5 Reasons Why Tattoos Are a Bad Idea

Sorry about the technical problems yesterday! Damn hackers…

Before I go on, I must clarify that there are many, many reasons why tattoos are a good idea (they can look really beautiful, amongst other reasons…) However in recent times, I have started to wonder whether people are really considering the permanence of a tattoo, before going ahead and getting inked. Last week I went to see Social Distortion (an amazing rock/punk band who was awesome, in case you are wondering) and their lead singer, Mike Ness (a man covered in tattoos) made reference to the fact that tattoos were becoming very commonplace. He said that there were tattoo parlours on every street corner, and that people were going “straight for the neck.”

He is right, and that is a bit scary. I have experimented with neck tattoos (meaning, I put fake ones onto my neck for fun) and I was shocked at the sudden change in how people looked at me. Having a tattoo on your neck is basically saying “This message on my neck is me, forever, and I am so into this that I am willing to have it next to my face for the rest of my life.” In fact, most big or obvious tattoos are sending a message, and I don’t feel that writing messages on your skin is for everyone. Rock stars? Sure. But the rest of you, beware, and consider these 5 reasons why tattoos are a bad idea.

tattoos, celebrities, fashion lists, fashion dos and donts

Charlize Theron’s blurry fish is a good example of why you want to make sure to get a great artist. If not, the tattoo bleeds and blurs and looks like crap.

1. A tattoo is permanent. Are you confident enough today to make a decision about the partner, job, or house you want to live with or in for the rest of your life? Probably not. I know that there are a lot of things I am not sure of (although partner, yes) because life can change, and so can your tastes. The thing is, most of those things can be changed, but a tattoo can’t. If you have one you don’t like, you can try to cover it (not always easy), have it removed (and deal with a gross scar for the rest of your life) or learn to live with it. If its a tiny motif on your back, you may be able to live with it. If its an entire sleeve, you’re in trouble. You are probably not ready to make permanent decisions about your life, so why would you make them about your appearance? If you have to have a tat, at least give yourself a few years to think about the design.

tattoos, celebrities, fashion lists, fashion dos and donts

Christina Ricci’s lion looks like a really bad children’s sketch.

2. It is hard to choose good artwork. This goes back to the haircut analogy. You may be loving quiffs or frogs right now in life. But what if you hate quiffs and frogs in five years? Well, you can stop styling your hair into a quiff, but that frog is stuck on you. And don’t be stupid and tattoo a name on yourself (unless it is a family member or someone who is dead, that is ok, sometimes.)

tattoos, celebrities, fashion lists, fashion dos and donts

Kelly Osbourne’s tattoo, when translated, says “I like you the mother.” Could she not have found someone who spoke proper French to do a translation?

3. Not everyone approves of tattoos. It is easy to say to others “accept me as I am” and if that means, with a giant fish tattooed on your neck, then they can take it or leave it. But it is important to remember that not everyone approves of tattoos, and in fact, some make ridiculous judgments about people who do have them. That may not be important tomorrow, when you are on your way to the tattoo parlour, but what happens if someone who can have a great impact later on in your life, hates tattoos? For example, the bank manager who gets to decide if you get a mortgage or not? Or the judge when you are in court trying to get compensation for a car accident? Or the person you need to convince to accept your kid into that amazing music school? If they hate tattoos, and yours are very big and on show, you might have some problems.

tattoos, celebrities, fashion lists, fashion dos and donts

Victoria Beckham’s tattoo is in Hebrew. Last time I checked, she’s not Jewish.

4. Tattoos are very common. Tattoos used to be a symbol of individuality, but the fact that so many people have them now, has made them very un-exclusive. Want to be unique? Don’t get one.

tattoos, celebrities, fashion lists, fashion dos and donts

Scarlett Johansson’s tattoo looks like the logo for a kid’s daycare.

5. It is hard to get an epidural. Well, this won’t relate to all of my readers, but just so you know, it IS difficult to get an epidural if you have a large tattoo on your spine (I never believed people when they warned me of that, but according to my anesthesiologist, it is complicated because the needle needs to avoid passing through any ink, as the ink has lead in it and you don’t want that in your system.) And yeah, point 6? Tattoo ink DOES have lead in it. Considering we do so many activities to try and avoid having lead around us, it does seem weird that we are fine about getting injected into our skin!

tattoos, celebrities, fashion lists, fashion dos and donts

Brad Pitt’s incredibly tragic tattoo was apparently something Angelina sketched onto his back. Kids, don’t do this at home.

P.S. I have several friends who have a lot of tattoos, and most of them considered all of the above and waited until they were old enough to get inked. In most cases, their tats really suit them, and they look good. But I have also met many, many people whose tattoos aren’t right. And I really wonder where the hell they will be in two years when they are looking for a job, or in twenty years when they decided they don’t like frogs, or skulls, or that band’s logo anymore.

