the fact that I can only see my tattoos if I look at my back in the mirror…

    I rarely go to the beach and I only tell people I have tattoos if the subject comes up; sometimes I actually forget I have them LOL

    Why did I get them? I have no clue…not in memory of loved ones, not for religious reasons, not to show them off…I guess I like them…maybe I am shallow…who knows…

  76. Lyndz says

    wow it’s crazy how ppl love to judge and hate ppl who are different from them. I’ve got tattoos on my arms, back, chest and ribs. You’d never know it though cuz my clothing covers them up. I’m not a badass, loser, criminal or some psycho. I’m a paramedic. I’m the one ppl call when they’re hurt in a car wreck, or when their loved one isn’t breathing. I do my best to save ppl I’ve never met.
    Anyone can have a tattoo anywhere they feel like putting it and of whatever they want. We all have our reasons for getting them. Those that judge us know nothing about us. It’s sad that ppl are still so narrow minded but I guess there will always be those kinda ppl in the world.
    I saw this quote once and it stuck with me. “The difference between tattooed ppl and un-tattooed ppl is that tattooed ppl don’t care that you don’t have a tattoo”

  77. Greg says

    I dont understand why there has been talk that those with tattoos get them just for themselves, and are not trying to show them off or are not going great lenths to be noticed. From what ive seen, tats are normally placed on arms, legs, necks, faces, and not on the bottom of feet.

    • says

      Obviously the tattoos you see are the ones in areas that are highly visible. Do a Google image search for “tattoos on bottom of feet” and you will find hundreds of examples. You have no idea how many people are walking around with tattoos that are normally hidden from view.

  78. Kathy says

    Have read with interest the comments on tattoos as i am trying to understand why people do this. My sister inlaw loves them and hardly has space left on her body for more. I personally don’t like them and said I would never get a tattoo but unfortunately, due to having radiotheraphy, had to have 3 tattooed marks put on my body. I do not judge people with tattoos, it is personal choice, you either do or you don’t have them.

  79. JIMMY says


    • says

      Your follow up comment is ever more amusing than the first. I’m not worried about you writing in all caps, just pointing out the fact that it is extremely annoying and I considered deleting your comment for the sake of my readers.

      This post is about why people get tattoos and you came here to rant about the “clowns” who get tattoos for the wrong reasons. You may have some valid points, but the style of your writing, and I’m not just talking about the caps lock here, make you sound like an angry person who is not likely to listen to the other side of the argument. That is why I responded to you in the way that I did.

      Considering the fact that I graduated college 12 years ago and have been working professionally ever since, I’m not sure where you would get the idea that I’m writing a report for school. I am a real person with real tattoos and I interact with other tattooed people every day of my life. So you may want to guess again.

      • Hanni says

        Wanna know something funny? I hate tattoos for the same reason that I hate people writing in caps lock. The caps lock and the visible tattoo are both perceived more intensely than normal font, and normal skin. They both deequalize the readers and observers, by setting a standard to a new level. A person receiving recognition for tattoos is not receiving recognition for a trait that every other human being can receive recognition for. A caps lock typist will likely have their post read because it is more visible, not because it is qualitatively better, as it ought to be to receive higher recognition. In historic societies, tattoos were socially mandated from someone with a lot of social capital. You got a tattoo because you did this, and I command that everyone here recognize your achievement in life. Today, anyone is legally allowed to get a tattoo. Problem is, I don’t get to choose who I see. If I go out shopping, there might be somebody with a tattoo who I don’t have a relationship with, on any level beyond just seeing them at the mall. Now, why does that guy get to have a tattoo? I wonder to myself. Who has socially mandated him to get a tattoo to receive an extra second glance of attention from my eye? Oh that’s right, our society doesn’t legislate on tattoos because that would impede on freedom of speech. If he gets extra attention than people without a tattoo, what has he achieved life to earn. Oh, that’s up to his own disgression, because the legislated protection of his free speech protects this practice of life-achievement display which is not necessarily socially mandated, which means not necessarily legitimate to the eyes who see it in public, which means he’s getting my extra one second glance of attention for potentially no earned reason.

        Tattoos are socially disrespectful. There is an old mantra: what goes in, goes out; you are what you eat, you act how you’re treated. They are disrespectful to my threshold for attention giving. They force my eye look at what is perceptually different, which takes presidence over natural human uniqueness of say, body and face. I don’t like that I have to give more attention to someone with a tattooed face over someone without. It is unfair to the person without. Tattoos are unfairly giving attention to those who are visibly tattooed. It’s as simple as me as a non tattooed person wanting to be able to get just as much social attention as those with cool tattoos.

        Because tattoos on strangers in public are not socially mandated on an achievement basis which is legitimate to my standards of achievement and therefore not legitimate to my extra attention giving, I say we come to consensus to level the playing the field, so that we can all be held to the same standards of attention getting. You may say: I have this tat to commemorate my marriage. I say, I have a marriage too, what makes yours so special that you get a permanent mark for it? If only you can see it, fine, but if you’re getting extra public attention from me, for something I also have done, but have not received a permanent mark for, that is unfair to me.
        People with visible tattoos receive a societal reward of attention. I want attntion! That’s not fair to me! Why do tattooed people get looks just because they have tats, where I have to rely on my cerebral and biologically-inherited physical traits?

