My tattoo is beautiful… so why am I regretting it?

November 7 2013 | Guest post by Emma
By: Lorena CupcakeCC BY 2.0
Earlier this year, I decided to go ahead with my plans for a half-sleeve tattoo, dedicated to my parents. I have a tattoo artist friend, and she's very good. The tattoo itself is beautiful, and for a very long time I was happy with it, but now I'm feeling some regrets.

It's not the typical case of "I got a horrible tattoo, and now I can't stand it. Help!" I'm self-conscious about disliking it because it is absolutely beautiful. There are some days when I love it… and there are some days when it still feels unnatural to have it. I look back on pictures of myself before I got the tattoo, and I wish I could look like that again.

I can't afford to have it removed, and don't want to do that anyway. I chose the design that I did because it would always remind me of my closest, most-loved family.

Maybe I'm just having trouble adjusting to having a large design on my arm. I don't like it when complete strangers ask me about it, or when men think it's a sign that I want attention and hit on me.

I live in a fairly cold part of the world, so I can hide it most of the time, but it's more unsettling to me that I'm not 100% ok with my decision.

I don't want to get rid of it; I want to love it. I want to learn how to accept not only this part of my body, but other parts of myself. I have a lot of body issues, and I'm seeing this tattoo regret as a way to practice self-acceptance and learn to love myself as a whole.

Are there Homies out there who have regretted tattoos? How have you dealt with them and learned to love them?

  1. I have many tattoos, and I understand where you're coming from. When I got my first really big one two or three years ago, I loved it… but I also kind of hated it. It's in the center of my back, between my shoulder blades and features a koi fish swimming through a bunch of stargazer lilies. It's beautiful, but I had this weird detachment where I just couldn't accept that it was a part of me. I had it modified a few times thinking that might help– I added some color here and there, but it still didn't feel like me.

    I got another big tattoo some time after that– a big panther on my right calf. That one I love, love, love, while my other tattoo I'm now just sort of okay with. I'm not sure why I have those feelings. I think what helped me move to being okay with it was just seeing it like a scar. Like something that is just a part of you and you don't have a choice in the matter. You can't get rid of a scar, just like you can't get rid of a tattoo. I guess you just have to slowly incorporate it into your identity.

    I don't know if that helps, but know that you're not alone!

    • Yes — I love this outlook.

      I have three smaller tattoos and one large tattoo. The large tattoo was also my most recent tattoo (around two years ago), while the smaller ones I got over a period of a few years in my youth.

      My first tattoo is also my ugliest tattoo. It's a star on my lower back. I got it on my 18th birthday, right after I moved to Seattle. I was alone. I knew no one. It was my birthday and I wanted to do something to commemorate it.

      Even though the tattoo is (honestly) ugly as sin (it looks like the freaking Carl's Jr. Happy Star, minus the smiley face!), I wouldn't change it for anything.

      I'm 32 now and a completely different person that I was then, but every time I catch a glimpse of it, it reminds me of that young 18 year old girl — all alone in the big city, determined to make a life for herself — and I love the tattoo for what it represents.

      My other tattoos (my name on my ankle, done on a drunken whim one 4th of July, another star on my shoulder blade, done Sharpie-style when I was in my too-hipster-for-you phase) are just meh. I don't feel strongly about them either way. I don't love them, I don't hate them. They're just part of me.

      My most recent tattoo, the large one on my leg, is completely symbolic and I *love* it. I put a lot of thought into it — it's a large floral motif, each flower representing a person or place or time in my life that is important to me.

      There's a golden poppy for California, where I grew up. Edelweiss for my maternal German grandmother. Iris for my paternal grandmother, whose name was Iris. A dark purple tulip for my husband, who brought me a bouquet of dark purple tulips on our first date. Forget-Me-Not flowers so that I always remember where I'm from and where I'm going. Plumeria for Indonesia, where I live now. A dahlia for Seattle, the city I consider home and where I did all of my 'growing up'. Star Jasmine, because there was a giant star jasmine plant outside of my maternal grandmother's house and the smell of jasmine takes me back every single time.

      There's also the words 'Gadis Pantai' mixed in the arrangement — gadis pantai is Indonesian. It translates to 'Girl from the Coast', or more literally, 'Beach Girl', but I included it because it's the title of a book written by a famous Indonesian author named Pramoedya Ananta Toer.

      It's a book he wrote about his grandmother and my floral tattoo was inspired by the death of my paternal grandmother and my desire to honor her memory, and the memory of my late maternal grandmother as well. The novel includes this quote:

      'Such was the love of this grandson for his grandmother that two years after the death of his mother, when she herself fell gravely ill, he vowed to her that someday he would try to tell the world her life story.

      'But why?' she asked humbly. 'I'm no one, just a girl from the coast.'

      'But you are everyone, Grandma,' the young Pramoedya told her. 'You are all the people who have ever had to fight to make this life their own.'

    • I just got my first tattoo a few hours ago and I'm really torn. I LOVE the design, and it was done beautifully, but I'm really feeling the buyers remorse. I hate the feeling because the design is what I wanted, and to some extent I don't love the position, but mostly I can't yet comprehend that it's NEVER going away. I really want to love this new addition to my body, but right now I'm wishing I could go back in time so I can chicken out, say "never mind" to the artist, and go home. Luckily, it's on my thigh so I can hide it easily, but I'm sad that I don't adore it. I'm sure I'll get used to it.