P.P.S. I do have a tattoo, and it is a rather large one that took about 25 hours to complete, and I spent several years choosing the artwork. But I do not flaunt it, and I made sure it was somewhere that I can conceal it at almost all times. So if ever I am wearing a strapless ball gown at a ball at the White House (yeh, like that’s going to happen. I would never wear a strapless gown!) then no one will know of my penchance for flowers, scorpions, and biker taglines.

P.P.S.S. To all those young people getting sleeves…

  • Namrata Bharati

    i realii likd ur ths post….i totalii agree wth all points u hav put forward regarding drawbacks or risk associated wth tattoos…honestli evn i m also plannin to get miself tattood bt i wan smthn which i truli belive nd smthn whch will realii inspire m all mi life..smthn whch i cn lookd at wen i b 90 yr old n still beliv in it…good post ..realii lov all ur post be it relatd to fashion or nt !!!!

  • Svandenbroek8

    I swear it took me 15 minutes to read that comment and I am not a grammar snob.

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Agree the abbreviations were VERY hard to follow… And I AM a grammar snob. Alexandra Suhner Isenberg

  • LouLou

    The King’s English will still be the King’s English 30 years from now…might want to go ahead and learn that.

  • Mr P

    So true on the (Not everyone approves of tattoos) Most people have not been at the mercy of another very often. But the older we get the more this happens and the situations are usually more important than most people EVER contemplate. Getting a job promotion or new home mortgage is important when you’re sitting there waiting on a verdict. Also, most children do not want to be different from other kids. If your kids have parents who are all “inked” up…you may be an embarrassment. On my son’s baseball team a boy on this team actually cried in my car on the way to get ice cream. My son told me later that the boy’s dad (two full sleeves) embarrassed him because he isn’t like the other dads. You may say to hell with what anyone thinks. But you probably don’t have kids and say that you don’t want any. Most of us have said that at one time or another. Kids can really rip your heart out when they’re hurting. Everyone should think about a tattoo’s visibility.

  • Lern2SpelPlzzz

    Dude, maybe you should go back to 3rd grade and take spelling before you think about tattoos…

  • Transcendentalist Chris

    I like your post aside from your last two points. The epidural rumor is just that, a rumor. It’s largely believed that it began when lower back tattoos became mainstream and women worried about their tattoos being damaged by epidurals. Eventually this concern gathered speed and became a “health concern” somewhere down the line.
    As far as lead in tattoo ink goes, this simply isn’t true. Lead used to be used in yellow, white, and green ink pigment, but that’s no longer the case. Even then it was such a low level that no health issues were ever reported.

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Agree. When I had my second epidural the anesthesiologist explained that there was actually no risk in passing through a tattoo (I discovered this after I wrote this post.)

  • jason pontalion

    you dumbass there’s no ink in the lead. if there was, i’d be dead. i have 17 tattoos and i’m about to do another one on my leg. so once i read that, this article turned into total bull shit. you’re telling me that people who have full sleeves and back pieces are injected with shit tons of lead? wrong. do your research before you start spouting bull shit next time. kthxbai.

  • jscott

    I actively dislike permanent tattoos. If I have a choice I will not deal with people who have tattoos. If you disagree with me…fine. It’s a free country (or suppose to be).

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Another good reason why tattoos should be concealed – people like this might be a potential boss.

  • Jim

    @34b1a0ce04c118b26d901ec120918e19:disqus Where on earth did you attend school and learn to spell in that manner?

  • Breaking Very Bad

    Namrati, you are the best advertisement AGAINST getting tattoos. You are too stupid to realize it .

  • Kasialewis12@gmail.com

    lololol amen to that it seriously took me 15 min to read that too. That is the grammer of someone who wants a tattoo. I’m not a grammer snob either but come on that is like decoding.

  • Chelsea

    Terrible article. Wishy washy, dumping on people with tattoos in one breath then pulling the “I have friends with tattoos” card:

    “not everyone approves of tattoos, and in fact, some make ridiculous judgments about people who do have them.”

    Yeah, people DO make ridiculous judgements about people who have tattoos, namely YOU:

    “I really wonder where the hell they will be in two years when they are looking for a job”

    But this is the kicker: “Tattoo ink DOES have lead in it.”

    What in the exact f*ck are you talking about?? Not to mention the complete disinformation about epidurals. This article is completely useless. I know it’s two years old, but seriously, it’s bad.

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    I’m not dumping on tattoos I’m dumping on people who go overboard on them in their early twenties, or who get them because they think they are a trend. I think it is stupid to get a sleeve and a neck tattoo when you are twenty, so yes, I am judging those people. It’s totally irresponsible. And I’m not sure where you get your information on lead and epidurals, but I got mine from my anesthesiologist right after he struggled to give me an epidural because he didn’t want to pass the needle through the lead-based ink of my tattoo. thought it was bullshit until I heard it from a trained physician.

  • Chelsea

    Ok, then since you wrote the article, cite a source that says tattoo ink has lead in it.

    And I’m pretty sure you recanted your statement about epidurals in the comments:
    “Agree. When I had my second epidural the anesthesiologist explained that there was actually no risk in passing through a tattoo (I discovered this after I wrote this post.)”

