Random Sunday: Ink

I’ve been thinking about getting a tattoo.  In some discreet spot, probably a place that nobody would see unless they shared a locker room (or a bedroom) with me.  Why have I been thinking this?   I have no idea.

There are problems.  First off, I have no existing tattoos, and the reason is: even when I was twenty and had a buzz cut and a pierced nose, I couldn’t imagine affixing any permanent image to my body.  I mean, in twenty years, would I really want that tattoo of a skull, or Jiminy Cricket, on my shoulder?   Probably not.

Second is the cliché aspect – how about a heart?  Scattering of stars?  Yin-yang?  A unicorn?  Puh-leaze.   I could argue that, at my age, even considering a tattoo is a cliché.  I might as well cut to the chase and have the word “cliché” tattooed on my wrist instead, in some small, illegible font.

Then there’s the double standard – my own very mixed messages.  I tell my teenaged daughters (the 15-year-old has friends with tats): if you get a tattoo your legs will fall off.  The other variation of this message is: DON’T GET A TATTOO.  NOBODY WILL EVER HIRE YOU.  Or, sometimes I say:  YOU GET A TATTOO AND I WILL (MESS) YOU UP, DO YOU HEAR ME?!  Subtle stuff like that.

And yet, I’ve caught occasional glimpses of a few young women around here who are, it appears, slowly working on full sleeves – which I think are gorgeous.  Now there’s a double standard.  What is wrong with me?   Part of the problem, of course, is a double standard.  I used to work at an ultra-male, financial-services place that was extremely conservative.  And I worked with some bodybuilder-guys who were getting seriously large tattoos, and the only reason I knew that was: we went to the same gym.  They wore jackets and ties at work.  With women it’s not so easy to hide.  And hard as it is for my daughters to believe, there are people (men?) of a certain age who will look at a visible tattoo on a woman and think something like, trollop.  There’s a reason those lower-back tattoos are called tramp stamps, as much as I dislike the term.

A tattoo should mean something, maybe, but what?  A milestone, a celebration, a reminder?  Typing the words meaningful tattoo makes me smirk.  Maybe that’s my problem right there.  A perfume bottle would look boring.   I LUV SERGE 4EVAH done with swirls and that big gothik-gangsta lettering seems … like overkill?  Yeah, I thought so too.

The problem with hindsight is it’s so backward-looking.  We’re (always?) at that age, that dangerous age, where the grass is definitely greener somewhere else, maybe five years ago and to the left.  I was apparently already too old for a tattoo when I was in college, and I haven’t gotten any younger.  And still.  And yet.

All you young whippersnappers out there, you sweet young things in your twenties, I want to say to you:  Go Ahead.  Do It Now. Go on and shave your head/move to Bali/change your name if that’s what you feel like.  But that’s easy for me to say and it’s hardly fair or applicable, is it?  Our lives are different.  I was so busy trying to grab onto what I thought was adulthood in my early twenties, I wonder if I missed some of that foolishness.  Or maybe I didn’t.  Maybe there’s still time to be foolish, who can say?  Although I’m drawing the line at the unicorn.

  • Melanie says:

    I think for 20 somethings it really is a “look at me, understand me” additude. But in my case I tattooed for me- my enjoyment, for my eyes to see and my face to smile. If I chose to let you see my art I feel you are one of the privledged few. My heavy ink journey began in my 30’s- it help me get over the emotional, physical, and mental pain I still felt from my childhood. Call it a shield or mask if you will, I call in release and a step toward forgiveness. I am now 38, going to nursing school, a wife of 20 yrs and mother to teenagers. My feet both arms and other ramdom body parts are tattoed. I’ve had people stare, grimice, pull or walk away from me just because of my skin. People won’t take the time to get to know me, or about my 20yr marriage or my honor roll teens because they have already formed an idea in their head of what kind of person I must be. People my own age seem to be the worse, but ironicly little old ladies love to comment, touch and inquire about my design choice. I don’t think tattoos will ever become mainstream. I am told often how when I get old they will look bad but the emotional rollercoaster these ink pricks have released me from will never be regretted or dull to me!

  • W says:

    I, too, had wanted one for a really long time, but was stuck on finding something meaningful. In the end, I decided to go for something I just loved looking at–a charcoal and watercolour sketch of Freesia (my favourite) that a friend made for me. The artist was great and the effect is really subtle and a little abstract with no harsh outlines. Great experience.

  • minette says:

    i’d recommend you test drive some temporary tattoos to see how you feel about them on your body. i did this with a really pretty rose on my ankle when i was close to getting a real one, and wound up feeling so self-conscious and unattractive in it, i decided no tats pour moi. couldn’t wait to get the thing off of me.

    also, i wouldn’t know what image i’d want on my body permanently. nothing sings to me in that way.

