Because neurotic is the new black....

Ann Nichols

Ann Nichols
East Lansing, Michigan,
December 31
I write, I read, I clean up after people and I worry about things. I have a chronic insufficiency of ironic detachment. My birthday isn't really December 31; it's March 22 but it won't let me change it.


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APRIL 29, 2010 9:52AM


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For most of my life, tattoos have been in the category of “things other people do.” My parents find them vulgar. Growing up, my main exposure was in the context of shows like “Mannix” in which the Bad Person often sported a lightening bolt or dragon on his malevolent forearm. In mysteries, too, the “distinctive tattoo of a Phoenix” was often the means by which the Bad Person was rooted out, despite having covered the tell-tale ink with clerical garb, or robes of mysterious Eastern cloth. Aside from various and sundry Bad Persons, tattoos were the province of Holocaust survivors, and men who had been in the military as impressionable youths. They were, those images, numbers and anchors, signals of something dark, regrettable, or offensive.

Many years later, I began to notice the presence of lighthearted, “cute” tattoos, particularly on women. My son’s second and third grade teachers both had a tattoo in the vicinity of their respective ankles, and they were both fine teachers, good mothers, and unaffiliated (to my knowledge) with anything particularly sinister or indiscreet. I started looking at tattoos, admiring fine art, asking strangers what the words or symbols meant, and did it hurt to have it done there? I discovered that many people I knew had a tattoo I had never noticed, and that some were signs of misspent and alcohol-enhanced youth, but most had great personal significance. A honeymoon tattoo, a tribute to someone dearly loved and lost, a symbol of deep religious significance.

A shift took place during my Tattoo Studies, and I began to see nothing unusual about people who had covered large parts of their bodies with ink. My husband’s nephew enthralled me at a family picnic describing his plans to have his late father’s face tattooed onto one of his legs. This plan would, at one time,  have provoked no response on my part other than a secret conversation with my husband about possible ways to talk the kid out of doing such a thing. I was fascinated. I wanted to know how they would get the picture on his skin, how big it would be, was it a common thing to do, would it hurt, so close to the prominent shin bones of a slender young man. I read “Tricycle” and noticed that many of the Buddhist monks with shaved heads and saffron robes were extensively tattooed.

I wanted one. I thought about placement, size and design. I first considered my wrist where it could easily be hidden by a watch or a sleeve when spending time with my mother. I favored the ubiquitous ankle, but thought that maybe it should then be done only in black to avoid clashing with the colorful skirts and sandals I wear in the summer. I wondered whether anyone else in the world worried about such things. I saw a beautiful, tiny heart on the back of a young woman’s neck, but decided that for my purposes, my tattoo needed to be visible to me. My purposes had evolved, over time, from the “cute-” a whisk, a pencil, two hearts for Rob and Sam – to the more serious. I wanted either a tiny dharma wheel or “om mani padme hum” to remind me to stop and be in the moment, compassionate, and fully alive.

I ran a trial balloon past my mother, thinking that perhaps she had become accustomed to the prevalence of tattoos in polite society. “What if I got a tattoo?” I began, tentatively, “I mean, I’m not saying I’m going to do it…just ‘what if?’”

“You can never be buried in a Jewish cemetary,” she began, “and it looks cheap. Who do you know that would mutilate herself like that?” There were literally a hundred people, but I interpreted the question as rhetorical, and moved on to safer topical ground.

I spent too much time thinking about the tattoo. I didn’t have the cash, and it was such a serious commitment. It is “mutilation,” strictly speaking; it’s the insertion of needles into your flesh, chemicals under your flesh, and it involves the risk of infection, scarring and pain. I have watched too many TLC documentaries not to know that there are many instances of post-tat remorse, and that the cost of removing one’s prison tattoos or the name and picture of an ex is high in both dollars and nerve endings. What if I hated it? What if, following my already flaky spiritual path, I decided that I wanted to practice Judaism and to be buried in a Jewish cemetary? What if it stretched or shrunk into some unrecognizable form as the result of weight gain or loss? What if it really, truly did mean that I was in some way cheap, tacky, and/or nothing more than a Dedicated Follower of Fashion willing to make an irrevocable mistake in order to enjoy three weeks of feeling like one of the cool kids?

