Jun 12, 2012

10 Irrational Arguments Against Tattoos and my Responses to Them

Note to readers: If you have anything else to add to this list, please contact me. I want to hear your reasons for disliking tattoos since these are apparently just weak arguments from “the lowest common denominator” of people with negative opinions of tattoos. http://www.thetattooedengineer.com/?p=2405

I see a lot of arguments, questions or statements used against tattoos that really don’t make any sense at all. I am going to highlight 10 that I hear over and over again and explain why they are irrational.

  1. Would you put a bumper sticker on a Ferrari?
  2. Another variation is “Why put a bumper sticker on a Bentley?”

    My reaction to this question used to be something along the lines of, “It’s my Ferrari, and I’ll put a bumper sticker on it if I want to.” But, the more I think about the analogy, the less sense it actually makes.

    The Ferrari is obviously supposed to represent the human body. Every person on the planet has a body, and skin with space for tattoos. A Ferrari is an exotic sports car that a very, very small percentage of people on this earth can actually afford. How can the two even be compared? I am not a car, I am a living, breathing, thinking being.

    If a bumper sticker on a Ferrari is bad, how about a tattooed Ferrari?

    Or a Ferrari tattoo?

  3. What will happen when you get older?
  4. People use this argument from 2 general angles. First, they attack the way tattoos will age as your skin ages and wrinkles.

    My skin will sag and wrinkle in the same way regardless of whether I have tattoos or not. Fine details in a tattoo may become obscured and colors may fade, but tattoos do not run like wet paint and can always be touched up if necessary.

    With advances in ink, the days of black tattoos turning into unidentifiable green blobs are long gone and modern tattoos generally age very well if taken care of properly.

    The other thing I often hear is, “You are going to be embarrassed by your tattoos when you are old and in a nursing home.”

    Considering the fact that close to 40% of people in my age group have tattoos, if I do end up in a nursing home when I’m older, I expect to be in good company, surrounded by others with tattoos. We can sit around sharing stories about our ink and reminiscing about our youth. Some may even continue getting tattooed, no matter how old they are.

  5. People with tattoos are all just sheep, following the herd.

  6. I am the only person in my family with tattoos, a small percentage of my friends have tattoos, very few of my co-workers have tattoos, and only about 21% of the general population have tattoos. Would someone please explain exactly which herd I am following by getting tattooed?

    The biggest issue I have with this argument is that it’s just lumping all people with tattoos into one big group. It’s kind of like saying that all people that wear pants are just sheep, trying to fit in with the other pants wearing people of the world. Everyone knows that pants are made in many varieties. Well, the same is true about tattoos. All tattoos are not created equal. There are gang tattoos, prison tattoos, generic flash tattoos, and then there are extremely artistic and intricate tattoos.

  7. People with tattoos are rebels, trying to stand out from the crowd.
  8. Wait a second. You just said I was a sheep and trying to fit in, now I’m a rebel, trying to stand out. Which is it?

    The complete contradiction between these last two arguments is pretty much the only proof I need to show that blanket statements about people with tattoos will never apply to all tattooed people equally.

    A person who chooses to cover their face in tattoos is probably trying to stand out. But you cannot take an extreme example of something and try to universally apply it to all people who partake in the same activity at a different level. Like all things in life, there are varying degrees to be taken into consideration when talking about tattoos.

  9. The Bible says tattoos are wrong.
  10. I already covered this topic in detail in another post, but I’ll summarize here.

    First, the bible does not say modern day, non-ritualistic tattoos are wrong. Read Leviticus 19 in its entirety, and be aware of the context. Unless your tattoo is being done as part of a pagan ritual, you are doing nothing wrong by getting one.

    People also love to proclaim “the body is a temple” and should be treated as such. Have you seen many temples? This one looks pretty well decorated to me.

    “But god made you perfect, and a tattoo is a desecration of god’s work.”

    God made me with terrible vision and I chose to permanently alter my eyes by undergoing laser eye surgery. Should I be condemned for this as well? After all, I chose to make permanent changes to the perfect body I was born with.

    Another point that I hardly see brought up is the fact that not everyone follows the same religion. Why should someone care about a misinterpreted, ancient law, printed in a religious book that they have no association with? If you want to avoid tattoos due to your own religious beliefs, that is fine. But don’t try to push those beliefs onto others who may not even be of the same faith.

  11. You won’t be able to find a job.
  12. Follow my basic tattoo advice, don’t get tattoos that cannot easily be covered, and this will not be a problem.

    Of course there are exceptions to this. If you happen to be a Japanese government worker, being forced to reveal even your hidden tattoos, I can’t help you. It isn’t the tattoos fault that your rights are being infringed upon.

  13. Tattoos are responsible for the spread of Hepatitis C.
  14. Hepatitis is not something to be taken lightly. But tattoos that are done in reputable shops carry very little risk. The CDC concluded the following after studying this issue:

    “There is no definitive evidence that [hepatitis C] infections occur when sterile equipment is used,” comment the investigators. “Of note, no outbreaks of hepatitis C infection have been detected in the United States that originate from professional tattooing or piercing parlours.

    If you choose to get tattooed in your friends basement, all bets are off. Please be smart and leave the tattooing to the professionals.

  15. Tattoos are a waste of time and money.
  16. Variations include, “they are a waist of time and money.”
    My short answer to this is “It’s my time and my money and I can do what I please with it.”

    If I am capable of paying my bills and still have enough money to get tattooed, why should it be any of your business? And while tattoos may appear expensive at first glance, they really aren’t if you look at the cost over their lifetime.

    I started getting tattooed at 30 years old and let’s say I live up to the average life expectancy of a male, living in the U.S. and make it to 75. Even if I spent a total of $10,000 on tattoos, that would equate to $222 per year, $18.50 per month or about $0.61 per day.

    There are dozens and dozens of things that people spend far more money on, every day of their lives. Half of Americans spend an average of $1000 per year just buying their morning coffee.

  17. Tattoos are only for sailors, criminals and gang bangers.
  18. Please turn on the news, pick up a newspaper or look at the date in the corner of your computer screen. You see those last 4 digits that say 2012, that means we are well over 10 years into the 21st century. Times are changing, try not to get left behind.

  19. I have never seen a tattoo that enhanced a persons beauty.
  20. I typically see this comment made by men, in reference to women. “I have never seen a tattoo on a woman that made her look better.”, or some variant. It is usually followed by a statement about how they would never date a woman with tattoos.

    The world would be a very boring place if everyone had the same standards of beauty. People are attracted to a certain hair color, eye color, body type, or any number of physical attributes. I may not prefer a woman who dies her hair blonde, but I’m not going to spend my days ranting about it and trying to convince them that they are wrong. What turns one person on may repulse the next. It’s called variety. You know, the spice of life.

I could not possibly capture everything written against tattoos in a single blog post, so this list is just of few of the many things I see written on a regular basis. If anyone wants to share their own, I would be happy to respond to them here.


  • This blog is clearly confirmation bias where the author is attacking the lowest common denimator’s opinion against tattoos rather than real issues people have with tattoos, their culture, and the conformity of anti-conformity. If you want people to care about what you write, you shouldn’t pick on the weak arguments.

    • Yes, this blog is obviously biased and clearly this particular post was intentionally calling out the weak arguments. Weak or not, these are the arguments I see in comments across the web on a regular basis.

      These are the issues that the people speaking the loudest are talking about.

      If you can name some of the real issues people have with tattoos, I would be happy to address them.

      • I am against tattoos. Normally, in the case of such things as clothing or styles, I am more aloof. The problem is permanency. Therefore, when I have kids and they start thinking about tattoos, I will need to have a real opinion on the subject as their decisions will affect them for the rest of their lives…and I’d much rather they steered clear of them.