  • nbh says:

    Actually, a tattoo of the word “cliche” would be pretty funny.

    It is interesting how many people have a need to advertise what is important to them (at least at one moment in time) permanently on their bodies. It makes me wonder if they feel they are not being heard in the usual ways people communicate with each other. To me, tattoos say “please try to understand me.”

  • Disteza says:

    There have been many tatoos on DC locals that I have appreciated, but since I’m allergic to metal and of a highly changeable nature I’ll never have one myself. I know some people who could give you recommendations though–if you’re still interested.
    Nature has seen fit to give me all the decoration I need: I’ve got freckles, some of which are so large that they resemble leopard spots on my back and shoulders. I’d never have them covered up; after many years of hating my freckles I’ve decided that they’re more interesting than anything I could have tattoed.

  • MJ says:

    I don’t have one, and likely won’t get one but have found some lovely. From blog and mystery writer websites I’ve seen noir writer Christa Faust’s gorgeous large tattoos (tropical birds eating berries from stems, spread across chest, shoulder, down back – beautifully done, like a colorful walking Audubon print). They’re so striking that should I ever see her at a reading or convention I’ll have to be a fangirl over her tats as well as her writing and get a closer look.

    I keep threatening to get the scales of justice (I’m a lawyer, I know, I’m sorry, don’t hit me) on my butt, but still don’t have the courage.

  • eggomania says:

    I think it’s fine if people want them, but they’re so common now that it hardly seems the special thing it might have been once. And I have nothing but smirks for the people who bizarrely tattoo their OWN NAMES on themselves. Is this is case you forget? Or women who get those big prison-lifer tats on the BACK OF THEIR NECK. It is just NOT attractive, Victoria Beckham, Cheryl Cole et al…

    • March says:

      I’m going to get my name tattooed across my forehead in reverse lettering so I can read it in the mirror, sorta like this:


    • Gretchen says:

      Hear,hear! Or their birthdates. Or their area codes– how special.

  • Ruanne says:

    Can I just say that tattooed bodybuilders in suits has jut become my new fetish? Thank you.

    I also wanted to concur with the idea of trying it on somehow. My son drew my last tattoo (the Welsh dragon) on my shoulder so I could check placement, live with it for a day, etc., and I think it was a good idea.

  • Ceil says:

    I’m 53 and have a large tattoo that covers my back on one side from shoulder almost to waist. I had gotten a much smaller tattoo about 15 year ago and found a custom tattoo artist who does such awesome work that I decided to get what I was “really wanting” for a tattoo….regardless of what anyone else likes or things. So I had him cover my old tattoo with the new one. I have always identified myself with trees…even as a child…so that is what I got. My suggestion to you is to get something that just “speaks” to you. Not representing an event or person or just cosmetically pretty. But an image that is meaningful to your essence that you will enjoy even when you just think about it.

  • mary says:

    Here in the Bay Area, there are defintiely many folks who have ink somewhere. I am not one of them. Shoot, I don’t even have pierced ears. I do see some beautiful tattoos, but I basically refrain from activities which will disqualify me from donating blood, and tattoos seem to concern the Red Cross. They put it on the same list as shooting heroin and unprotected sex. Frankly, I dislike needles and only deal with them when absolutely necessary. But your tattoo idea sounds beautiful– a stylized perfume bottle would make a beautiful and unique tattoo. Perhaps you can collect some images of bottles which seem beautiful to you, keep a journal of ideas and talk to a local tattoo -giver person about how to create an individual image which you will enjoy the rest of your life–which is how long you will be looking at it. Personally, I enjoy the little stick- on tattooss–you can play around with celtic armbands, mythical creatures, mayan deities, zodiac syumbols, and play around with locations on your body to see where a tattoo might be most pleasing. They last a day or two, then you can do something else. There are also stick on jewels which are fun. I see way, way too many ladies around my age (51) at the gym with Santa Cruz bumper stickers calling attention to a derriere which is no longer the nectarine it was ten years ago. But bless their hearts, maybe it was worth having. Living fully and feeling alive leave all sorts of marks–from stretch marks from having those babies to scars from falling off your horse, or bicycle, or motorcycle.Good luck–please let us know what you decide to do!

    • Aparatchick says:

      And here I thought that I was the only woman with unpierced ears!

      I need to check out the stick-on tattoos. They sound like fun.

  • Eric says:

    I’m in the minority here but I do not find tattoos aesthetically pleasing. I’ve heard lots of arguments from many different camps (the body is a canvas and should be treated as such; it is a way of expressing your emotions in a physical manner; even, as in Hitomi Kanehara’s “Snakes and Earrings,” a way of working through emotional difficulty) but the plain fact is, I just don’t like them.