        I don’t want to get tats because I believe the human mind and body are adaptive throughout our lives- I don’t want irrepressable emotional baggage, or skin damage, or negative association! None of those are appealing! So how can I be cool and get attention without tats, I focus on looking naturally good and being the best me I can be in social situations.

        I want to reiterate how important it is that we all be held to the same standards, especially now that we have agreed to live in an egalitarian society. People shouldn’t be given recognition for inking their body just like trust fund babies don’t deserve to inherit enormous sums of capital. I want to have social capital just like someone with tats does. Why do u get immediate perceptual recognition over those of us humans who who keep our skin natural? I demand to be treated fairly, and to be able to be recognized for being unique, just as much as any other human. Visibly tat’ed people in public actively take away from non-tat’ed peoples’ attention. Is that fair!? No!

        • says

          That was quite the rant and I’m not even sure where to begin to respond.

          Your entire argument makes it sound as if everyone in the world is entirely equal in terms of looks, except for people with tattoos. There are countless ways that people get the attention of others in public. Wearing flashy jewelry, coloring your hair, plastic surgery, loud clothing, expensive cars, etc… Do you feel that all of these things are “socially disrespectful” as well? Is it socially disrespectful for a woman to dye her hair blonde because she feels that it will garner a different type of attention? It is in our nature to do things to make ourselves unique and tattoos are just one of many.

          Since you used marriage as one of your examples, do you realize how much extra attention someone gets by wearing a large, expensive engagement ring? If you buy a 3 carat diamond ring to commemorate your engagement, I say that I am also engaged but could only afford something far less flashy. This is unfair to me.

          If you drive down the street in a Mercedes and get lots of attention, but nobody looks at my Honda Accord driving right behind you, that is unfair to me… If you can afford a personal trainer and nutritionist and have a lean and muscular build, would that be unfair to those people who cannot afford the same?

          Do you see how ridiculous your argument starts to sound when you apply it to things other than tattoos? It sounds like you are proposing a world where we all dress the same, have the same hairstyle, drive the same car and live in the same size houses. I’m sorry but that is not the type of world I would want to be a part of.

        • Aoife says

          Wow. To the poster who desires recognition and approval so badly, and apparently resents looking at people’s ‘unearned’ tattoos, your ‘argument’ if it can be called as such, ramble being more accurate, gives the impression that you live for the attention and recognition of others, and so you seem angry that anyone who stands out by inking their body is somehow ‘stealing’ your limelight. This presumably applies to anyone who dares to try to express their tastes in anything, bodyart, music, clothing make-up or whatever who finding themselves unwittingly in your airspace becomes a fair target for your vitriolic jealousy and social inferiority complex.

          Would it surprise you to know that no-one cares if you look once, twice or not at all at them. You are enraged by your own need to look at tattooed people and you feel your glance is worth something to the subject of your wrath.

          Are you really married? I’m not. does that make you my social superior? I wear generic clothing, live in a waggon and hate going out in public. I am covered in tattoos, I have been a soldier, all my ink has meaning and I now rescue dogs full time. Am I a worse person because I am inked? or am I less of a threat to you because I don’t go out flashing myself around competing for the attention of people I will never even meet.

          Are you on prozac? just curious

  80. JIMMY says


    • says

      That was quit the rant, Jimmy. What are you so angry about?

      Unless you come from a line of warrior ancestors who expressed their power by typing in all caps, your post is just bullshit with no real significance. Everyone has the right to type in all caps, but most people find it annoying and difficult to read. Although I have heard that clowns like typing in this style. But who the fuck I am to say? All you clowns will and can continue leaving your caps lock keys turned on, while the rest of us suffer through your difficult to read blocks of text.


  81. Andy says

    I belice its soposed to prove that not all people with tats are in a gang or have kied some your title clearly stats that it is about the top reasons people get tattoos and I dont know if my 20-20 viso went away for about an hour but I did not see “cause im in a gang”, “cause I killed people” , or “cauee I want everyone to know how tough I am”

    • says

      Andy, I am the author of this blog, so I do have a pretty good understanding of my own writing. I was asking Travis what his linked article was supposed to prove.

    • says

      I do have a question. What is this article supposed to prove?

      I see some very vague references to correlation between 3 or more tattoos and low self-esteem. This data also came from a study of only 48 people. I don’t know how much stock I can put into a study conducted on such a small number of people, especially with very little information on where they found the participants.

  82. Sandra says

    I think the problem is that whether one likes it or not, history has has shown and made a strong connection between tats, bad people, and bad behavior: gangs, criminals, show offs, etc. For example, some people have tats that represent how many people they have killed, and some have tats to represent how loving they are. Tats have varing symbolic meanings. Its not like wearing a chain with a cross around ones neck that only represents Christ. I mean Ive never met anyone who saw someone with a cross around their neck and said they must be a criminal. But tats are different. And I understand trying to change societies negitive view points on those with tats, but I dont think this will happen because too many tats represent too many bad things. And most people cannot tell them apart. Heck I could not tell if a tat meant you are a gang member or an activist. But bottom line, people go out of their way to communicate to others who they are by the clothes they put on just as those with tats go out of their way to say hey, look at me. How are those with tats any different than someone putting a neon sign around their neck everwhere they go that says, “Just in case you didnt know I was a tough guy, I have a sign around my neck that says it.”

    • says

      Thanks for the reply. Sorry for not responding earlier, because you make some very good points and I agree with most of what you have to say.