      • I have 3 large pieces.upperback sunflowers, Russian doll, and upper arm flowers. Each tattoo I got I hate through its transition period and the really enjoyed them on me after they settle into your skin. They really become part of you. You start to not notice them when you walk by the mirror…. All I can say is…, I just got a court tattoo and I hate it !! Lol but this is the beauty of it. It's a way of showing resilience and flexibility … We mold and change constantly can't fight it

        It will get easier trust me!!!

    • I stumbled upon this post because I was feeling the same way. I already have a large piece on my ribs. I got a large piece on my inner left arm. It's really beautiful – it's a watercolour mermaid sitting on a rock with the ocean under. I was going to get it under my ribs, but I loved it so much, I decided (over 2 months) to put it on my arm. When I look at it, I think it's beautiful, but when I catch it out of my left eye, I don't like it.

      The first time I got a tattoo it felt like a claim on my own body. It was art. This one was also art, it was a claim, and a representation of finding balance in this world. I feel like there is a reason I have it, even if I don't know it now. I think you are absolutely right with body acceptance. For a long time I've struggled with an eating disorder, looking at my body as its weight, and neglecting the other parts that are there. Maybe this tattoo is here to help me accept and look at my body as its own piece of art. All of it. Thanks, in the end, I'm so happy that I'm not the only one who has these feelings.

  2. I haven't had tattoo regret myself, but your reaction would not be uncommon among my group of friends who have had large pieces done. It can take a while to get used to looking down and seeing something so different from before, and so permanent. You know how when you get a hairstyle, or a new visible piercing, and you can't stop looking at it? And I know I always have an adjustment period after changing my look up even a little, and thats with things that are temporary.You drastically altered your body, I would be concerned if there wasn't some adustment period. You say you had this done earlier this year: it may not have been enough time yet. Check out the thread from a couple weeks ago about tattoos, and you'll find some witty comebacks for those annoying men, and as you become more comfortable with your new ink you may find that you notice other people's stares less. That said, if you're really worried about never feeling comfortable in your new skin, it may be time to start putting a small amount of money away each month for removal (and if it's the idea of permanence that is bothering you, you may find that having an "out" helps you adjust).

    • I was going to say almost the same thing! It has taken me a significant amount of time to adjust to many of my tattoos once the "honeymoon love" phase has past. For over a year after getting text on my forearm I would get catch the black in my peripheral vision almost daily, think it was a spider and freak out a little!!

      I would liken it to a new relationship, theres always that first part when you are totally lovestruck with your new partner and you commit more to each other and move in together….and then the rose coloured glasses come off and you realise that you have to learn to live with all their little habits and all the things that drive you crazy – maybe you lay awake at night thinking about smothering them with a pillow just to make the snoring stop! But you love them and so over time you become accustomed to the way they have changed your life.

      After time I have found that each has integrated itself in my identity in its own way, I hope with time that yours does the same

    • Today is wednesday. I got my first tattoo on saturday and I am in a full blown panic. I'm 54, I thought about it for a long time, but now that it's there, I can't stop thinking about it. It's an infinity sign with my 2 kids names in it, so it's meaningful, but I just don't feel like myself. I have already looked up tattoo removal. It does give me some comfort to know that others have felt regret, even though they really wanted the tattoo. Thanks

      • Hi Karen, long time since you posted but wondered how you felt now … I'm 44, just got a tattoo 2 days (symbolic of my kids) and also in full blown panic! TB

  3. I think it's a little bit natural to take some time getting used to yourself looking different. I've had adjustment periods to new tattoos, where I'm just surprised to see something on my skin that I've been used to seeing undecorated, and it takes a little while to not be startled by it. And I won't lie to you and say that the bullshit that comes from having tattoos…people assuming you want attention, people deciding to talk to you about it on days you really just want to be left alone, people touching your skin…ever goes away. There is a stigma attached to being tattooed, and that might be part of your problem.

    I won't say I "regret" any of mine, though I do have a couple that are less than stellar. I have a big one on my back that was done by a friend in his basement when I was 21. He screwed it up (it's an Indian mandala) by trying to get creative with the design. In doing so, he made it not mean what it's supposed to mean anymore. And there was really no fixing it. For a long time, I was annoyed by it, though it was on my back so I really didn't see it very often. I planned to save up, have the screwed up portions hit with a laser a couple of times and then fixed to preserve the meaning of the piece. Then, the friend who did it for me died; and suddenly, the fact that he did it for me became more important than the original symbolic meaning, and I found myself showing it off more often than wanting to cover it up.

    Maybe, every time you look at it and feel that bad response that society has instilled in our brains about tattoos, remind yourself of your family and how much they (and the tattoo commemorating them) mean to you. I hope you figure it out.

    • BlueCanary –
      This is great advice. I don't think about my tattoo that much because it's on my lower back, but sometimes I am still surprised when I see it in the mirror. And I think you're right that some of my feelings toward it are based on how other people respond to it ("tramp stamp" etc) versus how I originally thought about it.

  4. From the sounds of it, maybe some of your changing feelings is less about the tattoo, more about how others treat you now that you have one (and maybe that is colouring your self-perceptions).