    However, it is your body. If you really feel strongly for getting a tattoo, who am I to say no? I held my friend’s hand when she had F-holes tattooed on her abdomen and I cleaned my step-sister’s Eye of Horus because she couldn’t reach it (it was on her back). If you want one, by all means, get one with a light heart. 😀

  • So the ever-practical Quinn comes dragging up the rear (as it were) to say the little rosebud I got at 16 on my boob is now a long-stem rose. And, knock wood, I’ve been healthy all my life, so when I went for my first CAT scan, I was refused because I had a tattoo, and the inks contain metals which make CAT scans impossible, I was told. And now, according to my insurance, I have a pre-existing condition. Having that tattoo cost me thousands of dollars in diagnostics my insurance no longer covers. On the other hand, way out here in the desert, we have the best tattoo artists I’ve ever seen, including those who do amazing detail and use white ink. We even have soy ink tattoo artists out here, but you’ll have to get it recolored from time to time.

  • Sue says:

    Hi March,

    Already Pretty is one of my other favorite blogs and the lovely Sal has a great post on her tattoos that you might enjoy: http://www.alreadypretty.com/2009/10/reader-request-my-ink.html.

  • Francesca says:

    I suddenly just remembered one of the most serious tattoos I ever saw. A very tall, robust man all in leather, walking a tiny yorkie. His (the man, not the yorkie’s) head was shaved and it was tattooed with a flying eagle whose wings wrapped around the sides of the man’s head, and whose head and beak came down between his eyebrows. Hard. Core.

    • Shelley says:

      Once worked on a documentary whose subject was a young woman (I am talking early 20’s) who had already covered over a third of her upper torso, and had full plans in mind. The skeleton that appeared on her back was reaching a skeletal hand to hold one breast, and she had a snake started on the other side, on the arm, that was eventually going to wrap around the other breast. Which I offer up as Exhibit B, Hard Core: the female representation.

  • Justine says:

    Having just returned from Disneyland I have lost any tattoo dreams I might have once harbored. Because I have seen the teaming masses, and my god, they are tattooed up; arm, legs, hips, collarbone, calf and hand. Young, old, and both sexes had them in spades. At the end of three days I can say none of them looked cool, inspiring or sexy to me anymore. It was tattoo overload, and who knew they were this mainstream, this middle America? Clearly, this is not a popular opinion because well, I would swear the majority of people there had them, and they must like them. But after three days I had a new appreciation for my own blank skin. Suddenly, it was different, I was a rare individual for what I didn’t have. At the very least it was a new and unexpected perspective.

    • Francesca says:

      Justine, yes, there is that, the trashy aspect of tattoos.I’ve seen more bad ones than I care to recollect.

    • March says:

      OK on the one hand: I totally understand what you’re saying with this one. And I routinely see tattoos (and not while on vacation) where I think: wow, did you actually pay money for that?

      But to some degree I see tattoos as I do clothing — (snob alert!) I am often surrounded in large public venues by people wearing clothing I wouldn’t select either. And, as I wear vintage and odd things, I’m sure any number of people are looking at me the same way. /:)

  • Louise says:


    I’ve been motivated and de-motivated to get a tat for many years. I guess I’d go with RobinR’s idea to sit on the idea a bit longer…if/when you’re feeling the urge consistently, holler back-I know of two really reputable salons locally.

    And just maybe, I’ll go with you, and get that belly button piercing I’ve been threatening to do for 10 years 😮

    • March says:

      Well, no fears. I’m not going to throw down six shots of tequila tomorrow and wander into that joint in Bethesda… I’d probably wind up with a Chanel logo.

      The belly button piercing is no big deal. I had one. They clamp it, it doesn’t particularly hurt. I’ll hold your hand. 🙂

      • Robin R. says:

        For some reason, I can totally get behind belly button piercings. =d>

        • March says:

          I did that in my 30s (TMI?) I took it out before I got pregnant with the twins. I’ll stop right there, I don’t want to scare you.

  • sweetlife says:

    Mmmm…been thinking about this today, dear March. And what I think is: for me, it’s always been about the why, the story behind the impulse. It seems so clear to me that that it’s about memorializing something on your (one’s) skin. So if I ever think of an image and have a reason I’ll do it. But I haven’t yet.

    I do adore it when people find one for themselves, though. I had a friend, a true free spirit and wonderful performance artist with the most wonderful, impish sense of humor, who got a blue-footed booby tattooed on her right foot. (She was thrilled when I recognized what bird it was.) When I asked her why she said, “Because it’s a dancing bird!” Then, of course, we had to look up a clip of blue-footed boobies doing their dance… The whole thing was perfect.