      You chose a cross, one of the most well recognized religious symbols in the world to make your argument. But take that cross to a culture that has never seen it before and your symbol that “only represents christ” is seen for what it is, a brutal torturous death of a man nailed to a cross. Can you not see how that could be taken the wrong way in different cultures? There are plenty of other symbols worn by people that are not easily understood by the general public.

      There are many tattoos out there that are in no way, shape, or form criminal in nature and could never be mistaken as such. I believe that most people would be able to tell a jailhouse tattoo from an artistic tattoo if they actually took the time to look rather than writing off the tattooed person at a mere glance. Not being able to tell them apart and not even wanted to try are two very different things.

      It is a misconception that ALL people with tattoos go out of their way to scream for attention. This is something I see stated over and over again that is simply not true. If it were, nobody would ever get tattoos in discrete locations.

      I get the historic connection between tattoos and bad behavior, and I get that it will be nearly impossible to completely forget about the history. But that doesn’t mean I won’t do my small part in trying. If history has taught us anything it should be that opinions can change.

  83. Andy says

    Sorry but after rereadin my argument I relized some of you might mis read the mona lisa part what I ment was that he wanted to do somthing differnt and many people hade a problem with that and they made him make it look “normal” and I put normal in quotastion because every time someone tells me to be normal I ask what is “normal” and I never ger an anwser all I get is “Just stop doing that”

    • Paul says

      We actually couldn’t miss your point, because you mispelled so many words that it was impossible to know what your point was.

  84. Andy says

    Paul, I agree with you I dont have any tattos at the moment for I am under-age but I do plan on getting some when I read some of theis coments I got upset and I almost cryied when I saw that someone out there thinks women with tattos are sluts and I am a guy. For all the tatto haters I hope you know that you that people are extemly offended by some of coments. I am goin to get attos for freedom of expresion and yes I will admit I want people to see them. I want people to see what I belive in 90% of all communication is non-verbal and tatoos are a big part of that. For those of you that think people get tatoos to make them look better and disract people from the ugly many famouse actors actresess and modles have tatoos so I guess they are ugly too. The human body is beautiful as it is but whats wrong with changing somthing the Mona Lisa was panted over many times befor it was accsepted the artist thought it was beautiful as is (sorry I cant remeber his name its 6am and iv been up all night) and people like the tat haters mad him change it many times. So if a person wants tatoos you have no right to tell them they cant have them. You are entitled to your own opinion but remeber opinions are like butt holes everyone has one and the stink. Ok what im really trying to say is keep it to yourself noone made you comment on this and tell everyone how much you hate tats. And you claim only unintelegent people have tatoos well monks who are considered to be the most knoledable people out there have tatoos mabey not all I know some. I personly dont belive in god but if someone gets a symbol of what they belive in the only differece between the tatoo and a necklace of the symbole is you wont lose the tatoo and youll never forget to put it on. And about the whole grave yard thing im sure that you wouldnt want to buried in cardbord box and thrown in hole in the ground in the desret unless you love cardboard boxes and deserts. Any way I have made you suffer through my argument and horribel spelling long enough so im goin to sum it all up in two words…. NO HATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  85. Barbara Ortiz says

    I stumbled upon this thread while googling about tattoos. I am trying understand the personality profile of those with obvious tattoos. Since it takes time, effort, and money to be inked heavily, there clearly must be distinguishing personality traits that differentiate those who ink and those who don’t. You might opt for the creative theory: those who ink appreciate the art form and have a need to express themselves via an art form. Or, you might take the position that inking is a socially immature and narcisstic effort to attain a marker for individualism and accomplishment. Observers of the tattooed establish their point of view through experience. The author of this blog clearly wants to profile the tattooed as competent, socially, intellectually, and emotionally. And why not? Many are. The problem is that there are are many inked individuals who fit the profiles described by the naysayers in this thread. I have recently had many unfortunate experiences dealing with heavily tattooed people. These experiences are
    memorable not because the people involved were tattooed, but because they were so far out of the realm of average interactions. I am becoming biased based on those experiences. Unfortunately, from now on I will start to “prejudge” as a result. Sad, but that is the reality.

    • says

      “The author of this blog clearly wants to profile the tattooed as competent, socially, intellectually, and emotionally.”

      Barbara, you need to read my blog a bit more carefully. Go back and look at the 2nd paragraph of this post. I have stated on multiple occasions that no labels can be applied to all tattooed people equally. That statement is the driving force behind this blog. For me to preach that all tattooed people are intellectuals would be hypocritical.

      I am making the exact argument that you are, but in the opposite direction. There are tattooed people that fit the description of the naysayers as well as the description of the tattoo champions. Both sides are right and both sides are equally wrong if you look at individual cases.

      But, those who want to apply a label to all tattooed people across the board will be wrong 100% of the time, whether those labels are positive or negative.

  86. Vivek Mahamuni says

    Hey Paul!
    First of all, I feel to tell you that you got a sense of humanity and intellect which is expressed in every comment out here on this post specially. The thoughts you are projecting in a pragmatic sense can be understood by real thinking brains who have got logical process to living life.
    Some folks have their arguments based on words like show off, attention seeking, psychological patients, analogies, 100% assumption, stereotype, weak people etc..
    I guess these people have a lot to say about their thinking and have not got space to breathe positive life! Suggest them to tattoo “I hate tattoo and tattooed people ” if they really believe on their assumption as soul truth!