I haven’t decided. The cash will be available today; I’ll put it in the bank and think some more. I don’t really need a permanent, inked reminder to be mindful; it actually seems to violate the most basic tenets of Buddhism to require such external motivation. I still fear judgment, categorization and dismissal. I do not fear the pain. I need to sort out the difference between an expression of freedom and some subconscious desire to seem like someone who is free. I should be thinking about a hundred other things, like work, laundry, genocide, planting tomatoes and marriage equality. Instead, I find myself imagining a tiny, black dharma wheel hovering somewhere above my right ankle. A discreet prayer across the top of my left wrist. A message to myself and to the world, about something I have not yet understood, something inchoate, urgent, and suspect. Something I need to hear, whether or not it is ever broadcast on my flesh.

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I've been thinking about this too. It is a very important decision. I don't like the ankle ones as much. They remind me of anklets. I like the wrist idea better. Or what about a toe ring?
On that cemetery thing; I hope there's an exclusion for those who were tatooed against their will.
Why don't you do something really bad instead?
I get this.

I'd been looking for art for a tattoo and told my brother I wanted two small, black ink, not mean- looking foo-dogs/temple lions facing each other on my lower spine (yes, the tramp stamp placement, but lower/smaller): I had a spiritual reason for choosing that spot (and, if it was a mess or I grew tired of it, I wouldn't really have to see the wrinkled evolution.) My brother said, "So you want a tattoo of a couple of dogs guarding your ass?" Still haven't done it.
There is a scripture in the Bible that says that God has your name written on his hand. Just something to think about....
Ann, are we twins? I have been contemplating a tattoo for years, and have also considered the "ohm" symbol. I've thought about the words you see on my avatar, "Follow the white rabbit" draped across my shoulder like the straps of an evening gown. Then my daughter, an artist, designed a lovely cherry blossom branch and had it tattooed on her shoulder. Now I want one just like it. What to do, Dear Ann?
I have also been longing to get a tattoo. Someday I am going to get it done. A colorful one.
what daniel said!

jews with their forced tattoos should not be banned from burial in a jewish cemetery

i have 5 tattoos. like ink marks made by pen point. they are medical, so the radiologist knew where to hit the mark every time. people say they don't count, since they are not art. but they count to me.

once i designed a logo for my son, thinking he would use it on his blogsite. instead, he has it tattooed on his arm. how cool is that? my art, forever on his arm?
I saw a woman with a tattoo I really liked--a flock of small birds, maybe seagulls, flying across her shoulder. It's the first tattoo I've ever seen that I could imagine having.

I still probably won't do it.

Great post.
consonantsandvowels cracked me up.

I could be reading about myself.
My mother always said tattoos were for sailors. I never liked the idea on the principle of "mutilation" and have always thought I'd better have a mighty good reason to have one done. (I have a very low pain threshold.) I've caught myself wondering about them now that I am forty.
I learned about something called white ink tattoos. They seem interesting.

My favorite scene from the movie Gladiator, the main character is cutting a tattoo placed on his skin. One of the other prisoners asks him, but won't your gods be angry? He gives a rueful smile and nods yes. That moment always slays me, it speaks volumes, literally and symbolically.
Ann, I am amazed at how many tattoos I see these days on arms and ankles. Not getting to the beach much I am sure I would see many more there, as well. I remember seeing an interview with Geoffrey Hughes, who played Onslow on "Keeping Up Appearances" on our NYC PBS station, in which he said the large tattoo on his arm was applied by make up artists before each show. There's something to be said about pretend tattoos, you can always stop wearing them if your tastes change!
i'm also drawn (no pun) to tattoos thought will probably not get one. but what i love most about this piece is how you describe it feels to float from yes to no and back to maybe.

"I need to sort out the difference between an expression of freedom and some subconscious desire to seem like someone who is free." Aaaah.
Nick has a point, you know. Bad can be good. A cute little spider - Charlotte, perhaps - peeking out from behind your ear? We all want to know, you know. rated with high expectations
I would eschew a tattoo
but people who don't
choose to make a mark
for better or worse
in their permanent record.

Best of luck.
I love my tatoos.never regretted getting them for a minute....I,m getting a new onr that says Breathe....I also have Faith and Trust written in chinese characters and a blue seahorse.My first tattoo was a tiny flower on my ankle.I lied about my age and got it when I was sixteen and hid it from my parents for a year. Thanks for the memories Ann.....p.s. you can also get tattoos in white ink so that they are barely visible but you will know it's there.I think that is very intimate.I'm getting my Breathe tattoo,in white on my wrist. Get your tattoo!!!! No Fear.It could say "I'm a kick-ass writer" circled around your dharma wheel.
My nephew's wife has a colorful butterfly, rather large, that covers where her arm attached to her shoulder. It even looks pretty in evening clothes. Some women remind me of my great-grandmother, the one from Prague, who must have had a drunken night with a sailor, because she had one of those old-fashioned anchors covered with the word Mother. For me, those kind don't work. For myself, I can't sit still long enough to get a tatoo that causes pain.