    If you do it, be particular about your artist. A good one–not just with the needlework but with the consulting part, too–seems to make all the difference.

  • Musette says:

    For a fun ‘maybe’ go over to Helg’s site and look at Jenifer Aniston’s photo.

    xo >-)

    • March says:

      Seriously, I think that’s gorgeous. Although it’s painted (or maybe just photoshopped). I love the painterly quality.

  • Austenfan says:

    One of the classiest ( in my humble opinion) English actresses has had a tattoo for years. It didn’t stop her from playing the queen or being awarded a DBE.
    I would not ever get one myself, I really like to see them on others though.

  • nozknoz says:

    I remember googling the Ed Hardy website after reading about his cologne – there are some hallucinatorily beautiful tattoos on that site!

    I love Ms. Christian’s choice of tattoos that are both beautiful and inspiring, well worth dedicating pieces of one’s personal real estate to. Are their images or symbols that mean that much to you, March? (%) 8-x %%- >-) @};- =:) ~o) :(|) 🙂

  • Shelley says:

    In the realm of TMI…but…I added some “tribal markings” in the era between young adulthood and middle age. I thought of them as tribal markings, at least, in the sense of the best kind of patterns: they/it reflect both individuality AND universality. I fondly –well, when the ego was strong “fondly”– referred to them in the collective as…well, I had trouble naming it with the right irreverent reverence. Don’t have any ink tats, and probably never will–at this point, I’m too aware of how my tastes have evolved, it’s not worth getting over my aversion to needles to permanently stamp myself with something that would probably at best mark an era.

    My tribal marks, btw, are compatible with sleeveless and any form of cleavage, including the “arse antlers” space. (OMG, that was too funny.) They are…stretch marks. 🙂

  • Gretchen says:

    March, you can commemorate meaningful ideas or events in your life with jewelry, you know– it doesn’t have to be one of those kitschy 50’s-type charm bracelet (unless you like them), just a bracelet or necklace with tokens that signify important things to you. Good reason to patronize artisan jewelers, too (for those custom designs, just as you would want a tattoo to be special, not generic).

    • Gretchen says:

      Or you could try out the look of a tattoo with body paint, as in my reply above to Robin R.

  • Kate says:

    I have 2 lovely nieces, age 19 and 20-something. The only time I ever heard them anything rude about their mom (my ex-SIL) was when their mom got a tattoo. A tramp stamp which lovely nieces mock and call “the uterus” which, according to them is in the shape of same and orange.

    Your kids are probably too kind to mock even if its a good tattoo.

    • March says:

      My daughter is actively encouraging me, in part (I am sure) because she figures it would lower my resistance to the idea of HER getting one eventually, although in two years she can do whatever she wants, and in part because she knows I’m not getting a black widow in the middle of my forehead or something.

      A tramp stamp (location wise) is not “me” and I can’t even tell you why. Dunno.

  • Robin R. says:

    March, for what it’s worth: I’ve been around the visual art/performance art/music scene for most of my life and I’ve seen and admired lots of beautiful tattoos on men and women. And when I traveled through New Zealand, the Maoris had the most amazing black patterned tattoos that contoured their musculature; the massive upper-arm-across-the mid-chest and calf-to-thigh ones were extraordinary.

    Here in Vancouver, probably most of us between the ages of 15 and 65 have at least one tattoo. It’s just kind of What You Do. There’s nothing daring about it. Interestingly, what I’m finding is that it has become very cool to NOT have a tattoo. Much more radical and unusual and kinda nifty. Kinda bold and brazen and individualistic. It’s like, “You have a virgin bod? Wow. Love your style, man. You, like, march to your own drummer,eh?”

    Just for another perspective.

    • Gretchen says:

      Much the same here in the SF Bay Area, Robin: a tattoo has become a mindless act of conservatism (and oh, the cliches! roses, unicorns, wannabe-Maoris. . .) I never got one, because I would never want to wear the same clothing style, makeup, jewelry, etc, for a lifetime, so why stick myself with a tattoo? If I want the look of “body art” I do it with theatrical makeup and give myself the option of change.

      • Robin R. says:

        I hear you, G. I just love having pure, naked skin. There’s something incredibly life-affirming about that, for some weird reason. A beautiful canvas that will always be blank. Or something. 😕

        • Robin R. says:

          P.S. Not to imply that tattoos aren’t great. And not to imply that Maori tattoos aren’t great. In fact, I love the latter in particular, and traditional symbolic tattoos of other cultures. There is a great deal of proud history and meaning there. If I were Maori, I’d definitely have an amazing tattoo. But I’m Irish and French and Czech, and no tattoo would be personally meaningful enough to want to make a permanent feature of my skin. But that’s just me.