    The reason why people comment stereotyped is because they put forward the same reason for every instance they see. Comments mentioning gals with tattoo are unwanted in this discussion. Hope such judge-mental people restrict themselves in instant expression of words and take time to think on other persons perspective.
    I don’t know what they want to prove ultimately? Whether they want to be right in thinking or notify the world that common they need help from psychologist!

    On an honest note, i feel tattoo is an art form of expression of intimate self. Now why people tattoo, when they feel to tattoo, what they desire to tattoo, etc are individualistic decisions. Any person does not have the right to subside any human on the basis of some unproven and illogical observation of certain act.

    Keep up the good work Paul and keep the thinking truly higher!


  87. says

    If I wear a straw hat, rattle snake skinned boots, a big Texas belt buckle, Rustler jeans, and a kid says, “Look mommy, a Cowboy!” and I say, “Hey wait a minute, just because I dress like this dont make me no Cowboy!” And then I rant a rave that Ive been judged, that is how stupid you people sound who have tattoos and whine about being negitivley judged. Oh its just fine if someone judges in your favor and says how cool and rad your tats look, but if you are viewed as a maladaptive looser, you cry. I think Ill dress as a KKK member at work and then get offened when people call me a racist.

    • says

      Lisa, your analogies just don’t make any sense. You are making tattoos out to be the uniforms of the maladaptive losers of the world. The whole point of this article was to show just a few of the many, many reasons that people choose to get tattoos.

      Dressing like a KKK member really serves no purpose other than to show other people that you are a member of that group. Calling someone a cowboy because they are dressed as a cowboy is nowhere near the same thing as calling someone with tattoos a maladaptive loser, uneducated, a criminal, or any one of the many stereotypes I hear thrown around. If you want to say that my tattoos are ugly and you hate them, I have absolutely no problem with that and you certainly won’t hear me crying about it. But when you begin to take things beyond appearance and make assumptions about my character, which in most cases are absolutely false, that is when I take issue with your judgments.

    • Brandon Cornwell says

      Your analogy is a little off.

      If a Kid sees a man dressed like a cowboy and says “Look mommy, a Cowboy!, he’s probably a womanizer who shoots people and drinks a-lot of whiskey”
      …That would be the same type of stereotyping that is happening with the judgement of tattooed people.

  88. kristina says

    Well, to start I am doing a speech for my communications class as to why you should not judge people for their tattoos. I found this blog to be very useful. I also found some of the comments stated to be offensive, seeing how I am a tattooed woman who majority of her tattoos are children, family, or lost friends names, also to include some art work that I really enjoy. I am an outgoing, kindhearted, smart woman with a nice body so please I dare someone to come at me with some culgar comments such as slut because i have “ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE” tattooed across my chest along with 3 flowers which each represent a child of mine whom I am a single mother of. I’m sure all of these people who have a problem with tattoos have seen the movie “Bambi.” Well as Thumpers mother would say, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I LOVE ALL of my tattoos (I have 10 of them) and plan on getting more.

  89. Nick says

    Every reason you listed for getting a tattoo comes back to a single point: they are physical representations of emotions, passions, experiences, and beliefs. However, all of these things in no way require physical representation. That is not to say that they do not allow space for physical representation, but obviously, my love for someone, my love of art, passions, or beliefs would not (or shouldn’t) be enhanced/influenced by a physical representation. Why would it? These are undeniably and historically the greatest immaterial traits of human existence that reside purely in our thoughts, emotions, and experiences. If you really truly and entirely loved someone or lost a loved one, would you need a reminder of that? Or would the intensity of your immaterial love be enough? Or if you held firm beliefs about religion etc. wouldn’t etching a reminder into your skin prove that you may not hold those beliefs as firmly as you’d like to? It is hard for me to come up with a reason for getting a tattoo other than one that is purely aesthetic, visual, and physical. Therefore, I am often comfortable concluding that tattoos exist only to alter physical and material representation to society in some way or another. Not that this is a bad thing, but I would appreciate more people with tattoos admitting that they’re appearance at least played a role in their decision to get tattoos rather than often claiming they care less about appearances than those without tattoos.

    • says

      I can’t say I disagree with most of what you are saying and I actually find your description of tattoos as “a physical representation of emotions, passions, experiences, and beliefs” to be perfect.

      But you later go on to state that it is hard for you to think of a reason for getting a tattoo that is not “purely aesthetic, visual and physical”.

      I find these two statements to contradict one another. How can something be purely aesthetic when you just said it was a representation of emotions, passions and beliefs?

      Do you believe that burying the dead and visiting their graves is necessary to remember the person you lost? Is this practice not a physical manifestation of the memory of a lost loved one? A tribute tattoo goes one step further by allowing other people in your day-to-day life to see your tribute. They can encourage conversations about a belief, passion or memory.

      My tattoos represent an important turning point in my life. Because this time is in the past, the tattoos cannot enhance the experience or make it any more important. I also understand that I do not need the tattoos to remember, but without them I wonder how often I would actively think back.

      Think into your past and consider how many events helped shape you into the person you are today. Now try to remember the last time you remembered those events without being prompted. The memories are not lost, but in your daily life you may not encounter anything to trigger you to think about them. Tattoos can act as that trigger.