One of my sons has a Tlingit symbol down the outside of one calf, and as art, it's awesome.

And one of my best friends, when his arthritis grew too bad for him to continue wearing his wedding ring, had a ring tattooed on his finger.
I've thought about it too. But a nice, neat one in a very discreet place. But then I thought about it, nobody would see it anyway and tossed the whole idea.
I actually do have the "distinctive tattoo of a phoenix" on my back :) - on my left shoulder blade. I got it several years ago to remind myself that I always rise from the ashes and as a gesture of defiance (a big "F you", really) toward the circumstances that precipitated it.

I still like it and its placement helps ensure that it won't get saggy as I age, but it no longer means as much to me as it used to. However, since my mom passed away in December I'm thinking of somehow incorporating her name into it as the phoenix now symbolizes my hopes for her.

So, I guess my point is that a tattoo can evolve if you pick one that's meaningful to you. Oh, and most of them don't hurt that much, so don't worry.
Tattoos are popular with convicts. Although it's now illegal to have tattoos in prison, convicts are covered with them. Since much of our fashion originates from gangsters, rappers, and convicts, I suggest you think twice before doing it. Or maybe think a hundred times. How would the president of the Unites States look with a tattoo on his neck? Would St Francis have tattoos? How about Elijah? Tattoos evoke negative images. Personally, when interviewing a job candidate, I avoid people with tattoos.
You only think you do, Frank. Lots of us have them where you'll never see them.

And tattoos are far more ancient than gangsta culture, you know.
to help your decision making, go with henna. black henna ofcourse. it's a safe and temporary way to try all that you're contemplating (one by one ofcouse) and in the places you've considered. see if you like it after a while. when or if you decide to get the tatt, do post a pic and tell us why you chose that one. or why not.

i'm not a tattoo person. even though summer finds me henna-ed up on my instep, back or hands.(remnants of my country's culture still sitting with me) but i am def. one for piercings. all in discreet places clothing can hide. don't like the obvious.
OK, Ann, now that I have completed my non-revenue-generating chore, I have taken the time to read this and give you the best advice I can give you:
Wait a few years, and get a tattoo of the Pulitzer Prize on your ankle when you receive that award.
Oh, I should add that I'm a traditionalist. I don't like tattoos. I think they're silly and the kind of thing people look back on years later and say, "Well, it was a good idea at the time." But maybe it's also because I'm squeamish.
How about a small one on your neck so that your hair can hide it? Why not try out a non-permanent one first? Interesting lure, isn't it?
My son, 20, the one of whom I wrote in my recent 'Jello' post, has two excellent, artistic tatoos he designed himself. I will never have one but he isn't me and I have to say, despite my serious initial reservations, they so fit him.
Ann..very fun read..you should do it since you have wanted to for so long. Both my sons have them, but I never have. Piercings have always enthralled me, having been raised overseas, also like the idea of permanent silver ankle bracelet or earrings, figured I'm too old lol.
You can let the fascination wear off, but the ink is permanent. And it's much more expensive to remove them (properly) than to get them put on...
How do you always come up with something interesting? I just read the first paragraph and fall right in.