      • March says:

        I do wear those little fake tattoos sometimes and I find them hilarious, mostly because they’re wildly inappropriate and I know they’ll wash off. I had Tazmanian Devil on my boob last summer, that was good for some double-takes at CVS … I don’t look like the Taz-Boob type, for sure.

        • Tommasina says:

          March – that’s the kind of thing we were putting on at the Quaker retreat I mentioned! Not to give you the wrong idea – but Quakers are likely Not Quite What You Think…

      • Gretchen says:

        You know, I meant to type “conformism” rather than “conservatism” above. But I suppose both words apply.

    • March says:

      So ……… I’m actually a TRENDSETTER!!! Like when I held onto all my record albums for two decades, and then suddenly it was COOL!!!! So are you voting “no ink”? Too been-there-done-that?

      • Robin R. says:

        I’ll take a stand and say, “yeah, March.” No ink. If you really, really, REALLY were crazy about the idea, you wouldn’t have written the column. You would have done it already and damn the torpedos. It’s kind of like asking if you should just go ahead and marry Mr. Adequate. If you have to ask, you’ve got your answer. When you know, either way, you just KNOW.

        Sure, flirt with the idea, roll it around, look at it from a few angles. If it were me, I’d ask myself about the urge behind the urge. You want to make a change, maybe. You want to do something a little wild and crazy, especially before It’s Too Late. You wonder if it IS actually Too Late. So what would really be an exciting, important addition to March’s life?

        Or maybe it’s just an ideal tattoo thought, here today and gone tomorrow. Sit tight till it passes. #:-s#:-s

        • Leslie says:

          And a quick thought to add on here; a friend of mine got a tiny dragonfly on her arm about 2 years ago. I believe she’s about 80. So perhaps Too Late doesn’t have to apply (until it’s completely irrelevant, anyway)?

        • CynthiaL says:

          I’ll post here under Robin because it seems we are in the minority. It may be the unpopular view but I have never cared for tatoos and now the everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, has them, I like them even less. I read a quote by Helen Mirren (I think) recently that she got her tatoo years ago, but now hates it because they are so ubiquitious.

          I am an evolving person, and what I thought or believed ten years ago isn’t necessarily what I love today. I can understand if you have something really momentous and life shaking to commemorate, but the eagle plastered above the butt…really? My Australian husband came from a background where eveyone was tatooed, and now he stand out because he is not tatooed.

          Having said all this, different strokes and all that, March. If you decide you really want it, then by all means go for it. But I’d take a long pause to think.

  • Catherine says:

    I got a tattoo when I was nineteen–sinking in someone’s living room, drinking wine, and some guy coming over with a “kit.” I’ve never regretted it, even with its smudgey lines. What I do regret is not getting sleeves while I lived in Berlin at the age of 29. Now, it’s passed. I want them, but not with all my being.

    Maybe my fortieth birthday will change my mind. I can only hope!

    • March says:

      Sleeves for your 40th birthday! Although … sleeves are interesting. I’ve seen some that look very unified, some that are a bit more of a mishmash. And some look better than others but I can’t say why, particularly.

  • Roland says:

    I got mine when I was 41 and my gf got hers when she was 30, even though we’d both thought about something for years. Someday, one may come to mind that you can’t resist, and that will be the time to get it.

    I love the idea of a perfume ingredient that you absolutely love and has come to mean a lot to you. I just hope it’s not resin combed from the beards of goats… 🙂

  • Tommasina says:

    A friend recently turned 60 and finally got a tattoo: a small spiral on the outside of her left ankle. It’s meaningful to her bcs of her job (looks a bit like her eco-company’s logo); but, more importantly, she wonders what she’s been waiting for. She thought about getting one when she was 18; then 30; then 40; and has let it ride until now. If it’s what you want, and you’re sure about it, then go for it. (Btw, I wonder whether some of your concern about people’s disapproval involves the rest of your family, Cheese in particular. Just a thought.)

    • March says:

      I’ll concede to being of an age/background where tattoos simply weren’t “nice.” My own mother found the concept of pierced ears a little risque. And I’ve had/done my own piercings but that’s different — you take them out. I never viewed them as permanent. So for me, at least in part, it’s a lack of a clear compulsion toward a particular image or design…

      • Tommasina says:

        I know exactly what you mean about age / background: same for me. I’ve been leaning *very* gently in this direction, myself, in the past 2-3 years (don’t tell my husband); the furthest I’ve gone, however, was to play with transfer tattoos while on a Quaker women’s retreat 2 years and 10 pounds ago (mind you, this was after an illness~). How sad is that? Stupid, too, but I was actually a bit annoyed that my friend with the spiral tattoo had got that as hers, since the spiral has always been ‘my’ thing – not that she knew. Very silly of me.