        So if I do not really have a problem with different styles, why would I have a problem with tattoos? Style in the matters of visible adornments such has baggy clothes, tight clothes, or paper bags, is a superficial means of self expression. You are delivering an instant message about yourself through visible cues. The fact of the matter is, there isn’t much you can say superficially, it is a very weak form of communication (which is why superficiality is not held with a high regard). So let’s say someone wants to express that they are edgy and overt to social norms… well they will dress as such by not following trendy styles. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much it when it comes to expressing yourself through clothing, it’s all surface level. If you want to express yourself further, you’ll have to actually talk to someone. In realty though, you are asking people to judge you based on your appearance. While some people enjoy that idea, others like me don’t. This is not to say I do not express myself at all through my clothing or style, I just do not put much emphasis or importance on it. I am too complex to express myself through purchased goods… they simply compliment my personality.

        Now let’s talk about tattoos, body art that expresses who you are visually. You do not get a tattoo for your eyes only; you get it because you want others to see it as well. Don’t tell me it’s only a reminder of blah blah (it’s not worth remembering if you need a tattoo to remind you of it), you’re getting it because you want to put something on display. Let’s say that person is your grandmother that passed away (I’m using this example as such tattoos are usually used in these arguments), you loved her very much and you want to immortalize her on your ribcage. We’ll assume your grandmother approved of tattoos (otherwise that would be a pretty stupid way of representing the person), you are taking your dead grandmother you loved very much and putting her on display as a superficial means of self expression… It is in bad taste. Sure, your grandmother may be a part of who you are, but she is not part of your style and not meant to be used in other’s judgment of said style.

        Another thing tattoos can express are personality traits or interests. Interests are fleeting and there is no need to tattoo them on your body, it is a silly risk (especially when you’re younger). Personality traits also change (again, especially when you are younger), the risk is also silly. The important point is that you can express such things without the permanency. It is in my opinion that all individuals should continuously strive to improve themselves; therefore, you should never limit yourself to current traits. This renders tattoos useless; you will never assuredly capture yourself through one nor should you strive to. This is why so many regret their tattoos once they get older. My mother worked with a plastic surgeon who did tattoo removals, people don’t know that you can’t always remove a tattoo or that it can leave hefty scarring. She has told me many horror stories of people breaking down after learning that they will be stuck with those wings on their shoulders for the rest of their lives. When they were 18, they represented freedom, now they represent a simplistic cliché and a bad decision.

        The last styles of tattoo I will address are cultural. People get tattoos to show they are Italian or they were in the army. This is something about yourself that will never change, so the idea makes more sense and I have a tough time arguing against it. I don’t think tattoos are nice enough to warrant a permanent place on your body, but that is a matter of taste. The only thing I could say is that being part of an ethnicity or other social group doesn’t really express much about you, so why would you designate a permanent place for it instead of wearing an Italian t-shirt from time to time.

        Overall, I think current society is obsessed with superficiality. It is not a value that was instilled in me as a child, I was always taught you should express yourself through words, not your body or clothes. As I have grown up, I have noticed this has helped me develop much quicker because I was never limited by tangible representations of myself; I was free to change and be what I wanted at any given time. It also forced people to actually get to know me rather than make snap judgments based on what they saw. I think I have led a better life due to these ideals and I will want the same for my kids. In other words: “No, you will not get a tattoo of a dolphin on your ankle.”

        • I can apply almost everything you said to myself in spite of the fact that I have tattoos.

          Superficiality was not a value that was instilled in me as a child either. I do express myself through my words and actions and no matter how many tattoos I have, I am still free to change and be what I want at any given time. My tattoos are very much a part of me, but they do not define me by any means. Tattoos are never meant to be an all encompassing representation of a person, so there is no need to feel limited by them in any way. I am also too complex to fully express myself through purchased goods. My tattoos simply compliment my personality.

          My ink is a reminder, but you will never hear me say that it is ONLY a reminder. Of course I want people to see it and I like the way it looks. But don’t let that detract from the meaning behind it. Just because I have a tattoo to remind me of something, does not mean that I depend on the tattoo to remember. It is more of a catalyst that makes me think back. We all have events in our lives that helped shape up into the people we are today. The memories of these events are never truly forgotten, but how often do we actively think about them without some kind of trigger to remind you? These triggers come in many forms. They may be pictures, seeing a childhood friend, driving through an old neighborhood, watching your old favorite movie, hearing a song on the radio, or in the case of tattoos, looking in the mirror and seeing it on your skin.

          In my opinion, people who break down when they realize that their tattoos cannot be removed, were not educated enough on the tattoo process in the first place. No matter how much the removal process is improved upon, tattoos are intended to be permanent and should always be treated as such.

          Is there ever a case where people are not forced to get to know you, rather than making snap judgments? No matter how you dress or look, people will get a general first impression of you and from that point on it is up to your words and actions that either confirm or contradict those impressions. If I am dressed for work in khakis and a button down shirt, most people who meet me for the first time in that context would be likely assume that I did not have any tattoos.

          I live my life by all of the same ideals you mentioned, but also decided to get tattooed at a later stage of my life. The two are not mutually exclusive.

          • Everything you say has some truth to it. I won’t pretend it doesn’t. That being said, I cannot accept that something that simply compliments your personality has a permanent place on your body. It’s like picking one shirt for the rest of your life… and most people doing it when they’re young and dumb.

            If I am going out of my way to make a statement with a tattoo (as I would with certain shirts as well… but again, not permanent), I am inviting others to pass judgment based on it. Dressing well won’t do that in the same way as a tattoo will. A tattoo is much bolder, it is meant to be. It’s yelling at everyone you meet “HEY! I’M A LION BECAUSE COURAGE PULLED ME THROUGH MY PAST STRUGGLES!” (if the tattoo is a lion… or a botched grizzly bear). In turn, you are highlighting whatever your tattoo symbolizes so you better be sure whatever it means remains relevant to you.

            You did not raise this as an argument, but I want to address it anyways. Other people can do what they want with their bodies, I really don’t care. Being forward thinking though, it is likely that I will run into this issue with at least one of my kids while they are young and dumb and I will need valid reasoning behind my concern. “I don’t think you’ve thought this through enough” or “You’re not old enough to make such a long term decision” will not sit well as making mature, well informed decisions is not a teenager’s forte. Once they’re older and more independent, I would leave them with a simple: “Personally, I wouldn’t do it.” I do not want to come off as someone who alienates tattooed people, I just think there are non-permanent ways of expressing yourself that are just as powerful. To me, it’s a mistake to commit yourself to something that is inherently superficial. If you really love your tattoo though, who am I to tell you otherwise?

            • I agree completely Woooohooo. Tattoos also talk past the sale. They can only limit. They can limit relationship choices, social circles and perhaps most importantly career choices. The fact the person made a blog about it, tells me that he is not completely secure about having tattoos. I have longer hair for example and once in a while someone mocks me. You know what? I just laugh about it. I know that if I ever have to go back into the job market , it is as simple as a 10 dollar haircut and I am done with it. The biggest irony with tattoo person is that they flaunt their individuality and toughness and then can not not accept that the hirer has individual rights as well. Freedom works both ways.

              • Thanks for the comment David, but you have a number of things completely wrong. First of all, the creation of this blog does not in any way indicate that I am not secure about my tattoos. The whole purpose of this blog is to counter the ignorant comments so often thrown around about tattooed people. I use myself as an example of someone with tattoos who defies pretty much all of the stereotypes. If you choose to see that as insecurity, so be it.

                While tattoos can limit you in the ways you mentioned, they don’t have to. In fact, my career, relationships and social circles have grown by leaps and bounds since getting tattooed. As easily as you can get a $10 haircut, I can simply dress appropriately for a job interview and my tattoos would never even be visible.