    I think @Emily is on to something in that having only one tattoo leaves you really focused on that, especially if you see it. I admit that didn't happen for me, but my tattoo is on my shoulder blade and I rarely see it and other people rarely see it. But when there's just one, it can feel a little like it isn't really who you are. You aren't a tattoo-having person. But what does that mean?

    And we're back to perceptions. It really is an identity thing I think. How do you perceive yourself differently because of that tattoo? Has your self-identity changed to make that part of it and normal for you, or are you still focused on a previous identity.

    This is one reason that a lot of people test out a tattoo ahead of time, so they know what it's like to have it. It really does change your appearance in a permanent way, unlike many other ways we change our appearance that can be reversed (hair grows out, piercings can be switched or removed, surgical implants can be taken out, glasses can be switched for contacts, clothes can change).

  5. I have nothing to contribute to this other than I AM SO HAPPY this post went up today. I have an appointment later this month to get my first big tattoo (on my upper left arm, I have four other small tattoos) and I'm totally not sure how I'm going to feel about it after it happens. I'm really excited about the tattoo and it should be beautiful, but I totally freaked out when I got bangs two months ago and I knew those could grow out. I have tiny fears that I'll get this big, beautiful tattoo and then cry for six months.

    • I completely agree. I've been in the process of planning out my next tattoo for a bit. At first, it was going to be something to remind me of my mom and sister, who I were/are two of my best friends. Then, my mom passed away, and I still want to do something, but now it will be in honor and memorial instead of just in honor. I can't afford to get done what I want right now, and I'm terrified that I will have tattoo regret, even though I know I will love it.

    • Temporary tattoos! Your appointment being later this month it won't really give you time to get used to it (and even so the permanence is still an adjustment) BUT I find that temporaries really have helped inform my placements and how it affects clothing choices and such. When I found myself worrying about sleeveless dresses in front of my mother, it made me reconsider a bicep tattoo. When I'm worried about the design rather than just placement (or if I have time), I have had the tattoo artist draw the entire thing in colored permanent markers–it takes a few weeks to wear off so you want to try it a few months before your intended tattoo date, but it has definitely helped me think critically about the tattoos before I decide to get them.

      None of that helps the OP obviously but maybe someone else!

    • I know this post is a year old, but I'm just reading through your comment and I'm kind of feeling the same way right now. I just booked my first big tattoo session for my shoulder and upper arm, they're roses and I carefully selected an amazing artist so I know they will look amazing! Problem is I don't have any visible tattoos (other than 3 tiny stars on my wrist) and the ones I do have are not visible to me and kind of small. I'm so scared, but I've wanted this for a while. I'm going to go through with it, but I'm just wondering how you made out with yours? Did you have regrets?

  6. I got my first tattoo when I was 19 and it sure is silly. A big old ugly heart with wings and some terrible font in latin. When I was thinking about my halter wedding dress and it being in my wedding pictures I wanted to rush to the tattoo shop and say "FIX MY 19 YEAR OLD MISTAKE!" but I didn't have the money or the time. I had to come to terms with myself that these tattoos (especially the ones with the latin words in script that no one can read) are a moment in your life. Whenever I start thinking about how ugly it is or how uncomfortable it makes me, I try to think what about what I got it for. Exactly how I felt when it was finished. And I also look for those who are tattooed around me so I don't feel "freakish" and I feel more a part of the club.

    I totally agree with Emily above me. You do have to incorporate it into your identity.

    • I totally agree with this.

      I have one tattoo, of birds flying across the back of my neck/upper back. I got the tattoo at a point in my life when a lot was changing – I'd moved by myself to a new city, I was neck-deep in eating disorder recovery, and I was trying to understand who I was as an independent adult. At the time that tattoo was incredibly important. Would I get the same tattoo now? No. But it's still beautiful and I consider it a physical reminder of that time in my life, like a scar. I remind myself sometimes that even if I wouldn't get the same tattoo today and even if I don't love it aesthetically like I did when I was 23, I respect the choices I made back then and I wouldn't want to take them back or change them by removing the tattoo.

      • I have moved around quite a bit the last several years, and every time I live in a new state I get a tattoo there. They all have other meanings attached to them, but they also serve as a reminder of my experiences where I was living at the time. I feel like even if one day I regret the tattoo for some reason, I will still be glad of the reminders of how I grew and changed in each place I've been.

        • I've studied a bit of neuroscience, and learned that the human brain (particularly the prefrontal cortex which is the primary decision making part of the brain) is not fully developed until age twenty five. This explains why so many young people in their teens or early twenties frequently make decisions which are not necessarily in their long term best interests.

          Prior to the tattoo/body piercing craze (which is very likely temporary), people would maintain photo albums to remember the various phases of their lives without needing a permanent tattoo to serve that function.

          In recent years I have seen some tattoos that are genuinely interesting and beautiful, but feel that permanently altering one's appearance via tattoos is probably not the wisest of decisions. There are many other ways to express one's uniqueness.

          • First of all, how temporary is this craze? Because it has certainly been going on for many decades, at least.

            Secondly, I never buy into the theories that people in their teens and twenties can't make life-long decisions. Partly because it isn't science. It's a theory. And the ages presented are always different. The other reason is that a lot of people over the age of 25 make a lot of stupid mistakes, while a lot of teens make really stellar choices, sometimes about tattoos, sometimes about careers, sometimes about things even more important, like social activism. I loathe ageism.