  • dissed says:

    We’ll, not we;ll. Would be nice if I could actually type with one hand.

    • March says:

      I can’t type with two hands, apparently — I just typed “nads” instead of hands, what’s that about? So don’t sweat it.

  • dissed says:

    We;ll all be ugly when our skin sags, anyway. Don’t think ink would make it any worse. I don’t have/won’t get tattoos, but if you want it, why not? My best friend was tattooed a few weeks ago. She worked with the artist, came up with a design for the inside of her forearm and loves it.

    • March says:

      Oh, don’t say that! I’m planning on being beautiful when my skin sags, which it’s already doing, a bit… I do think that if I do anything I’d have to find an artist who feels right in terms of style…

  • carter says:

    I think that you should steer clear of the trap of worrying about the approval or disapproval of others, or someone else’s notion of what is too old, too young, or too whatever. Seriously, who makes up these rules and why should you care?

    If having a tattoo fits in with your idea of who you are or who you’d like to be, then I reckon that’s all you really need to know. Someone up there said that life is short, and she’s right. Figure out what you want and never mind the bollocks.

    • March says:

      Well, I don’t know if it fits in. Who the hell am I? Not sure. If it fit in I suppose I’d have one by now … here, let me go nonsensical. A tattoo seems like a commitment in the direction of a part of me that I have *not* allowed myself to be. It’s transgressive — for *me* not “society.” Maybe I should see a therapist instead, but it’s fun to think about.

      • carter says:

        Alls I’m sayin’ is that it’s your life and body and that business about being not young and/or trampy enough is the stuff that matters not at all, because none of those attitudes originated with you. All you need to do is figure out whether or not you actually *agree* with them. Listen to your inner harlot/Mother Theresa and proceed accordingly, but pay no mind to the fool who came up with the labels.

        • carter says:

          What I’m trying to say is that you obviously know what I’m trying to say before I even tried to say it, but no one here, or anywhere, can answer the question as to whether or not you should get a tattoo.

  • Kristy Victoria says:

    I’ve been debating vintage Guerlain parfum bottles down my spine for over a year now. Dunno if I’ll ever do it. I have NEVER SEEN ANYONE with them though. Or maybe I could get something done with my favorite notes in perfumery. Beautiful flowers and trees all mixed in with spices and whatnot. A perfume sleeve.

    • March says:

      Ooooh, vintage Guerlain bottles! I promise not to steal your idea… Hey, you live here, any local recommendations for places?

  • Christine says:

    I say “Get it!!”. I look like a totally wholesome blue-eyed blonde ….seriously…… like a bonus Brady. I LOVE surprising people who don’t imagine that I could be wild enough to be sporting a tat. AND I have in mind my second one…..after my divorce is final….. I want “My Own” in script across the base of my neck.
    Soccer-Mom image be damned!:d

    • March says:

      The back of the neck is clearly the new thing (?) I like it in theory, except that since I often have very short hair, I feel like it’s too visible on me. The teen girls are loving it though.

  • panteralilly says:

    March I’m 57, been a rebel all my life, long story. But anyway, I got a tattoo on my back, a small dragon around a heart with my ex-husbands name on it, yes, they do tell you to not put a name anywhere on you, because that relationship will surely end. Well, of course my did, but I’m not sorry, because he is the father of my only daughter and I have very good feelings about him. My other tattoo I got a year ago and it’s a dove on my right leg about 5 inches from my ankle, and it hurt like hell! That one was for my daughter whose name is Paloma, dove in Spanish. My point being you are never too old to have a tattoo, just think about it and make sure you get exactly what you want! I’m thinking of a tattoo on my wrist or the back of my neck, it usually takes me at least a year to decide and then I go for it!

    • March says:

      The paloma/dove tattoo is lovely. And I was so happy to hear your story with the ex-husband’s name, I’ve always wondered about those … your explanation makes total sense.

  • Nava says:

    How is it that we’re about 600 miles apart, and you are capable of reading my mind?

    About a month ago, I was seriously considering some ink. I found this black ink drawing of a naked woman (all the bits covered), sitting atop an inkwell holding a giant calligraphy pen. My first reaction was…huh? Then, I starting thinking, this would make an awesome tattoo! That thought lead me on an online tattoo research mission and there were a few days when I almost had my coat on, ready to go investigate the process at one of the well-known “body ink and piercing” emporiums.

    Alas, I never did go, but I stuck up this drawing in an obvious place where I can stare at it on occasion and mull over the idea of inking myself. It would be in a not too obvious place – I was thinking on the back of my shoulder – but I still don’t know if I have the cojones to go through with it. Writing is now something I get paid to do, and I think the image is meaningful, but does that mean if I became a lawyer I’d want the scales of justice tattooed somewhere on my body? Feel free to opine, please. 🙂

    • March says:

      Great minds etc. etc. I LOVE your idea. But, see, there you go — you have this perfect image already.