                If you read more of my blog you would see that I completely understand that freedom works both ways and when asked for advice about tattoos I always encourage people to get them in areas that can easily be covered during job interviews. If a hiring manager chooses someone less qualified for a job just because they saw a tattoo peeking out from under my shirt, that is their right, but their loss as well.

                Moving on to your biggest irony about tattooed people. They “flaunt their individuality and toughness”. My individuality has nothing to do with my tattoos and I have always taken pride in my ability to stand on my own and not cave under pressure to follow the crowd. As for flaunting my toughness… That one gave me a good laugh. If you knew anything about me, you would realize just how inaccurate that statement is. I honestly can’t think of a single tattooed person I know that exhibits the characteristics you are describing.

                The simple fact that you are on this blog making blanket statements about people with tattoos is evidence that I need to keep on writing.

          • Maybe I understated things when I said my tattoo simply complimented my personality. It is a lot more than that for me, but I was really just trying to make the point that it does not define my personality.

            A tattoo is permanent, but does not always have to be shown. When I get dressed in the morning I have a choice as to whether I want my tattoo to be visible or not. I can easily cover it with a long sleeved shirt, even with the sleeves rolled up to the elbow. I can show a small portion of it by wearing a short sleeved shirt, or I can make a more bold statement by wearing a tank top and showing even more.

            Many people I know have tattoos that are almost never visible in public. How is this screaming out to everyone that they meet? If I chose to get a tattoo on my face or forehead, then I would totally agree with you. But I made a conscious decision to place my tattoo where it can be covered with normal clothing.

            My advice to pass along to your kids when the time comes is to wait a minimum of 6 months, a year is even better, after choosing a design for a tattoo. If you haven’t changed your mind in that period of time, then and only then should you even think about getting it tattooed.

            This has been a really good discussion. It’s always refreshing to hear from people who are against tattoos, but still have an open mind on the subject.

      • I thought this blog was great! I hear these questions myself, and I’m not even 20 yet. Keep this up, it was really interesting to read and I feel so much better, thank you for this!

      • these are real problem
        You r dumb

        • Thank you Liz. I’m glad that all of the readers of this blog are now aware that “these are real problem”.

          Next time, rather than calling me dumb in broken english, why don’t you actually contribute something by leaving a real comment.

      • You’re good. I have a few tattoos and I think this blog just became my point of refrence

  • love the blog man. as a person who plans on getting tattoos i like how you address the issues people have with them. honestly its just closed minded people that think everyone walking around with a tattoo is a rebel or thug. Tattoos are so mainstream today i cant image why people have such distorted view about people that choose to get them. keep it up :)

  • What about our our men & woman in the service protecting our Country. Have you ever seen a Marine without a Tattoo to show pride of being an American & and a Marine?

  • My opinion, don’t take it personal please:
    I am not agree with the article. I think tattoo is actually for criminals, prostitutes, freaks, slaves, jerks, plebeians, people with inferiority complex, midlife crisis or other mental issues, etc. It’s not stereotype, it’s true. People with good self-esteem and good manners don’t need to spoil their bodies and turn them into public toilet wall. Tattoo is like a dirt, skin disease or livestock brand, it makes you ugly.
    In Russia man or woman without bad habits (smoking, drinking and drug using), without tattoos, piercing and other “body modifications” looks respectable and beautiful. Or classical, natural, respectable look is “boring” and “outdated”? If you want to be “bright” and notable, why you can’t impress other people with your good manners, knowledge, skills, hobby, looking and acting like a real gentleman or lady. Is it still “boring” or too difficult for you? Why it’s easy for me?
    Your body is your appearance, you must respect it. Can you imagine a Venus or David with tattoo? They are looking disgustingly with it, right? Anyway, with tattoo you look like a kid with pencil in the nose: cool and impressive for you, but horrible and silly for others.
    I think and hope, the most of Europeans and Americans are not so vulgar and dissolute. Remember: freedom is not permissiveness, you need some limits and discipline.
    Respect yourself and your body.
    Good luck. Greetings from conservative Mother Russia.

    • Dear Sputnik,

      I am not a criminal, a prostitute, a freak, a slave, a jerk, or a plebeian. I do not have a inferiority complex nor am I going through a midlife crises. I have self-respect (high self-esteem), a very welled mannered person, and I am a professional. I do not have any kind or form of a mental illness. Therefore, tattoo’s do not exist on my body?
      You are entitled to your opinion but maybe you should get your facts straight before making yourself appear cruel and ignorant. Also, you might want to proofread your next post.

      • You should read again: The poster never said what you said she said.

      • I am not a fan of tattoos,but pay no attention to Sputnik. Putin would arrest you for spitting on the sidewalk.

  • i absolutly agree with this post.
    I am a 19 year old woman. I got my first tatto at the age of 16. I was raised with great manners. I am a smart young woman with a bright future. I have never gotten in trouble with the law nor have i ever been “gang related” I was a cheerleader in high school. The negative view about tattos piss me off. If you looked at me you wouldnt even know i had tattoos. You would think i was just another bubbly cute girl. But if you look closer i actually have tattoos.
    Tattoos dont make a person good or bad. They are an expression of what the person feels.
    Sputnik you are wrong. Im not a freak, slave, prostitue or a jerk. I have tattoos because i think they are beautiful. I dont have any self-esteem issues. I think i am a very beautiful girl. My tattos represent the most important thing in my life which is my family. Maybe you should actually look at what the tattoo means rather than classify every tattood person as a thug or gangster. I am 19 years old with 2 tattoos and i have never even seen a gang member. So before you start classifying me as a thug maybe you should know more information about me

  • Have you ever considered writing an ebook or guest authoring on other websites?

    I have a blog based on the same ideas you discuss and would love to have
    you share some stories/information. I know my visitors would appreciate
    your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free to send
    me an email.

  • You missed a major one that people say: “Tattoos last forever” when actually Tattoos are an art form on a dying canvas! There are cave paintings going back tens of thousands of years still in existance today but each tattoo art piece will only exist for 70 to 80 years and then it is gone forever.
    This thought occurred to me after getting my first tattoo done so happy I was with the design and then thinking this will die with me. :-(

    • Yeah, I have hear that one so many times, though tattoo removal does mean they are not always as permanent, my reply to these people is that, on the contrary, tattooed mummies such as ‘Otzi’ are a common enough find, and tell us a huge amount about the lives and spirituality of the individuals who lived many thousands of years ago. I think this is wonderful, I would love my tattooed pelt to be poured over by civilizations of the distant future. : )

  • Re: the “Irrational Arguments” section: there’s nothing irrational about some of those arguments. Some of them are perfectly rational – you just happen not to agree with them. Take the “bumper sticker on a Ferrari” argument. The crux of that school of thought is that the human body – hundreds of millions of years in the making by Mother Nature through the sublime process of evolution – cannot be aesthetically improved upon by an ink gun in the hands of someone who makes drawings for a living, etching a wound into living skin that is permanent. This isn’t a personal judgement on those who sport ink, it’s an honest reflection of the dissonance some people feel when they see irreversible sketches on human skin. Tattoos are made to be observed, and to some observers, seeing a tattoo has the same quality as seeing, say, a “KHOT 99.9 FM!” bumper sticker placed on the back of a beautiful $400,000 sports car. It’s a legitimate visceral reaction not necessarily associated with conservatism, judgementalism, fear, conventionalism or close-mindedness. It’s an honest matter of taste. To deride a person who generally does not appreciate tattoos for authentically aesthetic reasons, is an ugly form of stereotyping no better than any other. You may disagree with opinions relating tattoos to bumper stickers, but that’s simply your opinion. It’s not the “rational” debunking the “irrational”. People who like tattoos – who resent people who do not like tattoos – are not on a special moral high ground. I think that as much as anything, they just enjoy spending time resenting people.