My input: During my Navy days, I came close several times: a tattoo of a cross or an eagle or the yin/yang symbol. But I suppose the alcohol wore off before I ever took the plunge. A lot of my shipmates got them though. Some I liked, a lot I didn't. Tastefully done, they can be quite sexy, and I don't think of women with tattoos as trashy. I might have years ago, but I can't remember seeing very many on girls years ago either. I dated a woman a few years back who had one of a dragon on her shoulder. I loved it. It completely fit her personality. That said, the Navy Blue Jackets manual has this to say about tattoos, and I always remembered it for some reason: "A tattoo does not prove that a sailor is salty, it merely proves he is not very bright." Of course that was probably the reason most of my shipmates got one. Because they weren't supposed to.
Have had one for 33 years. Was not in the navy nor did I go to art school. Very few people ever see it, except for when I am wearing certain swimwear. It could do with a color touchup. You will decide.
I'm voting for the discreet prayer across the top of your left wrist. I think it sounds simply beautiful. (I'm assuming you don't want the state flag of Michigan.) _r
Fascination exploration: I enjoyed this journey. And I adore those final few sentences. They encompass so much soul.
I am almost finished with a post of my own on this very topic! I am, quite decisively, pro-tattoo. I am halfway through covering my entire back, and have a small "typed" tattoo on my wrist. Do what's going to make YOU feel good. The rest of the world, they can look away!
I am having this exact same debate with myself. I'm pretty sure I know what, now I have to figure out where.
Religious symbols were created as reminders. Reminders can be anywhere -- computer wallpaper, a slip of paper in your wallet or on your bathroom mirror, on jewelry. Your decision depends on your tastes. You could try drawing your chosen design on your ankle with a pen and see how you like it. There is no rush.
I hated tattoos. Then my daughter was kidnapped and raped....and lived. On the deepest scar on her wrist caused by the zip ties that bound her, she a teal survivor ribbon tattooed. When I asked her why, she said, "Because if I have to remember what happened for the rest of my life, I want to remember that I survived." My son and nephew each have the same tattoo on their wrists in her honor. I don't hate them anymore.
I have absolutely zero desire for a tattoo. I have nothing against them and don't put people who get them into a certain category in my brain because, as you've stated, they are ubiquitous at this point: all kinds of people get them, so they don't represent anything in and of themselves. But I don't get why people would ever want to do it. For all the reasons: cost, pain, permanence. I mean, I get sick of stuff. I'm not wearing the same clothes I wore five years ago. Styles change, looks change, bodies change. I guess I think I would get sick of it. More important, I haven't found a compelling reason to get one. But if I did, I would!

PS One thing I have heard and am curious if is true (for anyone in the know): tattoos are addictive. People never want just one. Is this true?
bell - I want to know why you don't like the ankle tattoos. I have a friend who has a rose on her toe, which she says was "really painful" to get. Plus, I have a silver toe ring that I always wear for sentimental reasons and my feet might look too "busy?"

daniel - Yes! I was worried about that, and I checked.

nick - I have.

consonantsandvowels - I like your idea, and your brother is hilarious...but ignore him.

blu - I didn't know that. I am thinking. :)

ladyslipper - could be! I like both ideas, but the cherry blossom sounds so pretty...would she mind if you had one the same as hers? Could you change it enough to be similar but not add a triplet to our party?

lucypuma - well I'd love to know more...the design I like best is colorful, but i worry about that silly clashing thing.

firestorm - I'm sure your wife likes it. I find them very sexy, actually (in moderation). As for a "try-out," I'm leaning towards suggestions to have it done in henna, first.

dianaani - as I told Daniel, there is absolutely an exception for Holocaust survivors. I think your radiation tattoos count, probably more than most. as for your son's tattoo, that is INCREDIBLY cool. I'd love to see it some time, if he was willing.

froggy - that sounds beautiful. I actually admire some that are flocks/sprays/collections of things, but that's more tat than I can have on my own body.

vanessa - she does. :) The description of the Gladiator tattoo made me all tingly. I think i have to see that (for many reasons). I have an extremely high pain threshold, so that's not an issue. I am intrigued by the white tattoo.

designanator - perhaps you could draw some designs...I'd love them.

femme - It's still floating. But the check came today, it's been a rough week, the sun is shining.......

matt - oh Lord that would FREAK my husband out. You'll all know when and if it happens. :)

sheepdog - well it wouldn't show through your fur, anyway.

bonnie - I know, I know, but I'm such an old hippie.

diary - hah! I needed that. :) Yours sound amazing, and the white ink thing might be just the ticket. I'm attracted to the words-on-the-wrist thing because I have a friend who had her brother's name written in beautiful script around her wrist after he died, and it's just such a potent combination of meaningful and lovely.

lezlie - I think it would be amazing to have a tattooed grandmother! I think I'm jealous. Neither my Jewish grandmother nor my no-nonsense New England grandmother would ever have done such a thing.

high lonesome - It sounds awesome. The ring idea is interesting because, while I don't have arthritis, I am allergic to my wedding & engagement rings and am often out and about without them, feeling a little naked.

fay - but you'd know it was there....

not_yet_born - what a great story! I love the idea of the tattoo's evolution, but I think you have to pick carefully (like something other than your current significant other's name) in order to be so flexible.