  90. Marsha says

    Some observations here:

    First, it’s pretty amazing that this blog post (from over a year ago) remains active. And what began as an informational blog, has elicited so much opposition. I’ve read the original post several times and nowhere in this post do I remember reading that the author either defends or opposes the practice of tattooing. He simply states some of the more common reasons that people get tattooed.

    Second, I have to commend the author for not overusing the delete button on some of the blog comments. It’s a good thing there is not a delete button available on my screen because some of the more ignorant and grammatically challenged comments would have been vaporized instantly. I guess that’s why they don’t grant delete buttons to just anyone. I did enjoy reading the author’s rebuttals, by the way.

    Third, I reached this post trying to understand why two of my friends are so rabid about tattoos. Personally, I don’t have any tattoos; have never felt the need; am not opposed to them and enjoy looking at them…but on other people. However, my friends are forever spending their last penny getting new “ink.” I guess I just don’t understand why they spend their last dollar on a tat when they can’t buy gas for their car. These are middle age women so you think they would have their priorities figured out by now. I know that all tattooed people do not behave that way but this just happens to be my own personal reason for being here. I just needed to understand, and the author’s blog helped explain it a bit. I’ve heard two things from my friends. I’ve heard that tattooing can be addictive and as for understanding the reasons for getting tattooed, you either understand it or you don’t. I guess I just don’t “get it,” but that doesn’t mean I condemn others for doing it. Life is just too short to get worked up over whether or not someone has a tattoo.

    • says

      Thanks Marsha. Although it’s one of my oldest, this post accounts for more traffic on my blog than anything else I have written.

      I have not yet had to delete any comments on this site. One of the main reasons I write this blog is to show people just how much bias there still is against tattoos today. Leaving the ignorant comments alone just further proves my point.

      I read all of the comments that people leave and as you can see, respond to many of them. I am willing to listen to what other people have to say, whether I agree with them or not. And I feel that it’s more productive to respond to comments in a rational way, rather than just deleting anything that I disagree with.

      You are proof that you don’t have to “get it” in order to be ok with other people doing something. I wish more people had that same attitude, but it’s far easier to reject and fear the unknown than to try and understand it. You could have simply chosen to disagree with your friends who decided to get tattooed, but instead you took it upon yourself to do some research and try to better understand them. I’m glad that your search lead you here. I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

  91. ESPF says

    I agree that there are judgemental people out there. In fact, I don’t think that any of us can truly say that we’ve never made a snap judgment about anybody.

    I have a tattoo, just one, and I got it a few days ago after about two years’ worth of indecision. It’s personal, it’s for me and it’s on my shoulder which is always covered by a sleeve. Very few people will ever see it – most of my close friends don’t even know I’ve got it. I have no plans to tell them, either. But then again, as it’s a tattoo, I must be one of those narcissistic attention whores, eh?

    It’s interesting that people like Ed Gein, Doctor Crippen and Myra Hindley didn’t have tattoos, too, considering we know that all criminals and psychos have tattoos!

  92. Tyler Johns says

    The only logical reason for getting a tattoo that I can see is for getting it simply because of your love for the art form. Why exactly would I get a tattoo of a date of something important in my life?

    I don’t gain anything from that.

    • Max says

      Thanks for asking! When I was 5 my father ended his life. In response to this I pretended like it never happened. Very rarely did someone talk to me about it and many of my good friends went a long time without even realizing that it had happened. Then in my second semester of college the same depression that gripped my father found me. After years of having to be on medication and trying to make sense of things I was finally at a spot where I was in control. Soon after when I was 21 I got the date my father passed away in roman numerals on my left shoulder. This did a great many things for me. First of all I could no longer run away from the fact it happened so it helped me come to terms with it. When someone does see it which happens rarely or the issue whether or not people have tattoos comes up, I actually have to talk about it what happened which is extremely therapeutic. I also like that the tattoo itself doesn’t have a positive or negative connotation associated with it; it is just a statement of fact, yes this event did happen. The reason being is my feelings towards my father fluctuate and sometimes I do curse his name while other times I thank him for making me the person I am today while others times I feel a great deal of empathy towards what he must have been going through. Although I know this would have all been possible without a tattoo, I still enjoy the fact that it’s there to remind me everyday of what happened.

  93. misslvi says

    stumbled across this just now and had to have a read through, wow some really negative people out there. hence, why i hate most people. reading all the brutal ignorant comments made that perfectly clear why i do, ugh ugly. i have many tattoos including a full sleeve which i love, and quite frankly i love the shock factor it gives to people when they see it, it’s pretty funny. get out of the box yo! if someone wants tattoos for whatever reason they want them for, is their business; not yours. let them be happy with their choice, if you don’t like it don’t get one, right? also not yours to judge them for what you think that makes them (oooo, she’s got a tattoo, she MUST be a slut, or a bad person, or incapable of doing that job etc etc etc…) people like you should just go away because your’re part of what makes this world horrible. that said, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, yes…but have some fucking respect.

    ps…waste and waist….that was classic!