      See below from Robin R. in Vancouver — no tattoos are the edgy thing! We’re just ahead of our time! It’s like when albums became cool…

      • Nava says:

        I read what Robin said and she has a point. I’m not sure I know what the “urge behind the urge” is in my case; I’m leaning toward late-in-life-rebellion. But she’s right about tattoos being ubiquitous.

        Years ago, I worked with a very conservative woman who had a tiny palm tree tattoo on the back of her shoulder. I saw it one day quite by accident when I was standing at her desk. I knew she had a thing for palm trees and I wasn’t surprised by her choice; I was more surprised that she actually did it. The old, she-doesn’t-seem-like-the-type, cliche. Her answer surprised me (I was in my early 20s): she told me that she’d had so many pre-cancerous moles removed from her back and hated the way the resulting scarring looked that she needed something there she could feel good about. even though I was young, her answer made complete sense to me.

        Back then, I would never have considered ink; although I coveted a flower garland on my ankle after seeing it on the model Stephanie Seymour. I thought it was beautiful and classy and I’ve always liked wearing ankle bracelets. But, I never did it. Hmmm…Maybe it’s true – once you consider one, you can’t just stop there!


  • zara says:

    I too wanted to get a tattoo ever since I was a teenager, but I never mustered the courage to do that and I could never really decide what is I want to see permanenty to my skin…but then I developed an alergy to a dye component (PPD), which is supposedly also in tattoo dyes and pigments (all the dark ones, black, blue,etc.), and basically that’s it with my tattoo I guess.
    But if I were you, I’d get it! 🙂

    • March says:

      Yup, if you are allergic to the dye, that sounds like it won’t be happening. But you could go get a piercing! 😉

      • zara says:

        noooo, no piercings. I don’t mind pierced ears (I have had in fact my ears pierced about 4 times each), but other than that, it just doesn’t feel right.

    • Wordbird says:

      You could get a light coloured tattoo. I hear that they can now do white ones, which sounds really interesting.

  • veuve amiot says:

    I once had a part-time job helping an seriously elderly lady in her daily tasks; bathing, grooming, the works. She had both of her arms covered in tattoos: the ink had faded and ran, but they were still recognizable as traditional naval tattoos. I loved seeing that. It made her that much more of a person with a history, someone who has had their fair share of life and wild days and decisions, stupid or otherwise, rather than just any other old lady.

    Just to pre-empt the whole “but you’ll look ugly once your skin sags” she-bang. 🙂

    I wholeheartedly agree with the damn double standard, by the by. “Tramp stamp”?? I hope karma deals with whoever thought of that one. Sorta-related to topic, I found this article on tattoos/gendered judgments verrah interesting: http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2009/09/16/beyond-the-tramp-stamp/

    • veuve amiot says:

      Small correction: it was actually the conversation about class narratives in the decision to get a tattoo that played out in the comment section under that article which I found most interesting. :)>-

    • March says:

      Well, the only thing I’ll add to “tramp stamp” is my daughters use the name neutrally as “lower back tattoo” — I mean, for men too. And I’ll read the article. Thanks for sharing your story about the lady — again, like the pain, the wrinkly-skin thing doesn’t bother me either.

    • Gretchen says:

      Is it better to be known as a tramp or as a drunken sailor? That’s the reaction that tattooed males often get (probably because so many young recruits got drunk and tattooed on their first liberty!) Speaking of military tribalism, I also know a woman who got a forearm tattoo of a pair of dice and the text “born to lose” when she was in the Marines. Better than a unicorn, imo, though rather downbeat.

      I hear that German-speakers use a phrase that translates as “arse antlers” as slang for a lower-back tattoo. Funny and lacking in gender-stereotyping (unless there’s some subtle connotation in German that I don’t get).

      • Antje says:

        Just to close the loop on the “arse antlers” trivia. There is absolutely no gender-stereotyping with the German “Arschgeweih” – it is refreshingly neutral.

  • Aparatchick says:

    It hurts? 😮 Then that’s out for me. I work with a woman (50) who has one on the back of her shoulder. She and her sister both got them one year when they were on vacation together and thought “what the hell …” Hers is a dolphin – she lives in a house of the beach and spends a lot of her time there, so it is meaningful to her.

    March, I do know what you mean about being in your twenties and trying to grab on to adulthood. I remember complaining to my boss when I was in my early twenties that I wanted to be older so that people would take me seriously (I as a commercial loan officer when it was unusual to see a female one, much less a young female one). He told me to slow down and enjoy the ride; that 50 would come soon enough. And of course he was right and of course I didn’t take his advice. Sigh. And sure, a lot of people get tattoos when they’re in their 20s, but why be limited by that? Get one when you’re 48 or 62 or 73.