          • Heres a question: Could ones decisions before 25 directly contribute to developing their prefrontal cortex? There are so many nuanced and beautifully human stories here from people who've accepted their history and, arguably, grown from it. Cheers

    • Wow. I feel exceptionally better about my tattoo after reading your words. Thank you. Maybe I will reconsider a cover-up.

  7. Maybe this is making myself feel better, but I think it's totally natural to regret electing to make a big, permanent change to your appearance. I can cut my hair and mourn my lost hairs as if they're never, ever coming back. So of course the pigment in my flesh is going to occasionally make me pine for the days when my skin was plain.
    I have two tattoos. One behind my right ear (which is rather hard to cover up considering that I hate wearing my hair down and which my godson insists is a monkey from Barrel of Monkeys fame) and one on my left inner arm (which people always ask me whether or not is done in Sharpie–even though it's purple–and it's in Latin so everyone wants to know what it means, but no one seems satisfied with my explanation.)
    Like any other facet of my appearance, I have good days and bad. But like any other part of my appearance, it's a part of me and it's a part of what makes me so fantastically, awesomely ME.

  8. It's because of this I have waited so far ten years before I will get my half-sleeve. I wanted one the moment I turned 18, but after getting a few little ones, I told myself to wait. That if I still loved the idea of a half sleeve when I was nearing thirty then I'll get one. I got three relatively small tattoos in my late teens, and to this day I still love them and find them beautiful and love showing them off.

    The main reason I'm glad I waited was that it gave me time to truly think through exactly what I wanted and make it custom to my aesthetic and have parts of it that mean a lot to me. I've also been visualizing my arm, telling myself "soon this will be tattooed", and I can't help but look forward to the day.

    • I love this! I got all four of my small ones in a 6 month time span. I still really love two of them, but the other two I can take or leave. I told myself to slooooooow down and wait a little while before getting something huge so I could think it through, but I'm still a little anxious about it.

  9. I totally know how you feel. I already had two other tattoos and both are on my back so I don't really think about them too much. For my 30th birthday I got two tattoos on the inside of my forearms that were very special to me and represented a lot that I had gone through. They were even more beautiful than I could have hoped for, but as they healed I started to feel weird about them. I didn't regret them, but I would look at pictures of me in my wedding dress and think, "I'll never look like that again." But of course I wouldn't! I've aged, I've bought a house, started a business, gone through so much, why would I want to look like I did over 3 years ago? I'm always going to look different. Although my wedding was awesome I wouldn't go back to being that person now. I'm stronger and wiser and my tattoos are a part of that journey. I also did this stupid thing where I would be watching a tv show or a movie and see a beautiful tattoo-free actress and think, "Now I will never look like that…" OF COURSE I WON'T!! She's a famous actress who weighs 110lbs with professional hair makeup artists who made her look perfect! Tattoos are not the only thing holding me back from looking like Karen Gillan.

    Time helped. Just getting used to them and allowing them to feel like a part of me. Also looking at tattoo websites or the tattoo tag on Tumblr. Seeing other women with tattoos made me feel less like a freak. Maybe going to a tattoo convention and seeing other people's ink will help you feel less alone. I've also come to realize that I may never feel 100% behind any decision I make, about my life or my appearance. There can be room for doubt without feeling guilty.

    • Thank you for this! I just got a half sleeve started yesterday and am having serious regret because of the drastic change. You really nailed how I'm feeling and put a positive spin on it. Thank you!!

    • I completely related to this comment.. It summed me up 100% and my feelings towards my tattoos and what I have gone through the last 3 years! Lol

    • You nailed it, Chantel. I guess the key feeling here is "I will never be the same," but that is the beauty of tattoos, in my opinion. It is a reminder that we are always changing, that some of the choices we make are irremediably permanent.
      I just got a new one, my 6th actually, but it is the biggest one of all. It's in my right forearm so that makes it more "disturbing" to me right now, but it was beautifully done and I actually really like it. It's the getting used to seeing it on my that is taking me some time, but reading your words is so refreshing. We humans are all the same.
      I just had this thought. Us who are here sharing this are inked people. We are already amazingly fearless and stand out from the crowd. I bet that most of us, if not all, are open minded, edgy, equality supporting, fun loving characters and having those pieces of art on our bodies set up apart in the same way our voice, thoughts and behaviors do, so all I can say is I'm feeling about 100% better now that I see I'm not alone. Everytime I look at my stunning Aries Ram outline (in red!) I will now think of all of you and I will never feel regret again. Thanks!

    • "I've also come to realize that I may never feel 100% behind any decision I make, about my life or my appearance. There can be room for doubt without feeling guilty."

      This is such an important concept throughout life! I love this!

    • Chantel, Your lovely positive outlook has totally transformed how I feel, I have suffered regret extremely badly since having a tattoo on my upper back. My mind has done the rounds, I decided against removal (removal-leaves scars and upsets family members, I still have the scars from a previous incomplete lasering where I even surprised myself by crying when the ink dispersed!) After my new addition I had 'my skin will never be the same again' syndrome and 'isn't her bare skin lovely, I've ruined mine' etc, etc, and had good days and bad days with it, a love/hate relationship, I feel comfort that I have not suffered alone as non-tat people do not understand and just say 'you chose it'. If only they knew!! Well, after reading your uniquely wise opinion, I feel totally different, have stopped the mental punishment I was giving myself!! When I start to think negative, your words cut in and I see sense! I can't thank you enough! X

    • When I finished the first of my two half sleeves (upper arms) I had a similar, yet also different reaction. It was my first large visible tattoo, and right after the piece was completed, I had looked it in a mirror at the tattoo shop, and it seemed so right that it was there, and of course I had just sat for several hours and watched it being completed,so well, of course it was there. And I was in a tattoo shop, and everybody there was tattooed, or getting tattooed, and so was I. So, yeah, no big deal, right?.