  94. Lese says

    Paul, I agree with you completely. I have several tattoos visable except when my arms are covered. I am an educated, health care professional who waited 20 years to get the tattoos that I wanted. I got them because I love to look at them, because they make me extremely happy and because I can. I do not understand why they are such an issue for some people. Mine are beautiful and well done. I did not pay $30 for 30 mins. The art is amazing and takes my breath away. If people worried less about someone elses tattoos, which by the way have nothing to do with them personally… If you don’t like them don’t get them, no one will force you… and more about the corpulent state of our nation…which disturbs me more than a tattoo any day of the week. I believe we would be in a much better state of affairs. One more point. I did not get them because I wanted attention, I have always gotten attention as I am in phenomenal shape and quite attractive. Not being conceited just stating what is, the same way one would state they are male or female. I do understand that there will always be people with these limited mindsets. Hopefully my tats will keep them away from me. All the best.

  95. says

    tattoos are a sign of weakness. its a pathetic overt attempt to elicit attention. its no different than a 3 year old putting finger paint on their face and saying, “look mommy, look at me!” obviously those with tattoos dont feel they have high quality, attractive, internal traits that draw people towards them, so they default to “jumping up and down, waving their arms, and shouting, look at me! will someone just look at me?, please?” its really sad. every time i see someone with a tattoo i think how attention starved they must be. Listen, everyone one wants attention and wants to feel important, but there are healthy ways to get attention and there are gimmicks. tattoos are gimmicks. healthy ways are being kind, intelligent, healthy, helpful, athletic, successful, etc. these qualities take time and hard work to aquire, not just $ 30 and 30 minutes. if tattoos were invisible to everyone but the person who got it, would they still get it? and dont act like you all wouldnt judge someone with a tattoo. if you were going to hire someone in your marketing firm who had a giant black widow spider covering their entire face, would you hire them? no, you would judge them just as this opinionated thread is judgmental. its a matter of what one thinks is an appropriate standard which comes in varying degrees. and reasons like someone died, a turning point in ones life, religion, give me a break. we ALL go through those things as that is part of being human.

    • says

      Todd, is it safe to assume that you are a psychologist, specializing in the treatment of people with tattoos? I would love to hear more about the research you have done that lead to the conclusions that people with tattoos are all starved for attention and don’t feel they have internal traits to attract people to them. Perhaps I can interview you for a future blog post.

      Of course, if you aren’t a psychologist, then I have to assume you are just making all of this stuff up based on your preconceived notions about people with tattoos. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess the latter is true.

      Did it ever occur to you that a person with tattoos can also be kind, intelligent, healthy, helpful, athletic, and successful? I know it might be crowded in that narrow mind of yours, but you have to take my word for it. If you could ask anyone that I know, they would tell you that I possess all of the positive traits you mentioned and have no problem getting people to like me for who I am, with or without the tattoos. I also don’t think anyone who knows me could ever describe me as someone trying hard to get attention, at least not while maintaining a straight face. I’m quiet, somewhat shy and generally try to stay under the radar. I don’t run around without a shirt on, flagging down strangers on the street and begging them to admire my tattoos.

      My tattoos are invisible to everyone around me when I wear anything longer than a 3/4 sleeve shirt and I know plenty of people with tattoos that are very rarely seen by others. How can a hidden tattoo possibly be a desperate cry for attention?

      I never claimed I would never judge another person with a tattoo, and I am very clear about my thoughts on highly visible tattoos that cannot be covered by normal clothing. A person who tattoos a giant spider across their face is someone who is trying to make a statement and trying to stand out and get attention. The problem I have with your way of thinking is that you seem to want to lump everyone with tattoos together into one big group. How can you compare someone with giant black widow on their face to someone with a memorial tattoo on their back that is covered 90% of the time?

      It’s true that we all go through times in our lives that are important to us, and everyone handles those times in a different way. Why should it matter to you that I chose to get a tattoo to honor an important turning point in my life?

      This blog post was written to show people some of the many reasons behind tattoos and the fact is that there are thousands and thousands of people who have tattoos for each and every reason I talked about. It was written specifically with people like you in mind. People that are quick to make assumptions about those of us with tattoos. Look back at the quotes I referenced in the article and you will see that your comment would fit right in.

    • dave says

      Todd has got it figured out 100%. You are exactly right. I love what you said, “if tattoos were invisible to everyone but the person who got it, would they still get it?” That is so true, and just like you said. The whole argument from these tatt lovers is that it symbolizes something important to their life and act as though people without tattoos don’t go through similare traumatic or important events. Every time people make an excuse for why they need a tattoo, it just sounds like a little kid wanting to fit in and be noticed. It’s pathetic, and the real nonconformist thing to do now days is to not have any ink…

      • says

        Thanks for the comment Dave, and for hiding behind a fake email address. First of all, I have never heard of a tattooed person trying to make it sound as if people without tattoos have not gone through important and/or traumatic life events. If you have examples of this, I would love to hear them, but I have never heard of this before.

        Back to Todd’s question, “if tattoos were invisible to everyone but the person who got it, would they still get it?” This may be a cute little theory/question, but I hardly think he has it figured out 100%.

        Some people would absolutely answer yes to this question. How else can you explain tattoos that are discrete and hidden under clothing 99% of the time? Other people would answer with a resounding NO. How else can you explain big, bold, face and neck tattoos?

        Do you see my point? The reasons behind peoples tattoos are just as varied as the tattoos themselves and cannot possibly be summed up in a single blog post, let alone a single statement.

        The reasons people have for getting tattoos are simply that, reasons. They are not “excuses” or “arguments” as you like to call them. I got a tattoo because I wanted a tattoo, not because I needed one. I like the way it looks, and yes, I do want other people to see it. But that does not take away from the meaning behind it.