  • Nancy C. says:

    March, I have four tattoos, some in visible places and some not. I’ve never had anyone react negatively to the ones that are visible. In fact, I have one on my right wrist which is a rose with leaves on the top of the wrist and a line of tribal scroll that goes all the way around from one side of the rose to the other. I call it my permanent bracelet. I got it about twenty years ago (had the rose recolored about a year ago) and I still get compliments from strangers. Of course everyone asks if it hurt. I tell them yes it did but it’s like having a baby. It hurts for a while but then you have something you love for the rest of your life. And just like a baby, once you have one you start wanting another!! Good luck.

    • March says:

      It’s funny that people wonder if it hurts. I’m thinking: uh, if they’re sticking a needle in you at a high rate of speed over and over, it hurts! 🙂 Having had four kids (and pierced my own nose) the idea of the pain seems sort of irrelevant.

      Your tattoos sound beautiful. Has the appearance changed much over time?

  • Francesca says:

    There are several quite pretty tattoos on display in my office, but one girl has what looks like an eyeball in an eggcup right on her hand. I’ve never had a tat, and at this point in my life, I don’t think I will, but my fantasy tattoo would be a big back tattoo of Japanese woodcut-style wisteria blossoms.

    • March says:

      …. and my fantasy tattoo is the ultimate cliche, I guess, having spent a lifetime looking at Hokusai woodblocks with my dad: a floral design with chrysanthemums, done delicately. My dad, an amateur artist, actually took some sumi-e classes decades ago and did some beautiful things. Just for himself. I love that.

  • marko says:

    I’ve thought the same thing for years March….and at 45, I feel like I’m closer to actually getting one then ever before. My problem is I can never seem to find the right image or word….but after reading your post (and cracking up) maybe I’ll get “cliche” tatt’d somewhere discreetly on body.

    • March says:

      We can get drunk together and get CLICHE tattooed on our arms. And they’d spell it wrong. Seriously, how funny would that be?

      I’ve been online, contemplating images.

  • Jacki says:

    I have a fully covered back, ribs and shoulders and I LOVE it! I also wear a suit to work and a tank top on Saturday. Life is short…find a way to make it work!

    • March says:

      God. Do you have pics up? I’d love to see it.

      • Jacki says:

        I don’t typically have any pictures of the ink out and about. Most of the important people at work know it’s there but I do my part of conforming to the norm by not showing any ink at work.

        I knew I had put a photo up on my blog, here she is…

        A few months prior to getting this piece I had suffered a miscarriage and as a way to help along my healing process I felt inclined to have a blue bird tattooed on my arm. I have always loved birds and it was a way for me to grieve for my loss. I can’t really explain all the “whys” of this piece but I worked with a lovely artist that helped put together a tangible piece of art to match the vision in my mind. This was the last piece I had done and probably still to this day my most favorite.

        I would love to embark on sleeves! I already wear a suit everyday, just haven’t taken the plunge yet. I’m headed to CA for a trip in a couple months and I’ve started to seek out good artists, it’s time again for more “ink therapy”.

        • March says:

          Oh my goodness!!! It’s so pretty!!! I like the softness of it, the delicacy, like a children’s book illustration. Bless your heart. I’m sorry about your loss.

          I did poke around on your blog, looking. And it seems like finding a really good artist for a work-in-progress is part of the fun.

  • (Ms.) Christian says:

    I got both of my tattoos when I was 40-which was a good deal more than 10 years ago. I have had no regrets. Both are on my upper arms and they are smaller than my palm. One is a Chinese style tiger I copied from a beautiful drawing on a Czech stamp. The other is a thin crescent moon with a serious profile face taken from an earring I’ve loved since I was a teenager. Next to the tiger is the I Ching charcter for power and next to the moon is the I Ching character for grace. I love them, they are private (as I don’t “do” sleeveless) and I have never once regretted getting them.

    • nozknoz says:

      Those do sound beautiful on more than one level.

    • March says:

      Those sound great. I’ve been on here a couple of hours btw, writing tomorrow’s review and researching local tattoo parlors — lots of them have websites with portfolios. How long did they take to do, if you don’t mind my asking?

      • (Ms.) Christian says:

        I think the tiger and the character with him took 2 hours, the star and the other character maybe an hour.

        It does “hurt” but it’s not horrible pain, you do get used to it, a good artist will stop often to see how you are doing and I got an endorphin rush both times. The star and the ideogram are smaller than the other tattoo-probably 2x2x2x2 inches square-give or take.