    • Thanks for commenting, Robin. If you read more of my blog you will see that I have stated on a few occasions that I have no problem with people generally disliking tattoos. I don’t resent people who do not like tattoos, hold grudges against them, or hold any feeling of contempt towards them.

      If you read my post again, you will see that my argument against the bumper sticker analogy is aimed towards the analogy itself. The idea of comparing the human skin to an exotic and rare automobile.

      But I can also see things from your perspective, and what you are arguing against sounds more like my last argument, “I have never seen a tattoo that enhanced a persons beauty.” While disliking the aesthetics of tattoos is a perfectly valid reason to not get one yourself, it is not a valid argument against me getting my own tattoo. If someone who owns a $400,000 sports car wants to show support for their favorite radio station with a bumper sticker, that is their business. It isn’t hurting anyone, and for every person that sees the bumper sticker and hates it, there are probably just as many that will see it and simply recognize that the car owner might have similar music interests.

      You said yourself that the reaction to tattoos is a matter of taste. My main point that it is irrational to apply your personal likes and/or dislikes to the rest of the population.

  • Well I have a tattoo on the back of my neck with my maiden name and a butterfly. Not big. But my 3 sisters and I all did it the same day as a showing of our love for each other and those who gave us life. It is shown when I want it to be and private when I don’t. Needless to say today my daughter and I plan on getting a mother daughter tattoo and we are excited. Who cares what anyone else thinks.I do not drink, do drugs, hurt anyone, I work, raised great children so judge me based on that.

  • Here’s one for you! I read on a website that “only the less attractive get tattoos in order to enhance their looks and receive attention and that extremely attractive individuals don’t have tattoos”.

    • Please do yourself a favor and go through Maxim top 100 hot women and GQ top 100 hot men and please tell me, of the top 5 in each, which DON’T have tattoos?

  • My grandmother is 64 and has 3 tattoos which she got over the last 5 years. People are so damn hypocritical.

  • Very interesting blog, interesting replies as well. I’d like to make note of something. In the final paragraphs of rebuttal #2, you mention that 40% of people within your age group have tattoos. That’s almost half. Rebuttal #3 is in response to the idea that people get tattoos because everyone else is doing it, and yet you say only 21% of the general population have tattoos. If that’s the case, the highest percentage of those people that do happen to choose to get tattoos also happen to be within your age group. Followers don’t follow people outside of the group they wish to belong to. Perhaps the influence of almost half the people within your age group having tattoos played a larger role in your decision to tattoo yourself than you’re willing to admit. People may bluster in pride that they aren’t influenced by the herd, but something encouraged 40% of young people these days to get tattoos.

    • Tattoos are on the rise throughout all demographics and I happen to fall within one of the age groups that is statistically the most tattooed. I have never been a rebel, but I have also never been one to follow the crowd. The popularity of tattoos today makes it virtually impossible to avoid interacting with people with tattoos. The more tattoos I saw and the more I learned about tattooing in general, the more interested I became in getting one.

      I did my research and waited years before eventually deciding on my tattoo design. I
      believe that my decision to get tattooed had more to do with society’s higher level of acceptance of tattoos than trying to fit into a certain crowd. I also feel that there is a difference between being influenced by the herd and trying desperately to become a member.

      You also missed an important part of my #3 argument, “The biggest issue I have with this argument is that it’s just lumping all people with tattoos into one big group.”

      Some people want to get tattooed just for the sake of getting tattooed and decide to walk into a random tattoo shop with their friends and pick a piece of flash art off the wall that hundreds of people before them are already walking around with. Others will commission an artist to create a custom piece of artwork that has deep personal meaning to them. Both of these people will answer yes when surveyed about whether they are tattooed, but to me they fall into very different categories.

      Polls also show that the vast majority of people with tattoos (over 70%) say that their tattoos are not normally visible. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/files/2010/10/millennials-confident-connected-open-to-change.pdf People often claim that tattoos are all about seeking attention, but I think this statistic goes a long way towards countering that argument and also the idea that everyone with tattoos is just trying to fit in.

  • Thanks for your effort.

  • The clincher for me is simply that there is never, under any circumstances, a downside to not having a tattoo. It starts no conversations, invites nobody to judge your taste or good sense or self-esteem issues, costs nothing, wastes no time, doesn’t hurt, can’t give you hepatitis, and can never be regretted. And you can always change your mind.

    • I can think of lots of things that don’t have a downside if they are not done, but that isn’t a reason not to do them.

      Is there any real downside to not skydiving? You don’t invite yourself to the risk of slamming into the ground at terminal velocity, it doesn’t cost you anything, won’t subject you to judgments from people who think you are crazy for doing it, won’t give you altitude sickness and won’t waste any of your time. But tell that to anyone who loves doing it.

      The only thing on your list that is somewhat unique to tattoos is that it is very difficult to change your mind about them once you go through with it if you grow to regret the decision. Everything else can apply to thousands of things that people participate in and enjoy on a regular basis.

      I also don’t agree that there are no circumstances where not having a tattoo doesn’t have a downside, and you even mentioned one in your own comment. “It starts no conversations”. I posted a while back about how my tattoos have served as an icebreaker and lead to some great conversations on quite a few occasions. I love this about tattoos, so missing out on those conversations would be a definite downside for me.

  • Nice try! But there is a downside to not skydiving, i.e. depriving yourself of an experience which, if you survive, you certainly won’t regret, and which is far more likely to enhance your prestige than to dim it. Compare that with getting a tattoo, which is not exactly an achievement, and will inevitably cause many people to make negative judgements about you throughout your life, though few, perhaps, will express them openly. So if you have half a brain you’ll often wonder whether it was an ill-advised move, after all. It was, but the damage is done, permanently, so you’ll have to keep toughing it out until you’re old enough to blame it on your youth. As far as the “look how I disfigured my body!” gambit for starting a conversation goes, just sticking a pencil in your eye would be even more effective.

    • We can go back and forth all day giving examples of things that have or don’t have downsides, but we aren’t going to get anywhere. I see the positive side to getting tattoos and for me they outweigh the downsides. This to me is far more important than the triple negative argument that you outlined. You have weighed the pros and cons and obviously reached a different conclusion.

      I gave you my downside for not being tattooed and you dismissed it by comparing having a tattoo to jabbing a pencil in my eye. I can assure you that the conversations started by my tattoos are for more interesting than, “Hey buddy, do you need me to call you an ambulance, you seem to have a pencil in your eye.”

      I can live with the fact that certain people will judge me based on my tattoos, but I see that as more of their issue than mine. And I don’t wonder whether my tattoos were an ill-advised move because for me they were not. They were not done in haste during my youth and a significant amount of thought went into the decision. So it’s not a matter of “toughing it out”, but a choice that I am honestly happy with and have no regrets about.

  • The pencil is the eye was only a rhetorical flourish –please don’t do it!

    It’s”their” issue only to the extent that “they” are of no importance to you, which will not alway be the case. I’m glad you’re happy with your tattoo, though I would expect you to claim to be even when assailed by doubts, or when someone is candid enough to say, “I think that’s hideous/pathetic/foolish/a gratuitious and grievous self-inflicted wound to your reputation. I’m sorry, but the deal is off!”

    But I’ll let you have the last word. Goodbye, and thanks for publishing a dissenting opinion.

  • Generally I do not like tattoos. However I believe very much in live and let live. It is a persons right to choose what they do with their own body. That being said the choice in artwork that many people make surprises me as often they will permanently etch something on their skin that they would never wear on a piece of clothing or put on their wall because the art would be deemed too tacky or otherwise seen as kitsch.
    Everyone has a right to dress as they please and the same goes for tattoos, but no one is obligated to admire a tattoo that is ugly, baroque or just plain unappealing.