        Let’s expand Todd’s impossible hypothetical situation to other things in life. If we were the only ones who could see our own clothing, our own bodies, hair, makeup, our own car, house, etc…, don’t you think we would all behave in drastically different ways? Do you find anyone who buys a nice car or wears designer clothing pathetic? Where do you draw the line between acceptable forms of expression and pathetic, childish cries for attention? I’m trying to figure out if you are completely against people expressing themselves, or if you are you just making up excuses to argue against tattoos because you personally don’t like them.

        I have lost track of how many times I have heard people say that the nonconformist thing to do today is not to get a tattoo. The fact that you and Todd are here commenting about your hatred of tattoos is enough to disprove this statement completely. If tattoos were so common and so normal, why are you here? If you are truly the nonconformist, where are masses of tattooed people commenting about how pathetic you are for wanting attention by not getting inked? Where are the business owners screaming about how they won’t hire anyone WITHOUT any visible tattoos?

        • says

          What you basically said with ” got a tattoo because I wanted a tattoo, not because I needed one. I like the way it looks, and yes, I do want other people to see it. But that does not take away from the meaning behind it.” is 99% of people do the tattoos where people can’t see them, but I didn’t, I’m the attention seeker kind, the 1%.

          About the argument of cars, clotes and houses, they have usages, you won’t expect a Mini Cooper to have the same power to carry stuff around as a Titan, or to go at 120mph with that truck instead of a sport car. The same thing goes for houses, of course if you paint one of them in neon colours that indeed goes to the attention seeker kind. On the clothes, sure I’ll wear them… you need them to protect you not just for avoid others to see your body, but to actually protect you from the outside factors like cold climate, rain, etc… Sometimes the more expensive clothes are better for some activities, try to run in a $30 cheap sneakers and then in a $80 shoes designed to run.

          • says

            Read my previous comment a little more carefully. I never claimed that 99% of people had hidden or discrete tattoos. I asked how to explain the fact that some people have tattoos that are hidden 99% of the time. If you knew me, you would realize just how far from an attention seeker I am. My tattoos are covered quite often actually.

            You entirely missed my other point as well. I understand the difference between good running shoes and cheap ones, and between a mini and a truck. But a $100 t-shirt with a name brand stamped across it does nothing more to protect you from the environment than a $10 dollar one. A well constructed 3 bedroom house will shelter you just as well as a lavish, 15,000 square foot mansion. A mini cooper will get you from point a to point b, and so will a Ferrari. Does anyone really need a Ferrari to drive around in NYC traffic?

            I’m not against buying any of these things. If you can afford it and it makes you happy, go for it. Just don’t try to pretend that tattoos are the only thing in the world used to get attention from others.

      • Nicole says

        This is BS, I personally have three tattoos and maybe they are not physically invisible but they might as well be. One is at the back of my neck and I’ve had long hair for as long as I can remember. The second is on my oblique stomach, and the last on my lower back, and they wouldn’t be invisible if I walked around without a top all day, which is obviously something I do with all the spare time I have (sarcasm). Not everyone wants to show off to others. A tattoo can carry significant and emotional meanings to the person who wears them. We’ll see who’s laughing when we’re all old with Alzheimer’s and the people with tattoos are able to remember more about what’s important to them! (Just kidding.)

    • Absinthium says

      “if tattoos were invisible to everyone but the person who got it, would they still get it?”
      Yeah, of course! I could get my whole body tattooed (face and all the visible places included) without those people like you all butthurt because “I’m desperately craving for attention” and I could also live without all those positive opinions (which I also get quite often). I could just look in a mirror and love what I see without any problems with finding work and being judged all the time. I mean, a lot those people asking “what is the meaning of your tattoo?” seem judgmental. Like “now, try to explain yourself, why did you do such dumb thing? Do you have any REAL good reason?”.

  96. Sher says

    That last comment made me laugh Paul. I have a tattoo on my hip. It used to have a name in it, but I had that lasered out and colored back in……no big deal. I don’t know why people look for endless psychological reasons for people getting tattoos. Does it really matter that much? After all, it’s just a tattoo people! I am 38 years old…..a solid member of the tattoo generation. Most of my girlfriends have tattoos. Some love them still, some regret them. Some kept them, some had them removed, some had them altered, some got several more over the years. Why is it any different than any other decision we make? I can assure you that I have made many other decisions that in hindsight have led me to question my sanity so much more than a damn tattoo! Trust me when I tell you that my ex-spouse was more detrimental to my life than the tattoo that had his name in it. So go ahead and judge me on that too while you’re at it.

  97. says

    I Did a research on this for my 11th grade research paper , and Honestly I think that people are going to do what they want regardless of anyone’s opinions. So therefore I don’t think anyone should discriminate people for who they are & what they want to do , And to never judge a book by its cover !

  98. sandhya verma says

    Hi paul,
    I really wanted to know why people get tattoo done…n d reason why i want it for myself…..your article makes a lot of sence to me….i feel commenting on others views is just stupid….ppl should mind dr own bussiness…if i want a tattoo or not thts my problem….u dnt want it dnt get it…nobody is frocing you….its same as doing sumthing to make u look good…or to keep it as a memory…Paul i really think…v have come to this world…n will not b able to take a singel memory with us whn v die…no snaps no gifts…but yes tht tattoo is gonna b a part of my body with me alwayz n nobody cn take it away…..its nt a ornament to wear n take off….it will be with me….n d person who thinks a gal wearing tato is slut…m sure every gal s same for…he needs some good F*** ;)
    newazz thanxx a lot…to make me realize d importance..

