Culture Health

The permanence of tattoos

I know how much I’ve changed over the years. I’d like to think I’ve matured. My outlook on all sorts of things has altered. My lifestyle is radically different now from when I was 18 (if you think I’m a dag now, you should have seen me then), and has changed several times during that time.

Which is why I’m not keen on tattoos, especially big ones, and particularly on prominent parts of the body. Tattoos (along with vasectomies) are, for all intents and purposes, permanent. Sure, you can spend a bomb (if you have it) and you may be able to get them reversed/removed, but don’t count on it.

So it’s a bit like buying an item clothing that you’ll have to wear for the rest of your life. No matter what the circumstances, no matter how fashions change, no matter how you change. It might be okay if it’s small and/or concealable, but if it’s big, you’ll live with it forever.

Frankly, I’m not brave enough to assume that my sentiments on a big tattoo would be what I’d want displayed in 10, 20, 30 years. My outlook will keep changing, and so will my opinions and my situation.

Other people may be different, of course.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

10 replies on “The permanence of tattoos”

Well put Daniel, and I totally agree. Also, women with tattoos is really off-putting to me.

Must admit, you’ve summed up my thoughts on tatoos exactly, I just cannot imagine what I would want done which I would still want in years to come.

I do harbour a secret desire (not so secret now I suppose) to have a tat though.

The classic mistake people (usually people without them!) make when thinking about tattoos is that they are some kind of fashion item or accessory that will eventually become unfashionable or bored of looking at.

Tattoos are art. Chosen carefully they shouldn’t age or be something that will become tiresome. Who could ever get tired of looking at the Mona Lisa for instance?

Declan @

There is a further problem, which is that the canvas the tattoo is gone on undergoes change over time. In my case, the sexy lady on my shoulder (if I’d had one done when 20) would now be a hairy circus freak show.

Also, while I agree with Declan that a good tattoo should be art, I doubt that most people who get them think of them that way. The current plague of spiky armband and squiggly bottom of the back designs has every characteristic of a fad. Except that in fifty years it will be easy to date which of the then grans were young and thoughtless around the year 2007.

Anglina Jolie was “Bill Bob” Thornton’s fifth wife and her “Billy Bob” tattoo was a classic dumb move. I wonder what Brad Pitt thinks of it? I’m not usually into Woman’s Day gossip, but does anyone know if she managed to get it removed? Surely millions of dollars could clean it off.

Anglina has had Billy Bob’s name removed but kept the rest of the the tat – speaking of her tats, she looked gorgeous at the Golden Globe awards, in a wonderful strapless grey gown, that is until she turned around and you could see the tats on her upper back including one that, although I know is something written in an Asian language, looks like a barcode! All the “fashion commentators” mentioned this too, and they are usually the ones telling everyone to get a tat!!

Denise – thanks for the update; her non-existent predicament had been on my mind for some time. God knows why. How come someone hasn’t invented tattoo ink that can be switched on and off, a bit like a rewritable DVD? You could have a whole slab of your arm “inked” and use a special pen to change or switch off the tattoo whenever required. Or does that defeat the purpose of a tattoo?

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