    • With the exception of generally not liking tattoos, I am in total agreement with you. I have seen plenty of tattoos out there that I would never consider putting on my own body. But I also think there is a lot of tattoo art out there that wouldn’t work well in other forms. A piece that looks great wrapped around the contours of the human body might not translate well on a flat canvas. Proper placement of tattoos on the body is a very important part of the tattoo artists job and unfortunately they don’t all get it right.

      No one is obligated to admire anything about the way anyone else looks. No matter what style you choose for yourself, there will be those who admire it and those who find it ugly or unappealing. I have stated many times in my writing that I don’t care if you don’t like my tattoos, just don’t make assumptions about me because of them.

  • I think what stuck with me most is your point that tattoos are a reminder, not ONLY a reminder but a catalyst. I really appreciate that statement. I was born in South Africa, am an Australian citizen and currently live in Los Angeles. I have the Southern Cross on my chest (Aus), a tribal map of Africa on my back, and am currently in the process of designing something relating to America, which will connect the two. I have moved around all my life due to my father’s work and never had a place to call home. So, home is where my heart is, which is why i got the southern cross on my chest. But, in the back of my heart is where I was born, this being the reason i got Africa on my back. Finally, my time in America is tugging at my love for both my home country and the place i call home, thus the reason I am getting this tattoo.

    These tattoos have been a visual catalyst, reminding me where I have come from. It reminds me of the countless life, cultural and emotional lessons I have learnt along the way. I hear of people regretting tattoos but how could i regret the lessons i’ve learnt? My tattoos are a visual reminder to remain humble, remember these lessons and strive forward as a global individual.

    As you said as well, they aren’t simply a reminder. It’s an expression of who I am.

    • Thanks for the comment. The idea of describing tattoos as a catalyst came to me in a conversation about scars and to date is the most accurate way I can think of to describe my tattoos. I’m glad to see that someone else was able to relate so well to this idea.

      I have the same reaction as you when talking about tattoo regret. My tattoos represent a time in my life when I went through some pretty amazing changes. Those times got me to where I am today and shaped me into who I am now. I never want to forget the path I took to get here.

  • Everyone is more than welcome to have their opinion and express it, but no where in this article did the author insult anyone — at least not intentionally. The responses, however, are COMPLETELY insulting to anyone with body modifications or not. Is it WRONG for someone who witnessed the horrors of war (and survived) to want to get a tribute to their country? You have NO idea what these people go through every day of their lives, just as you know nothing about my life, the author’s life or ANY ONE ELSE’S. Plebeians, Sputnik, really? I have to admit that is a new one. News flash, it’s the 21st Century, not ancient Rome, and I’m pretty sure slavery is pretty frowned upon today. I absolutely love reading posts from the people who show their success — all while having tattoos. Making a decision to do something to your body, permanent or not, is not a reflection of work ethics. In fact, I find it EXTREMELY unprofessional for companies not to hire someone just because their body is modified. Any job you apply for has a certain dress code or uniform. If the tattoo is not breaching that or isn’t wildly inappropriate, then what reason do you have not to hire the employee? That is not a fact, that is my opinion, and that is me respectfully expressing it. I am not “bashing” against anyone here. I just don’t see why people with or without tattoos have to go around and condemn or insult people for something that ultimately DOES NOT EFFECT THEM IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM

  • I love what you have written here! I am female RN with a BSN and am currently working towards a MSN/MHA (Masters of Nursing and a Masters in health care administration). I have two tattoos that are covered by my scrubs (the one can be seen only occasionally depending on the neckline of my scrub top). I have never gotten anything but compliments of my tattoos and have used them to break the ice with patients. I have worked most of my career in the nursing home setting and many of the residents have several tattoos. And I can vouch that tattoos do not “melt” with age, and many of them were as vibrant as the day they were inked. More often than not I am able to asses mood and health by just sitting and talking with them, and one of things we talk about is when/where we each got our tattoos!

  • These arguments annoy the hellllll out of me! I have seven tattoos, two of them (one on each wrist) can be seen easily or covered up. You can’t go through a magazine now a days and not see a tattoo on a model, or walk down the street and not see some ink on someone.

    I don’t have issues with my self esteem, I’ve always been a highly creative intuitive person and basically just enjoy any art form. I often say artist’s are my favorite people, due to the fact that when you listen, see or read art the artist is showing you a piece of themselves; which is exactly how I see tattoos on someone’s body.

    Working in the health care field and with the elderly I’ve seen many tattoos that are far older then me and they still look great, and no they do not sag. Yes some can be discolored simply due to the equipment back then and it not being as sophisticated as it is today.

    As for people having low self esteem, being sluts, dirty w.e it all comes off as being unintelligent when making arguments or accusations such as these when discussing tattoos. There has never been a true right or wrong or label for anything, these are rules and thoughts made up by society in order to keep the general population in line. There is no law in the universe stating a woman is a slut if she has a tattoo or gets one. Seriously people do you ever question your ideals and thought process?

    It’s perfectly fine not to view tattoos as attractive, everyone is different. I don’t find the combination of dark hair and eyes attractive so what? As far as tattoos go, yeah there are some that are unattractive if they are profane and insulting to a group of people ect. Just don’t go around bashing people, show some respect for people’s choices in life especially if they aren’t hurting anyone or the general population.

    It’s your life to live, so live your life and fuck off when it comes to other people living theirs.


    • Speaking “keeping in line” your entire post was “in line” of often used comebacks made by people who have tattoos. And your favorite people are artists. Go figure.

  • I am currently in the Air Force and understand what you say and have the same views as you on the fact that if you don’t care if people resent you for having them. I see people at stores come up to me in uniform and tell me he has a tattoo watch out he might be affiliated with a gang. Well all I do is open my top and show them mine to disapprove that fact. Long story short thank you for playing this.

  • Older guy here and yes I have a few tattoos from my younger days in the military. IMPO I think the whole tattoo craze has taken something that really used to be an individualistic expression and made it just another thing that everyone does when they hit 18. YES I realize that is a broad stroked statement with little statistical truth behind it which is why I said it’s my opinion. Like a$$ holes we’ve all got one. :-)

    I’ve read every argument from both sides and I really do believe it comes down to simply being a personal choice. I would just pray that a person would follow the authors advice and seriously consider the tattoo for a period of time before getting it. Like being engaged, take the time to weigh all the possibilities before committing yourself. All too often people rush into a tattoo without taking the time to get to know the artist or their work. Like any artist tattooists have varying skill levels and most have developed a certain signature to their work. Make sure to match up what you want with an artist that can appropriately provide it.

    Thanks for the great conversations and your well thought out responses.


  • my tattoos have and always be a story line of my life.. yes my likes and dislikes change.. my styles change.. but like mentioned above.. my life lesson don’t.. they jusy get added to.. having a tattoo done is a time stamp of my life at that time.. I would never regret what my life or my path in life is.. as we get older we do tent to forget, my tattoos are a picture book of my life.. my family etc.. that can never be lost or taken from me..

    • Ellipsis are “…”. Maybe you should get a tattoo about them to remind you?