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Oops – you are right. I had forgotten about my second one. To be honest I don’t recall having that second conversation, but if I posted that comment (which was right after my second child) then it is probably true. Anyway, that’s not the main point of this article but if you’d like to nit pick it further, feel free.

  • Chelsea

    The point of the article doesn’t matter when it’s rife with misinformation, like saying tattoo ink contains poisonous materials like lead with no citation.

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    One incorrect fact does not equate “rife.” If you don’t like the article, then stop coming back here and commenting. You do realize each time you click on my page I get some money?

  • Chelsea

    Sorry you don’t like being called out. Maybe you shouldn’t post your garbage on the internet if you don’t want your words to be scrutinized, especially when you’re wrong.

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    If I didn’t like being called out, I would just delete your comments. I don’t mind being called out at all, I know I make mistakes and I am not an investigative journalist so I don’t do huge amounts of fact checking, etc… Feel free to comment as much as you like but I just think you are acting a bit childish now behaving like my whole article (or my whole blog…) is a farce because one fact is incorrect. That said, I really couldn’t give a toss what you think of me. I find it funny to see how riled up people get over a blog post. If you don’t like it, go elsewhere. Or keep coming back – like I said – a web page visit is always good news for me. On that note, I’ll have to end our lovely debate as I’ve got work to do. I don’t have much time to waste nit picking on fashion blogs about medical facts not being cited. It’s been fun!

  • skiies

    I’m a tattoo artist & before that I was account with both arm covered and my left hand and my neck never got dirty chicks likes guys with tattoos that are visible and also it’s a TATTOO DONT WORRY ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE think you got inked for a reason show it off

  • skiies

    Don’t like tattoos then don’t get one BITCH! Lol

  • Bobby

    2 years old but I will comment. This is hardly a devastating experience for a child. In fact, this example would be a mere blink in this individuals entire upbringing. This is something that, in the grand scheme of life, the kid would come to terms with (and understand) relatively quickly. Not to mention that there is a hidden life lesson here, an oppirtunity to teach something valuable- people come in all shapes, sizes, colors (appearances in general). Who people are goes beyond how they appear. Sorry, but if that argument is truly a “tough” life experience than I envy you, but maybe not.

  • jax

    I stopped trying to read it after 5 attempts. I thought it waa Russian for a minute

  • Luci

    I’m posting this comment that i made on another article here, so it covers points not made in this article but they are still relevant to tattoos and such so here:
    First of all, only 21% of people have tattoos, only 14% of people who get tattoos regret them (Not to mention if you’re not a fucking idiot and plan out your tattoos at least a couple months in advance and if you don’t regret it then, you probably wont later). Also who give a fuck if celebrities have tattoos, or that they’re not edgy, people get tattoos for the meaning of it or the love of it not solely to look bad ass. The military is actually pretty cool with tattoos as long as they don’t show if you’re wearing long sleeves and pants, and a lot of places are becoming more cool about tattoos as long as they’re not big and outrageous and/or can be covered up by clothing, also some presidents and other government leaders have had tattoos. And yes good tattoos can be expensive, but it the tattooie’s money and they can do whatever the fuck they want with it.

  • Joshua Dodd

    “A Pew Research Poll (done in 2010) showed that 23 percent of Americans have a tattoo. According to an article in the American Academy of Dermatology, about half of the people in their 20s have either a tattoo or body piercing (other than for pierced earrings) and the number is growing.”
    This is according to a Pew Research poll. However, consider the statement that “half of the people in their 20s”. That’s 50%. That means that 50% of an entire generation now has tattoos. That means that the individual value of tattoos has indeed plummeted. It has, in fact, lost its rebellious individual value to trendiness.

  • Sweet Shot

    Read it through the first time, No issues, made perfect sense.

    You guys need to really step up your game.

  • Tommy K. Indahl

    Is your grammar worse than your tattoos?

  • http://thereisonebear.wordpress.com Justin Ridenour


  • xstratusx

    “Chicks like guys with tattoos that are visible” – This chick doesn’t.

  • Goaty McCheese

    All I know is, I’ve heard people say they’re glad they got a tattoo, and I’ve heard people say they regret getting a tattoo, and I’ve heard people say they are glad they didn’t get a tattoo. But I have never heard anyone say they regret not getting one. I think that probably indicates something. Kinda like how nobody ever seems to die wishing he’d spent more time at the office.

  • blindanddumb

    get a tatoo if your a half wit hipster wanna be

  • Christopher Madden

    Tattoos are for retards.

  • Fantasy Maker

    Only idiots get tattoos

  • Ryan Gray

    Lamest author ever. Pathetic Article

  • realrap9

    People are such followers tats don’t even make sense anymore

  • Jesus Nervous

    Tattoos are awefull, matter of fact its crime to have tattoo in certain muslim countries were you will get skinned if u have tattoos.

  • mdh

    then maybe you should learn to read, I clearly read it in 15 SECONDS…

  • mdh


  • Liz

    What if they were a sentimental tattoo like an infinity sign with the words mom and dad??

  • john

    Liz you must have that tattoo huh? lol