frank - they are associated with prison culture, but are also a part of many ancient cultures. I might think twice about a potential hire with a prison tear tattooed beneath one eye, or "Love" and "Hate" on his knuckles, but what about someone who had been in thge service and gotten a military-related symbol because he or she was proud to have served our country?

sheila - thanks!

renatta - I'm wondering where I would get a black henna tattoo? Could a tattoo place do that? I do really love henna designs, but all that's pierced are my ears. I do entertain a tiny diamond nostril piercing from time to time. Of course, after this, I'll show you all!

cranky - you are too, too sweet. I think I'd have to do better than (endless) blog entries to get a Pulitzer. As for the tattoo issue, I really do respect the fact that many folks don't like them. Will you still love me with a prayer on my wrist?

lea - I think I'm "trending" towards the try-on. I can't have it on my neck because part of the reason I'm drawn to this is the idea that I'll have a visible reminder.

jonathan - So he's funny and artistic. I think I like him.

cindy - What's a permanent silver bracelet or earring? I've never heard of that. (Maybe I want one of those, too...).

cartouche - that's what I hear. Why do you have to be so damned level-headed?

t. michael - I dream these things up to amuse you because I know you're having a hard time these days. :) My husband thinks they're sexy, too (if he didn't, this might just be a non-issue) and the Navy story is really interesting - I guess i always assumed that the Navy (and other branches of the military) were really gung-ho on tattoos.

wantmymindback - well now I'm all curious!

joan - NO state flag of Michigan. How did you even think of such a thing?! interesting that you and bell both like the same idea; that carries great weight with me.

athomepilgrim - that's my favorite part.

moistowlette - I can't wait to read your thoughts on this. I'm interested in what you're planning for your wrist. Post it SOON, please?

leeandra - that was quite astonishing. Tattoos, love, desire, impermanence...it's bookmarked for many more reads.

gwhizz - so what? Where? I need company in this venture.

geezerchick - you are entirely right. There is no rush, but I've been thinking about this for so long it seems like fish or cut bait time.

donna - that took my breath away. Thank you so much for sharing that story.

lainey - I hear you. It's like smoking (another problem I had, historically) in the sense that people say "why would you ever want to inhale dirty smelly smoke into your lungs?" (I can't really explain that one, either). As for the addictive thing, i see much evidence that it's true, and I admit to the odd indrawn breath when a friend adds the 50th tattoo, particularly when they're on a tight budget. I honestly don't see myself becoming an addict; there are times when I like to be very elegant, and that gets increasingly difficult to carry off if you're pushing 50 and covered with tats.
The best advice I got years ago when wanting my first tattoo was to think about it for 2 years, and if I still wanted it, get. There's something to be said for keeping them in places easily hidden "professional" attire. (What if you have to get a job from Frank??) But to get a unique one that has great meaning for you is a beautiful thing. Sketch it and hold it up to the area you want. Ironically, tattoos are steadily moving into such a common realm that you really want to pick something _very_ unique for yourself. (I think the automatic prison association is fading rapidly) I love mine. I wouldn't call myself an addict, but yes, I kinda want another one...
@Oh Annie. It was a feeble attempt at humor. Remember my daughter wanted the D.C. flag for a couple of minutes?
Know the difference between tattooed people and non-tattooed people?

Tattooed people don't care whether you're tattooed.
My favorites from taking care of patients, are the cute little rosebuds on the breast that became long stemmed roses with age!
It's cemetery, not cemetary. I normally would not have posted to point it out, but you spelled it wrong twice in your piece.
10 years ago, my then 7 year old daughter, didn't want to do her homework and she spat out at me "I will become a tattoo artists, they don't need to know how to read." My thoughts of getting a tattoo died right then and there, until recently. My now 17 year old daughter is quite an artist in her own right these days, and I am now seriously considering having one of her drawings tattoo'd on my leg. It was easy to walk away from the temptation of tattoing when my daughter was 7, now that she is about to go out into the world, the thought of having a bit of her with me day in and day out is somehow comforting.
i hate my stupid tattoo. It was a dumb idea. I should have stuck with the temporary and the henna!
Some things that might interest you:

Two summers back, I sat in the parlor with the artist sketching the "bird in flight" I"ve wanted for thirty years. When we finally settled on the sketch, I said I would sleep on it a few. Two summers back. Good post, and it obviously vibrates for many of us.
You can't go wrong with the classic battleship tattoo on your chest.