      But the next morning I got up and immediately started my cleaning routine. In the process, I glanced up and and saw myself in the bathroom mirror. It was the first time I that truly saw my tattooed self in my normal life context. It really shocked me – it was like I was looking at another person, a stranger. Somehow seeing the tattooed me in my normal routine, made it suddenly very real, and very foreign. My sleeve seemed huge, bigger than I remembered at the shop. At first it freaked me out, and I thought, “Omigod, I did this?”

      I went closer to the mirror sort of looked at myself for a while, and I do remember saying out loud, “My skin will never be plain again. My arm is going to be like this forever.” But I also remember smiling after saying that. I was actually exhilarated by the thought that it would never be the same. I liked that feeling. I made a choice to alter my body forever. “Yes, I did this!”

      It did take me about a year to get over the surprise of seeing it in the mirror in the morning, or catching it out of the corner of my eye when I was in the middle of doing something else. When I took a shower I sometimes scrubbed at it especially hard. just to prove to myself that it was indeed there forever. But now it is just a part of me, both physically and emotionally.

      For me, that is part of the appeal of tattoos — you have to go through process of healing until your body finally accepts the tattoo as a permanent part of your skin, and you also have to go through a mental healing process, until your brain finally accepts them as permanent part of you. You have to adjust to being different. I love that.

  10. My very first tattoo was ginormous. It covered the entire front of my right thigh, from hip to kneecap. I love it, it's beautiful, but for months after I got it, it FREAKED me out. It was like, holy shit, my leg will never look the same again EVER. It took time to adjust to such a big change in my body. I didn't really see it as regret so much as I saw it as a period of adjustment. It's a big change to something as personal as your body. I'd give it more time, I've had mine now for 6 years and I honestly sometimes forget it's even there, it's just like the freckle on my shoulder or the scar on my left knee. It's become a part of me.

  11. i have three tattoos. one i got when i was 18, and i still love it, although it's top-center of my back so i often forget it's there unless i catch a glimpse of it in the mirror when i'm coming out of the shower, or someone comments on it when i'm wearing a tank top or something. my other two i got within four months of each other when i was 27 and are memorial tattoos for my late husband. one is beautiful (a swallow with sprigs of rosemary and forget-me-nots, and a ribbon with his initials and "ego dilecto meo et dilectus meus" in his handwriting on the left side of my chest) and the other always always always sparks questions, because it's mostly in binary (it's ALL numbers) and i put it on the inside of my left forearm, about halfway down, so only long sleeves cover it. people constantly ask what it is/means. in some ways i regret not putting that one up higher so at least 3/4 sleeves would cover it, so i can avoid questions and also avoid having to wear long sleeves in summer when i go back to work. the swallow, i regret not putting up higher so you can see all of it when wearing things other than a bathing suit or just a bra. usually only the tail of the swallow pokes out, and it's so beautiful. whenever i see them though, i think about what they represent and how much that means to me and the regrets fade…the memory is worth it.

    either way, there's always an adjustment period, especially for larger pieces and for pieces that are visible on a daily basis. i would wager that the less time you gave yourself to get used to the idea of a particular tat before getting it, the longer the adjustment period is. my first tat i'd picked out when i was 14 and still loved at 18, but i still count myself lucky that i still like it at 30 because i was so young. i'm planning a large back piece to represent my own perseverance during the very tough time in my life following the death of my husband (it should cover all of the upper left quadrant, plus trail a little into the lower right and over my left shoulder/down my left arm a little), but i've been planning it for close to 3 years now. try giving yourself a little more time to get used to it. i also like the idea of putting a little money away each month for removal, even if you don't think you'll use it, because having that out can take some of the pressure off and help you feel more comfortable with it. also, remember what it means to you and what it represents. good luck.

    • I agree with the majority of your advice and appreciated your story. I'm not trying to be a negative Nancy here….but "tattoo removal" is not something that is ever going to bring your skin back to the state that it was in before you were tattooed. You're either looking at a cleaner slate for new work to go over….or a fairly gnarly looking scarred area. For better or worse, once the decision is made to put ink in the skin, it will never again look like the fresh virgin skin it was before no matter what you do.

  12. I totally understand being caught off-guard and maybe put off by the attention. It's actually one of the major reasons I decided I don't want a larger tattoo. My hair has been dyed blue for the last 6 months, was yellow for 6 before that, and to be honest I am super sick of talking about it. To the point that I'm contemplating dying it brown again just so I don't have to have any more conversations about how my hair matches my eyes / shirt / car / sky / etc.

  13. I agree with most commenters about having a natural adjustment period. My reaction to my biggest tattoo was the opposite, I hated it at first but it's growing on me. I was so excited to get it, but it did not turn out the way I wanted. I cried so hard realizing my arm would never look the way it did before and thinking about how I had ruined my skin. Other people seem to like it, but positive comments don't mean squat if I don't like it. I've learned to accept it since then though, and plan on adding to it to make it a half sleeve.

