8 Things to Consider Before Getting a Tattoo

Tattoos were once considered taboo in this country, something ne'er-do-wells and criminals got to mark themselves as outsiders in society. Tattoos weren't something respectable people considered for themselves.

That's changed, with something in the neighborhood of 23 percent of all Americans and 32 percent of people between the ages of 30 and 45 having at least one, according to a recent Pew Research Poll. Tattoos clearly aren't just for bikers, sailors or rock stars anymore.

I've had tattoos for more than 20 years at this point, and I've observed a few things that might be helpful to those contemplating getting their first one. I don't claim to be some "tattoo authority," but since the majority of the people I associate with are inked, I've noticed a few good rules of thumb over the years. Things to keep in mind before strolling into a tattoo parlor and getting that heart with "Mom" tattooed on your neck.

8. People Will Judge You. Yes, they will. Even with much more mainstream acceptance of tattoos, people will still make unpleasant and unfair judgments about tattooed people. To some folks, a tattoo will mark you as trashy, no matter what the circumstances of your life. Of course, the types of people who will actually hassle you over a tattoo are total pricks if they're not your own mom or something, so ignore them. Allow creeps like that to go through their joyless lives judging people they don't know. They are probably miserable on some level.

You'll hear the same tired crapola like "Think what it'll look like when you're 80."

Yes, because the average 80-year-old's skin looks wonderful, and a tattoo would destroy that. The tools of tattooing have improved a great deal in recent years, and tattoos look better longer. You can also get them touched up, so there's no reason a person's older tattoos have to look like some hideous blue blob like the ones some older men have. I personally think old people with tattoos look as if they've led interesting lives. Who cares what their skin looks like at that age?

Others will judge a tattooed person in other ways. Trying to get certain types of jobs if you have visible skin art can be difficult. If you're in a very conservative field, expect to cover your tattoos if you manage to get the job at all. Things have mellowed a lot over the years, but expect that a tattoo still might close a few doors.

There's another potential downside to the way others might feel about your tattoos. Some people think that a tattoo erases any sort of personal boundary you have, and total strangers will accost you and ask to see your "work." I've had them just start rolling up my sleeve to see better. Without asking. I guess some people think that a tattooed person wants attention at all times. It's a creepy thing to think.