Best tattoo I've ever seen so far, at Deep Eddy Pool in Austin: It was two-parter. The top image was of a bear leaning over a little boy playing a trumpet, in silhouette. Beneath that, the bear playing the trumpet, again in silhouette, with an outline of the boy where the bear's stomach would be. It made me laugh. Probably the only time I've ever HAD to complement someone on their tattoo.
Generally, I think getting a tattoo should be thought upon at some length and it should have meaning to you, so I enjoyed this post and the ideas you are considering.
I got my first tattoo when I was 28--an ankh on the back of my neck. My eighth tattoo is currently in progress--7 stars (Revelations 1:16). Why do I get them? Maybe I'm addicted...
maaktare - thanks for an in-the-know opinion. Just last night I saw a young man with a really interesting tattoo of Kanji with a symbol. I asked him what it meant, and he said "I don't know; it looked cool." What if it says something like, "I am a shrieking ass?" I intend to be better prepared.

joan - I do. :)

late again - amen.

libmomrn - mmmmm. That's just become a spot to avoid!

mamalicious - Thanks. It's funny because it passed my spell checker.

trujo - That's a great story, and a "take" I can understand. If my son were artistic, which he's not, I would love to have something designed by him.

poppi - I am in the "temp" process as we speak. So far, so good....

hatchetface - the poem was amazing. Is White Tiger you?! I've bookmarked it for deep exploration.

scupper - I had no idea so many came so close and...did or didn't go ahead. Did you at least frame the sketch?

larry - my husband was in the Navy, and is a military history buff; I'm sure he would LOVE that. ;-)

AustinCynic - Ha! I'd love to know the story behind that choice.

spotted_mind - it's so good to have you back. I was hoping you'd see this, because I know you to be a Mad Tatter. I am so interested in why you chose that passage...and what the stars will look like. I plan to scour your posts for clues and then torment you mercilessly until I get answers.

rjheart - I JUST saw a mom selling tickets at a high school musical wearing our "uniform" of khakis and a crisp white shirt...with a huge tat on her right forearm. I also saw people looking at it, totally surprised. I think I'm secretly with you on the "shock and awe;" I just have to be sure I have meaning, too.
"I need to sort out the difference between an expression of freedom and some subconscious desire to seem like someone who is free."

I loved this! I had a tattoo at one time - when I had a surgery the surgeon offered to remove it at the same time. I was grateful - I was fifteen when I got mine and it was of the 'regret' variety.

I would love to know how it turns out for you.
sparking - everyone will know; I'm actually looking at pictures right now, and trying to decide whether the feeling in my gut is excitement or an early warning sign. :)
I got one at twenty in a usually hidden place. I did it for a specific reason: to reclaim my body after years of eating disorders and to have a tangible proof that I did not have to live by what I was told by my parents. It's not fancy. Just a butterfly on my lower right back. I never ever regretted it.
Go for it! I did mine for a mile-stone birthday and have never regretted it. It's has very person meaning. I've thought about a second, on my inner wrist, but haven't - yet...
The long term effect of am ink stain in your skin is ...hey grandma
can I see that tattoo on your boob? What an awful bruise you have there on your leg...no wait that's a dead unicorn. The ubiquitous "tramp stamp" across the hips (evidently for the viewing pleasure of your doggy style lover) will become distorted as your bottom expands.
Ink is no longer a form of unique expression. Like piercing and other trendy forms of mutilation for beautification (ugly head shaving included) it will run it's course as the negatives become more obvious. Hepatitis is also a risk.
Many years ago, a co-worker and I went to Cleveland for week-long meetings. We drove up, since it's only about 4 hours from here and got to the hotel early on a Sunday evening. Seems there was a "Tattoo and Piercings Convention" at the hotel that weekend--and some of the attendees were still there. We got on the elevator with a young woman who was wearing what I took to be at first glance a halter top. But she had large, pendulous breasts and something didn't seem quite right. Looking closer (and trying to be subtle about it) I realized she was actually topless--the "halter top" was all tattooed in a complex filigree design. I was at once impressed and appalled. She was with a guy who had railroad spikes pierced through his chest muscles. Now THAT was appalling! Yuck!

I'm sure you'll use your impressive mind skills to make the right decision for you, Ann. Listen to your own inner voice--she's not usually wrong about the important stuff! Rated. D