    What helps me is kind of a depressing thought, but true: in the end, it doesn't matter. One day, I won't be here anymore. My skin won't be here anymore. What I looked like while I was on this Earth will not matter. Good or bad, you will probably have your tattoos for the rest of your life, but when thinking about the scope of eternity, life is not that long, and I might as well enjoy getting inked while I'm here! It's as much about the experience to me as it is about the resulting artwork. Also, I think of every tattoo like a piece of a map telling the story of where I've been. Tattoos become a part of you that like everything else you have to learn to love:)

    • I really enjoyed your comment. I don't have any tattoos myself, but sometimes I think – "well Me, you only have one life – maybe you should just go for it!"

      • Just be ready for an emotional roller coaster:) My first ones were small and on my back, that way I thought if I did end up not liking them one day I didn't have to look at them. Now my attitude almost a decade later is "screw it, let's do it"! They keep getting bigger and bigger (that's what she said) and in more visible spots. But it's not for everyone either. People might say the same thing about other body mods but there are some that I would never personally do.

    • When people say "how is that tattoo going to look when you're old and wrinkly?" this is what I think about. Sure, I wanted to wait to get tattooed until I knew I was ready and loved my artist and design, and I'm glad I didn't rush into it. But when I was in the early stages of considering whether I actually wanted to go through with a tattoo at all, I tried to imagine what I'd feel like, as an old woman looking back on my life, if I had never taken the plunge. I think I would totally regret NOT getting my tattoo! It's so meaningful to me, it's something I wanted to do in my life, and I'm happy I'll get to have my tattoo for many, many years. And eventually, tattooed or not, we all end up with baggy skin, and then with no skin at all. I'm going to be one badass 80 year old.

      • YES! I sat on the bus next to a woman who had to at least be in her late 60s, and she was COVERED in tattoos. Brightly colored ones, text, designs, etc. Some of them were better than others, but they were all so cool and she looked really amazing. The best part (to me) was that she was totally wearing a regular ole grandma-style pantsuit and hat, totally dressed in a very regular, non-attention attracting way, but she had so many tattoos. It was really cool to see.

    • Wow. I've screen grabbed this as it's just calmed me down after getting a rather large tattoo that I'm not happy with. Wise words.

    • Thanks for this comment, it helped me a lot. I don't hate my tattoo but it's just not how I expected it to be, and I don't feel how I expected to feel. I feel very, very weird, and emotional, I can't eat or smile, I just feel numb and all I can think of is this thing on my back. Your comment gave me hope. thanks

  14. I have a large, very pretty flur de lis tattoo on my back that i got in rebellion to a boyfriend who didn't like tattoos. I didnt really love it for a while. But now, a few years later i am married (dif guy) and very happy and i realize my tattoo is pretty, and represents a time in my life where i stood up for what i wanted.

    • I have a "got it in defiance of a boyfriend who hated tattoos" tattoo, too! And even though it's not one I'd get today, I still love what it represents to me.

      • Why would you do that to someone? My wife (57) just got her "first" (says it's going to be her only. yeah right) and I have been depressed since. It's been a week. I can't eat, sleep, I don't want to do anything. My passions have lost all of their meaning. I just want to sit in solitude and be sad. All of this and I don't even "hate" tattoos. "Honey. It's a nice looking tattoo. Everyone will love it." I told her. "Except you." she replied. I almost cried like a baby.
        It's probably going to take me longer to get used to it than her. And it's not something that I can just ignore. She knows I feel this way but I don't know if she has any regret.
        I don't want her to taint her view of it so I keep it to myself and suffer.

        • It's 100% not a normal response to feel depressed about someone else getting a tattoo, especially as you said you don't even hate them. Your wife is just doing something for herself/expressing herself and that's a great thing! You should definitely talk to her more seriously about this so you can get to the bottom of why she got the tattoo and why it makes you feel this way.

  15. I have a huge back tattoo that was in tribute to my mother who passed away a few years ago. It was my way of finalizing my grief. I based my design off of a Japanese literature horror story about two souls that were so in love they were destined to be together forever. They would meet once, fall madly in love with one another, spend one night together never to see each other again; till the other comes haunting the living one gradually killing them, over and over again in every reincarnation they have. It may seem kind of odd, and I get a lot of looks about it when people see it and ask me about it, but it made the most sense to me when I read the story. Thus far I haven't regretted this tattoo. I have regretted others in the past. In fact this one is covering one I am sorry I got. My tattoo is not done, it was 5.5 hours in the chair just to outline it and will probably take at least another 10-15 to color it. It gives me solace to see it, and to know it's there, to carry it around with me. Typically with a back tattoo most people don't see it regularly, but I am not very typical I am a burlesque performer and belly dancer so people see it a lot. While I am not offended when people ask me about it, it gets really annoying. And I am totally not down with the touchy, touchy. This was also my first large tattoo. And I am proud of it and I refuse to feel sorry for something that brings me so much peach and joy.

    • That story sounds incredibly beautiful. I can completely understand being inspired by it! (Do you mind if I ask for the title/author?)