  • I have nothing bad to say about tattoos nor will I think anything negative about people getting tattooed. At the end of the day it that individuals body and they have the right to do what they want. To people who say tattoos aren’t beautiful/are ugly are seriously mistaken. In many cases people choose to get a cover up tattoo on things like e.g Scars, ex lovers names or as a beauty stamp for any imperfections they may have. This may help with someones personal insecurities which is beautiful in its own way. There’s also times where females who have faught breast cancer get tattoos over there scars. This is a huge turning point in a persons life where they say goodbye to that part of their life and embrace there newly beautiful body which may help them overcome any negative thoughts. Most tattoos have real meaning behind them that helps them remember that certain happy time etc in their lives. I am currently looking forward for when I get my first tattoo, and am excited for when I can look at this new beautifly amazing addition to my skin. Not all tattoos are rushed, unplanned or ugly. Much thought goes into this process, So before people say it is wrong, ugly a disgrace or whatever are seriously delusional and should quit judging people and getting involved in what they do to themselves. You may be pretty and have no ink, but we shall be pretty with showings of creativeness. And if we are “ugly” on the outside, then you are imperfect and ugly on the inside for openly judging people. Didn’t mean to rant, that is all :)

  • I dropped today in to read the subsequent comments, and would like to point out that my position is not that tattoos should be banned or that they are the mark of the devil, but simply that getting a tattoo is objectively an unwise choice in almost every instance, and most particularly during a craze. No one wants to be seen in clothes that are out of style, but you’re pretty much stuck with your tattoos. A fashionable and tattooed young friend in Sydney has just confirmed to me that the craze is over in Australia –the “in” crowd regrets them, hides them, and wants them removed. Why? Because like all fashions, this one was ultimately adopted by too many of the wrong sort of people. When “everybody’s doing it” the cool people stop doing it, and eventually “everybody” stops. None of you figured that out? Subcutaneous ink is not a strong indicator of brains, apparently.

  • Nothing against tattoos, I really like them but…, what’s up with those dudes with tattoos on their foreheads? or face? it’s their body I know but basically they are getting isolated.

  • I think tattoos are amazing. It is a way for people to express themselves. So many people don’t like it but it wont stop them from getting them. Most peoples tattoos tell a story either they could not tell or could not describe it. Tattoos do not make the person bad or a criminal. Most people with tattoos are actually quite nice. I had a doctor one time with quite a few tattoos and he sat and talked with me about them and how when he visits the old people he talks about his tattoos with them he even said their are old people there who have tattoos and are proud of them. I don’t see the point in hating on people with tattoos I mean its like them hating on you for your clothes because they don’t like them. Its pointless to argue about something you cant prevent anyway so its a waste of breath and time.

  • So first you say this:

    “Considering the fact that close to 40% of people in my age group have tattoos, if I do end up in a nursing home when I’m older, I expect to be in good company”

    But then, like, three sentences later, you say this:

    “I am the only person in my family with tattoos, a small percentage of my friends have tattoos, very few of my co-workers have tattoos, and only about 21% of the general population have tattoos.”

    I’m not trying to bring down your entire argument structure with simple arithmetic. You make lots of good arguments and i have absolutely nothing against tattoos, though I am uninked. I just think that if either of these arguments is restricting somebody from getting one, those two rebuttals are just going to cause more confusion for them.

    I’m aware that you use the word GENERAL population when you hit us with the 21% figure. But you DO also say that only a “small percentage” of your friends have them. 40% is not a small percentage. I realize as well that you’re probably trying to identify two completely different groups of people when you present these numbers. I’m just saying, to someone who is ink-shy like me, it’s confusing and doesn’t offer me too much information.

    The best argument against tattooing is if I say to myself “Ella, I simply don’t want one.” Similarly the best argument in favour of tattooing is if I say to myself “Ella, I simply want one.” but deciding which argument is going to win IS, really, based on a lot of concerns that you address here. You address them well but I still maintain that these are not irrational arguments to somebody who constantly has to explain to others why she doesn’t have any. I don’t feel like getting a cosmetic procedure that will not age well if I don’t do frequent housekeeping on it, for example. There is enough housekeeping involved in aging as it is.

    Though my main reason for not wanting one is permanence. Right now, there is nothing in my life that will hold the sort of permanent fixation necessary to ensure i never regret the thing. I’m not sure if this is considered irrational or not. I just know that I spent years trying to decide on one before I finally figured out that I don’t want to assign that sort of permanence to anything in my life. Am I overthinking things? Probably. Do I have a fear of commitment? Most certainly. To me, none of my concerns are irrational.

    • The 21% and 40% figures came from a national poll, which you can see here: http://www.harrisinteractive.com/NewsRoom/HarrisPolls/tabid/447/mid/1508/articleId/970/ctl/ReadCustom%20Default/Default.aspx
      My age group currently has the largest percentage of people who reported having tattoos. Many of my friends, family and co-workers do not fall into the same age range as me and are not an accurate representation of the general population. I also have a few friends who have small tattoos that remain hidden almost all the time and I never think of them as “tattooed” . I guess when I said that very few of my friends are tattooed, a more accurate statement would have been “very few of my friends are heavily or visibly tattooed.”

      Your reasons do not sound irrational at all to me. In fact, not wanting something permanent on your body or just not being able to find anything that you think you would be happy with forever is one of the most logical and rational reasons I can think of for not getting tattooed. If there is any doubt in your mind, you should not get a tattoo. I would never try to convince someone that a tattoo was right for them and you shouldn’t ever have to explain to people why you don’t have or want tattoos.

      My post was aimed more at people who try to convince others that tattoos are a bad idea using these arguments.

  • I am a Tattoo artist and I definitely will not tattoo someone who does not believe in this religion… Enthusiasts should educate themselves and make sure that it is treated as an extension of the art of living.

  • Really cool point of view, thoroughly enjoyed the read, doing research about tattoos and you helped debunk a lot of myths that I had heard. Thanks a mill

  • I do not have tattoos and will most likely never have any. For me the most sensible argument against having a tattoo is that I will have to live with it/them for life. When you decorate your home you can change the decor to reflect your changing taste. Not so with tattoos. I can change my dress, my hairstyle, my nails etc. but my tattoo is a constant. I’d get bored if I was stuck with one thing.

    I respect your right to have tattoos and I hope you will respect my right to not have them.

    I will say this. If I had to meet a potential mate and he had tattoos, I would not find them appealing but it would not be a deal breaker.

    By the by, one of your arguments contradicts another. In one line you talk about not having regrets as you age because 40% of your generation have tattoos but in the next line you argue about not being a sheep because you’re one of only a few who have them. I think you listed 21%. Either way, the figures don’t add up. A debate requires that you use accurate information. I’m not sure that this stat is accurate because other sites list 8%. It’s interesting to note that 75% of all prisoners have tattoos.

    • If you do not like the idea of having something permanent on your body, that is a perfectly valid reason not to get tattooed. But as I have mentioned a few times before somewhere on this blog, my tattoos might remain constant, but every day that I put clothes on I can choose how much or how little of it I want to show.

      I absolutely respect your right to not have tattoos. This article is supposed to be speaking to people who use these arguments against the tattoos of others.

      As for your question about the contradiction in my statistics, I recently answered this same question. Just look a few comments above yours.

      I always strive to provide the most accurate data available in my posts and the numbers came from a 2012 Harris poll. It is the most up-to-date and complete survey that I am aware of that breaks down tattoo statistics by age range. I’m not sure where you found the 8% statistic, but I cannot help the fact that there may be conflicting information out there.

      You might find it interesting that a high percentage of prisoners have tattoos, but unless you can show me some data that shows a high percentage of people with tattoos are in prison, I see it as a meaningless correlation.

  • Thank you for this post. I have gotten one tattoo and I love it. I am totally accepting of people who do not want tattoos. I just think that everyone should try and accept those who want them. Getting a tattoo does not affect anyone but the person who has them and I would hope that people would give that some consideration.
    Thank you for sharing your opinion Paul, I agree with what you have said.

  • Rejoice!! The Parolee Look is in!!

    (and you can have it)

  • In response to #10: I will not date a tattooed girl. I don’t even look twice at a tattooed girl.

    • Did you even read what I wrote before commenting? You didn’t really respond to my point, you just repeated the point I was arguing against.

  • People see themselves as a junk yard. They booz, put tattoo and pierce themselves, use drugs, sex to left and right and even use the body as a marketplace for ads. If for example a soldier who have no self value and see himself as a junk yard how can he/she value any body else more? Soldiers fighting for who? dies for who and what? people are like sheep and fight on commando and even tattoo themselves on commando.