    • YouareaHypocrit says

      “I feel like commenting on other views is stupid.” You are, yourself commenting on a view. You are stupid.

      • says

        This is a comment that is over 2 years old, written by someone in India who appears to not be a native English speaker and “You are stupid.” is the best you could come up with as a response. I highly doubt sandhya meant what you think she did with that sentence.

        P.S. you spelled hypocrite wrong

  99. Todd says

    Well i believe they are all unrealistic selfish acts that compensate for something, personally.. if its to commemorate.. who are they showing it to? the person that has perished will never know… if they did i surely doubt thats what they wanted.. maybe a preyer or something.. the love of art.. draw it on a sheet of paper.. tattoos are to show off something you feel makes you you.. which compensates for the lack of appreciation from others because they are not well known and they want everyone to see what they are about.. if you would like me to continue i could but do you understand my thoughts?

    • says

      Thank you for your comment. I would be happy to continue the discussion because I feel that you may have missed the point I was trying to make.

      I don’t think your argument about commemorative tattoos makes any sense. A tattoo is no different than any other form of memorial. They are for the benefit of the living, not for the person who has perished. Do you think the dead need fancy caskets with comfortable pillows, expensive marble headstones, and a plot of land with a great view? All of these things are for the living. How is a memorial tattoo any different?

      Your thoughts about using tattoos to compensate for something may be correct in some cases. But, making a general statement about why people get tattoos can never be correct for everyone. Your opinion is shared by many who view tattoos in a negative way, but it’s simply not true for many people with tattoos. How do you explain tattoos that remain hidden while in public?

      Why does showing off “something that makes you feel like you” have to be in response to a lack of appreciation from others?

      • Allan95_30 says

        I really liked the graveyard/coffin comeback, it is, in fact, VERY TRUE that your resting place and the coffin you will rest in could be made of your latest TV box and it wouldn’t matter at all. YES it is for the living and so is a tattoo.

        Something else I would like to add is:
        If you get a memorial tattoo of your father who passed away for example, it’s not to remember him (OF COURSE you will remember him) and not to honor him (because he is unlikely to see it) I would rather say that it is to prove YOURSELF that you did LOVE that person a hell lot.

    • Kim says

      All of you people are just judgmental but I agree in some detail of what you said is true . Tattoo is NOT a subliminal message saying “Oh, Hey! Look at me, I have a tattoo…I’m a bad ass.”because most people who has a tattoo are not. A tattoo ideal is a representative (Pride), death of a loving memory of someone they miss or truly care or love for, etc. Tattoo is a work of art and it so happen that they wear ours. Certain people who have tattoo may try to fit with other; Some people just have a passion. Whether or not anyone has a tattoo.. Does it really matter? I think it’s their choice because everyone who gets one..Know it’s there forever. Celebrities has one including Tyga, Lil Wayne, Waka Flocka, Justin Bieber, Miley Cryus, and believe it or not even police has one. So why do you care? Should you just Live you Life to the fullest? Because everyone who has a tattoo is not here for you or anyone else in the world; They are their for themselves. But first think about it.. you will see people who have alot of tattoo have a great job, or who is smart, doesn’t alleged into any criminal, who’s in any age above 16, and living their life. Do you really think the will care what you say? Umm.. No I would think not because everyone is different in their own individual way.Do you think overall people agree with you? or disagree with you? You do the math.Thank you.
      I have a tattoo and I’m proud. My tattoo has a meaning that describe who I am as a person and what I went through to make me the person I am today along help with the ones who cares about me and I’m living amazingly and wonderful as always whether I have one or not. When I have my tattoo I thought about it because I know one day if I got something that I “just like” then I might as will regret getting it but I don’t. So I don’t really care what anyone has to say about me because I aint living their life for them .. I’m only and only here for myself and plus I decide to get it.

      Btw. I’m just stated my opinion.

      • Joseph says

        I ran across your old post by chance. Your defense of tattoos is problematic. First, your English is atrocious. Second, the celebrities you cite should not be emulated. Please don’t take offense. My hope is that this is taken as an opportunity to reflect and to learn.

    • Olah says

      What a lot of BS! How can small minded people even get involved with such discussion? I am no attention seeker, nor I’m a criminal. In fact, I’m a pretty, intelligent girl who loves the art! I never used to think I would be the one that would be defending people with tattoos, but now I have quite a few, I got to like them to the point, that now I can’t stop thinking about them! Some of them have a big meaning, some are just purely for decoration. How can people say these things, find yourself something to do maybe.

    • jason says

      You’re so wrong. Tattoos are NOT unrealistic OR selfish. Personally, I have a tattoo for my great grandma who died of cancer. Everyone has their own reasons for getting tattoos. Personally, I have Tourettes Syndrome and people think I’m a tweaker. I got sick and tired of it and I said “Fuck it man. I’ll just get tattoos so they have something that is accurate to judge me by.” That’s not unrealistic or selfish. I can’t tell if you are being an intentional asshole or if you are just being incredibly close-minded. Either way, I hope by now you have wised up.


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