  16. I have two half sleeves and a huge one that goes right across my shoulders. I also have a small cupcake on my left wrist. My designs are very feminine, mostly flowers, and all for someone in my life that I love. Most days I don't even think about them, I've had them for so long. But when my tattoos are exposed, I become so self conscience. Like the world is looking at me. I'm rockabilly, I'm far from the only person in my scene with tattoos, but still sometimes I feel like I'm on display. It's an odd feeling.
    People also have no boundaries, they ask inappropriate questions, they grab, they touch, they just over step any limit. My right arm is a memorial to my past finance who died at the age of 25. I didn't put his name, I put what we called us a couple which was Rohn. I have to explain who Rohn is all the time. Which in turns makes people feel either embarrassed they asked or feel sad for me.
    I also work at a really conservative job, REALLY conservative job. When my boss saw my cupcake for the first time, she flipped. I had already had the tattoo for two years before she noticed mind you. (She doesn't know about the rest of them)
    It makes it hard to be accepting of the art you picked out when people around you seem question it. I love my designs, but sometimes, I want to hide them.

  17. Trigger warning for this comment! Scars and causing them, nothing graphic.

    I didn't regret my tattoo after I got it, and I thought I was prepared for how it would change when my body changed. It's on my hip-bone, so it's in an area that's known to stretch and deform tattoos with pregnancy. So it is a physical representation of he fact that my body changed, grew and stretched parts of me including my tattoo, and it wasn't because I was growing another human being. That change and the lack-of-higher-purpose for it has been very difficult for me to handle, and loving my body because of it has been very difficult. So on the one hand, there's a little sadness about the tattoo being stretched funky, and sometimes wishing I'd gotten it elsewhere (actually half of the desire to have it elsewhere is just because I want it seen more often!). On the other hand, I don't actually REGRET it in the sense that if I could I would go back and change it. But I still plan on getting pregnant at some point, so I'm not planning or saving for any big tattoo fixer service any time soon. It is what it is, and it's going to be what it's going to be for a good long while.

    So I too am using the tattoo as a focal point for the difficult self-love. Surprisingly, the only stretch marks that bother me are the ones inside the tattoo (I had so many from puberty that all faded out and other than being itchy sometimes which can make me panic, they don't seem to bother me emotionally). It helps me remember to put lotion on to make the stretch marks less itchy because "gotta treat the thirsty tattoo" but hey the rest of me gets lotion too! It helps me remember to touch my body which in turn helps me be comfortable with it, and the scars through my happy memory are pretty representative of my life so it helps me curb the occasional desire for self-harm. Remembering to love on myself and the choices I've made that affect my physical self have helped me remember to love on myself and the choices I make with my emotional self.

  18. I got some lyrics tattooed on my forearm about a year ago and it freaked me out for a long time. I still get angry when people touch it without permission or make asinine comments about it but I love my tattoo and I let that other shit roll off me.
    I learned to love it/accept it/not mourn the skin it covers by looking at it a lot. I'd look at it, freak out, and then really look at it: think about how beautiful it is, think about the day I got it, admire how well it was healing, etc. Whenever I worried that I was going to regret it forever I'd sternly tell myself that I could either regret it or decide to love it, but either way I was stuck with it.
    So give yourself some time, don't fight your misgivings but deal with them honestly and if you have to, go the tough love route.

  19. I had serious negative feedback from family after a couple of my tattoos- so much so that I had regret about them. In this sense, I can empathize with what you're going through. I want to be able to completely love them. They are beautiful designs that I loved as personal sketches and am proud to have contributed to. It's hard to deal with negative self-talk or negative other-talk about them. I deal with it by reminding myself that my skin is my skin, and I love myself. I love my body, including modifications and scars that are left behind by life, or by the decision to get a tattoo. I found that embracing the image as my skin instead of as an image on my skin was the tipping point for me.

  20. My first tattoo was two large colourful swallows on my chest. I've had them for about 3 years now. When I first got them, I found it hard to deal with the attention, but its really just part of having a visible, and sometimes different, tattoo (especially if you live somewhere that's on the conservative side, like I do). You can't avoid it, and at the end of the day, most people who get tattoos get them somewhere where others can see them, so its best just to brace yourself for questions and comments, and realise its just part of it! For people worrying about getting tattoos, and if they will like them or not like them in the future, my best advice is to get a really good quality tattoo by a really good artist. At least that way, even if its not your favourite in the future, it'll still look good and be a lovely piece of art!
    I treated my tattoo like an item of clothing I'm wearing for the rest of my life – if you were going to buy a dress that you had to wear forever, you probably would buy something extremely good quality, right?! 🙂

  21. I have 9 tattoos currently. 4 I got when I was 18-19, and 5 I've gotten in the past few years (late 20s-early 30s). I don't regret the ones I got when I was younger, none of them are embarrassing, but none of them are things I would choose to get now, and I'm glad that I went for less-visible places at that point in my life. They still mean something to me and I'm glad I have them, but also glad I have them in places that are more hidden (lower back, stomach, back of my shoulder, back of my ankle).

    The tattoos I've gotten more recently are all very large and/or visible. And I love, love, love them. But I've still had those moments, especially when I got the first one–3 lines of text covering my whole forearm–of being unsettled by the prominence and permanence of it. I'm planning on getting a half-sleeve whenever I can afford it, and even though I've got very tatted-up looking arms already, and I've wanted this half sleeve for a long time and my artist is amazing and I know it will be gorgeous, I still feel apprehensive sometimes when I think about that large of a part of my body being covered in ink. I know I'll still do it, and I know I'll love it. But I also think the apprehensions and the mixed feelings are normal when making such a huge and permanent change.