    • That was the most cruel and ignorant thing I ever heard anyone say about tattooed people.

      So I guess Theodore Roosevelt was a bad person because he had a tattoo of his family crest on his chest?

      For the love of Pete, get on the computer and do some research before you judge. You can’t just put everyone into one category. If no one is the same, why should tattooed people be any different?

    • I have tattoos ( all of them from 2 years ago) but I am still a virgin, rarely drink alcohol (if I do, it is wine) and I have never pierced myself in insane places (ex: genitals and nipples) and never plan to.

      So how can all tattooed people be the same?

    • Oh, and I’ve never smoked or done drugs, and never plan to do either.

  • I loved the post! I have a full sleeve down my left arm from my shoulder to my knuckles. I always get asked why would you do that to your skin or why did you spend all that money that way? I agree with you that its my money and my skin. Most of the time I wont even tell people what they mean because I don’t put them on display for conversations its just an expression. I have tattoos from my brother passing away and my daughter being born. the meanings are very important times in my life that remind me or the good times or bad. like you said you like to look at them and go back in your mind. I think that anybody should be able to do anything they want to their bodies. I have seen people with face tattoos and who am I to judge them for that when I have the top of my hand tattooed? people associate us with terrible people or stupid people, when the person with no tattoos could be a convicted rapist….you just never really know a person especially by tattoos. you cant judge a book by its cover right? I met a man once who was covered with demon tattoos and things that seemed very demonic but he was at the store with his family (little kids). He was awesome! nicest guy I have ever met. we talked about our tattoos for 5 mins in the middle of the store. you cant be afraid of somebody that looks different then you even if they choose to be that way. I’ve met old men who loved my tattoos and young people that hated them it just depends on how they were raised or how they think society “should be”.

    P.S. I have never once had an issue finding a job with all of my tattoos. Your tattoos don’t affect your skill set. If a company wont hire you because you have tattoos but you have the skills to preform the job, then can you really see yourself retiring with that company??

    anyway thanks for trying to make a difference with all the people that dislike us!

  • I don’t like tattoos at all, and quite frankly don’t associate myself with thous people if at all possible. I believe that tattoos are in fact a form of self harm and anyone tattooed only chose this so called form of “expression” because of some form of subconscious psychological malfunction.

    • Thanks for sharing your opinion. I’m just curious to know what qualifies you to make psychological evaluations on an entire group of people who you go out of your way to not associate with. If you don’t associate with tattooed people, how could you possibly know anything about us?

      As someone who not only has tattoos, but regularly associating with many tattooed people, I think I’m far more qualified to discuss the psychological state of people who get tattooed. I can tell you for a fact that most of us do not fit your description. Rather than assuming things about the unknown, try engaging and asking questions. You might actually learn something.

      • What qualifies me : reading/learning about psychology (in my spare time,although quite extensive, as I’m a IT Engineer).
        I said I try to avoid associating… doesn’t always work, I’m forced sometimes to work with various men/women with tattoos… and I assure you … I could see the psychopathology in every one of them (mostly attention whoring because of problems in their upbringing (so called “daddy issues”) and severe insecurities relating to their appearance).
        Also , for some reason, depression seem to be very common with thous people.

        • I’m sure these observations do hold true in some cases, but it still sounds like you have only interacted with a relatively small sample of tattooed people. I can honestly say that I do not exhibit a single one of the traits you mentioned. I had a perfectly normal upbringing and still maintain a healthy relationship with both of my parents. Attention whoring was and never will be my thing, I have no issues with my appearance and have never suffered from depression. If you had to work with me today, I would be willing to bet you would never guess that I had tattoos.

          Perhaps there is also some confirmation bias at work in your observations about tattooed people. You see a tattoo and look for flaws that you think should be there, while not subjecting others to the same level of scrutiny. Your observations may also be related to those people with highly visible tattoos and you may very well have worked with many more tattooed people than you realize. According to some polls, up to 70% of people with tattoos say they are hidden under normal clothing.

          Just some things for you to think about.

          • I admit the confirmation bias may be at play in some part in the observations I’ve made. However I am not convinced that there is no difference between tattooed and non-tattooed individuals. The very existence of the need to mark your body (whether for others to see or not) is proof enough of some sort of psychological issue. I have turned down dates with women that were visibly tattooed, and ,as I found out latter (from the poor schmuck that dated them) I saved myself a lot of headache just by using this little heuristic (don’t date tattooed women).

            • The very existence of the need to mark your body (whether for others to see or not) is proof enough of some sort of psychological issue.

              I guess our definitions of “proof” are very different. What I see in your statement is a very generalized assumption with absolutely no proof to back it up. Just because you aren’t convinced of something, doesn’t make it true.

              What I don’t agree with is making this a completely black or white issue. You are dividing the world into 2 groups, tattooed or not tattooed. But there are many varieties of tattoos that can have a wide range of meanings.

              Are you trying to say that a woman with a discrete tattoo on her back to memorialize the death of her mother is no different than someone with their face covered in racist symbols? Is someone covered in prison tattoos no different than someone who waited years and traveled to Japan to get a sleeve tattooed by a master of the art? Is someone who got a tribal arm band while on spring break shortly after turning 18 no different than a woman tattooing over her mastectomy scars? Each of these people have drastically different motivations behind their tattoos. To see them all as the same is absurd in my opinion.

              Since I’m already married to a tattooed woman, I guess I won’t be dating any. But thanks for the tip.

    • Are you ok with women piercing their ears, then?

      They are still mutilating their body. I don’t hear anyone call them vile names or mentally ill.

    • FYI: I’m being sarcastic when I say “mutilating.”

  • Egypt holds the oldest recorded history of a tattooed human: The famous tattooed mummy is Egyptian, her name is Amunet, Priestess of the Goddess Hathor. He (God) took the people out of Egypt but he cannot take Egypt out of the People… In Scripture there is a prohibition against “carved” images, cutting ones flesh and markings.

    Just recently scientists have taken the first look at tattooed skin under an “atomic force” microscope. Scientists have actually seen tattoo pigment nano-particles in this capacity and for the first time, researchers were able to determine that the tattoo ink is leaving the site of injection and moving across the collegian barrier of the skin. Not only is this ink evident in the collagen network of the skin, but it was also discovered in the blood vessels there as well. Once these inks are in the blood stream, they have the potential to easily travel to other areas of the body, including the vulnerable organs as well as other tissues. This newly discovered information is raising major concerns in the medical and research field.

  • I personally would never get a tattoo as my tastes change way too often. Things that I loved five years ago I not really care about and I would worry that I would get a tattoo that I loved now and in five years time wouldn’t really like it too much. But my personal preference should not have any impact on what other people choose to do with their bodies.

  • Tattoos and odd piercings indicate poor judgment above all else. People with tattoos sound pathetic and whiny when trying to defend their position. While I’m sure you could name leaders and innovators who have had tattoos, I’m certain they are a smaller minority than the general population. Tattoos on women should be a deal breaker but most guys see it as a sign she will put out more easily. There’s a reason they call them tramp stamps. Given that there’s a strong likelihood the tattoo will be regretted, it makes the decision easier.

    • Actually, I’d be more inclined to say that ‘men who disrespect others choices and expect women to conform to their standards, labelling them as sexual objects if they do not’ should be a deal breaker. If you’d like to hear something that is truly pathetic, try reading your comment aloud.

      • There is nothing wrong with passing judgment based on a choice someone else makes. The tattoo removal business will always thrive as long as people make foolish, impulsive choices. Further, while my post may have been strident, there is a denial of consequences for actions that is tiresome. Anecdotally, I’ve seen more swastika tattoos than I have peace symbol tattoos.

        • Where do you get the idea that tattoos are usually regretted? I hear this type of statement thrown around a lot, but any real data that I have seen on the subject says otherwise. It is a false assumption to think that people with tattoos are not thinking of the future and that the choice is impulsive and foolish. I put a lot of thought into the design and placement of my tattoos and have no reason to regret them now or ten years down the road.

          I can’t speak for everyone with tattoos and I have seen my share of bad ink that will, in all likelihood, lead to regret in the future. But trying to lump all tattooed people together into one big group is ridiculous. Tell me exactly the consequences I am denying by defending my tattoos?

          • There is liittle tangible evidence with regard to the long-term ill effects of tattoos. The consensus is that visible tattoos are not acceptable in a buttoned-down office environment. Further, excessive tattooing creates additional challenges in covering them up and have negative health consequences. Making an argument in favor of limited, isolated tattoos just sounds weak.
            Why complicate and limit your life needlessly? There is a stigma attached to tattoos. It is incumbent upon those getting tattoos to be mindful of the bigger, long-term picture.

          • There is plenty of evidence showing the dangers of sun exposure, but I still enjoy my time at the beach. Like most of the choices we make in life there are benefits and consequences. Given the fact that there is no real evidence showing the dangers of tattoos, I’ll just take my chances for now.

            There is no consensus when it comes to tattoos in the workplace. I work in a corporate environment where I am free to show my tattoos. In the event of a job change, due to my deliberate choice in placement of my tattoos, I can easily cover them if necessary. If you are talking about excessive tattoos, then I would agree with some of your statements. I have stated on many occasions on this blog that I encourage people to get tattoos in areas that can by easily covered by normal clothes. My tattoos are far from limited and isolated, yet still fit this criteria. I’m not sure how wearing a long-sleeved shirt every once in a while complicates and limits my life in any way.

            I am well aware of the stigma attached to tattoos and that stigma was the driving force behind the creation of this blog. For me, the long term-picture involves breaking down the stigma, not running away from it.

  • I find it interesting that people who do not have tattoos feel the need to judge and impose their opinions on those who do. Yet, I can’t say I have ever seen a person with tattoos criticise somebody who does not have them. We do not have to agree with the choices of others, and we may not always understand them. But if a person is unable to accept and respect the preferences of others, it really only speaks volumes about them, not the person with a tattoo.

    • There is nothing wrong with judging the actions of others. Tattoos are usually regretted by the recipient. Should we therefore be more aggressive in our admonitions? I think at this point we are erring on the side of do what you want to now, don’t worry about ten years from now.

      • There’s nothing wrong with being upset with people’s choices. But to hate them for it? They are human just like you are.

  • I think this post is beautiful.

  • Tattoos are great! The only one you should never get is another persons name. This was a great read.

  • I also used to think having a tattoo didn’t necessarily say anything about a person. I’ve become more ambivalent about tattoos in the past two years though because my sister got a large one after she acquired a group of friends that loved tattoos. Through social osmosis, I started being exposed to larger samples of tattooed people at parties and gatherings. I noticed the following: these people were as intellectually diverse as the general population, but a majority had impetuous, easily bored, and spur-of- the-moment personalities. Thanks Man!

  • Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles
    as long as I provide credit and sources back to your website?
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  • Your response in #9 is perfect. Hahaha
    I turned 17 a month ago and I’ve been trying to convince my mother to let me get a tattoo for a while now, despite her negative attitude towards it, my reasoning is beyond justifiable in my own opinion. I obviously can’t show you what I plan on getting but the story behind it is that I have been suffering from depression badly since I was 13, always being bullied for being different, I ended up moving around a lot and some more personal issues regarding family trauma. However the reasoning for me wanting my tattoo is it comments on how strong a person I am, I’ve been through a shit load of grief (pardon my French) and my tattoo sketches show that through my own artistic ability. I will get my tattoo some time this year and I honestly could go through life happy with that decision, showing the world and myself a visual representation of what I went through and how I’m still here is something I can be proud of despite the judgment that comes from today’s society.
    If one reason isn’t enough, through my rough patches of depression self harming was the only thing that ever felt real to me so you can imagine all the scars I have on my arms, you don’t know what it’s like to be walking around in a singlet in a public area eg a shopping mall being stared at by everyone cause you have scars all up your arm, I brought that on myself but it’s not easy and regardless, tattoo or scars I’m going to get judged either way.
    My life, my decisions. I’ll do what make me happy not what makes everyone else happy.

    I like your blog btw :)

  • I♡U Paul
    Thanks for giving us “Tatted” professionals a voice. I just lauche my own boutique celebrating the art of tattooing. I’m also a medical assistant & I’ve been in health care for 15yrs. I’m a successful business woman & mom of two children who loves mommy tattoos. It’s my canvas & I love to express my art!

  • Sure, there are some bad tattoos out there, but, generally speaking, I ‘d rather have a tattoo than a giant corn cob up my butt like many of the tattoo haters.

    No stranger has ever had the nerve to insult my tattoos, when I choose to show them, but I’ve gotten a lot of compliments and interesting conversations about mine (or theirs).

    “Show me a man with a tattoo and I’ll show you a man with an interesting past.” — Jack London

  • I find it interesting that most articles that discuss an opinion of tattoos seem to have people who are uneducated and just throw out insults as justification for tattoos being bad than the people who support tattoos. With the exception of Woooohoo, most people who are opposed to tattoos seem rather close minded, and frankly incapable of forming a complete sentence. It’s sad that even though the “weak” arguments against tattoos were the ones discussed in this blog, they are the most common.

    I used to be against getting tattoos, not because I have a problem with anyone else getting a tattoo, but because I believed myself to be too fickle to permanently alter my body. Over the years, I have overcome remarkable obstacles and my views on tattoos have changed. I now have two, both in locations that very few people will ever see, but both as the author of this blog stated “triggers” to remind me of what I have overcome and how much strength I have to face any obstacle that may come my way.

    I appreciated reading a blog that actually utilized logic behind the arguments regardless of whether you are for or against tattoos. Thank you.

  • Paul,

    I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am that you created this blog. I am currently attending the University of Art and Design in Santa Fe NM, and for my writing class I need to write three papers on tattoos. I also need to create an arguing statement on the reputation of tattoos and why they are disliked by many.
    I myself have tattoos. A quarter sleeve and my back. I have been most fortunate with my career path as I am a self employed hairdresser also the highest rated in Santa Fe! It amazes me the misconception people have about tattoos. I believe everyone does have a right to their beliefs and opinion. However, most people who do judge with inaccurate information need to be prepared to have a bit of a debate. Which is what my paper is about.
    You can dislike tattoos, fine, but I would like to educate those who only ask surface questions such as the ones you shared. I do get asked all these ridiculous question by new clients in the salon, and once they see the magic I do with their hair and get to know me more, their impression of me changes and I have won a new client and later on a friend.
    Tattooed people are like anyone else. from A-holes to church goers. We are just people, a ball of energy living in a shell and what we do with our shell is up to us as individuals. It is what we leave behind as people that really matters. Our legacy, not our tattoos.
    I found it to be interesting as I was researching the history of tattoos, that in Egypt, the mummy of Amunet was found dating back to 2055-2004 BC. Her tattoos consisted of tiny dots that created geometric shapes that covered her body quite extensively. Amunet was the preistess of Hathor the goddess of love, motherhood and joy. I was able to see pictures of her body and was in awe of the historical findings.

    My paper is not to change your mind about liking tattoos, but to be more understanding. I enjoyed reading the pros and cons and appreciate reading the apposing side as they too had some compelling arguments and if it weren’t for you folks, I would not have an awesome paper to write.

    Thanks Paul for the blog :)

    Happy Holidays everyone <3

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