  22. When I completed my masters I had a huge panic attack about 2 of my 3 tattoos (very small but visible) in a professional setting. I started the process of having them lasered off. After one or two appointments, I had a serious accident. So serious, I've not been able to work since. Eventually, I went back to have the removal completed, but I have to admit that I regret having one of them removed! I got it at a time in my life when I was happiest. It was a post-card to myself that I'll never have again and it really makes me sad that I no longer have it.
    Maybe if I was able to actually start a professional life I wouldn't regret it, but since I was injured immediately after graduating, I only mourn the loss of the image and the happy memories around it. Something to consider if you decide to do forward with removal!
    I should add that tattoo removal is a very long and expensive process too. Not to mention painful. A lot more painful than the application of the tattoo! The bigger the piece and the more colour involved, the longer it will take, the more expensive it will be, and the removal may not be complete. Blacks/blues remove fairly well. Reds/oranges do not. You may end up with splotchy marks that will never go away. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but it's good to know!

    • I'm sorry about your injury. My step sister is an English professor at a university and she has visible tattoos. One of my college professors also had a big one on her thigh and wore skirts every day. I think society is getting a lot more comfortable with them and won't judge you as harshly as you might think. I do know where you're coming from though, which is why I was hesitant to get one in a visible place until I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I hope you recover and I hope you get your tattoo back if it makes you happy!

  23. Thank you so much for this post! I am in the exact same boat and I was embarrassed to feel this way so I've never told anyone. I thought I was the only one, so I'm relieved to know I'm not. Over a year ago I got a half sleeve that is a combo of two of my favorite childhood things (Wizard of Oz and Rainbow Brite), and it's a tattoo I've been thinking about for 10 years, so I figured there's no freakin' way I wouldn't love it. Right? I do love the tattoo, it's adorable and exactly what I wanted, but…I miss my inkless bare arm. Tattoos are awesome, but naked skin is beautiful too. I dunno… Certain outfits just look so differently on me now. I really like when the tattoo is fully showing (like when I wear sleeveless clothes) but it bugs me when it's only half covered by short sleeves. I want all or nothing, and that's impractical. Part of why I don't like it half showing is because the majority of the bottom half is green, so it's just too much green. When the top is showing too then there's more beautiful colors and I'm more proud of it and enjoy seeing it more. I don't regret it, and I do love it, but I feel like I should've gotten it somewhere less visible. I wouldn't ever consider tattoo removal because the skin will never look "normal" again, and I'd rather have art than what crappiness would be leftover after removal. Plus, I love it so why would I remove it anyways. I'm just really hoping that all these feelings will go away with time.

    As far as the attention it gets, I don't mind that at all. But I don't like people touching me. That's just rude and quite frankly creepy. At a wedding a couple weeks ago, some creepy dude came up to me and started giving me his opinion that he didn't like that I had put Rainbow Brite in Oz, as if I give a shit of his opinion. Then he told me I should have her elsewhere and proceeded to touch me to show me the other places. Like, my back, other arm, and chest (yes, CHEST! WTF dude?!).

    Anyhoot, I hope (for both of us) that it's just a matter of time for us to have it become such a part of who we are that we don't think twice about any of it.

    • I've *just* got a tattoo of two of MY favourite childhood things (Mary Poppins and Totoro). I was super excited about it but then the appointment kept getting post-poned and I developed an irrational fear of getting the tat. I have 9 tats and I really wanted this one so I decided to go ahead. It's only just healing now and it was a bit of a tricky heal – I'm still waiting to see what will need to be (and hopefully be ok to be) touched up. I do really love it though but I think I'm going through what everyone else has been saying – it's my first big, full colour so I am learning to embrace and love it.

  24. I have 9 tattoos, and all but one are very large and very colorful. Some of them are not particularly well done (although not terrible), and some of them are fairly well done and aesthetically pleasing. I got them between the ages of 18 and 22. I had decided I wanted to be A Tattooed Person. I was young and didn't think much beyond that, and I had the money and just went out and got them when the fancy struck me. Then I stopped getting tattoos because it just hasn't been in the cards, financially, and since then, I have come to regret my tattoos.

    I am a very private person, at least with people I am not close to, and I have realized I hate the attention it brings me. I never want to discuss the meanings of my tattoos with people standing in line at the grocery store or the bank or customers at work. And yet they always lift up my sleeve (or skirt!) and ask me about the personal meanings behind them. And then they want to give me their opinion on the design, the execution, and the meaning. Sometimes they are positive, but just as often they are not.

    I also regret them because honestly, I don't have the same interests that I used to. I wouldn't get the same things over again that I did when I was 18. And that's why I haven't gotten more – I don't know if what I want at 25 will be what I want at 35. I'm so impulsive, I just can't say if what I love right now will be what I love in 10 or 20 or 30 or 40 years.

    But…on the other hand…they are going to be there forever. There is no way I am getting 9 tattoos removed, and you know what…they're apart of me now. They are who I was, part of who I am, and there's nothing I can do to change it. I am sort of committed to tattoos now – I am A Tattooed Person, even though sometimes I would rather not be, maybe. So I am sure I will get more tattoos in the future, although they will have more thought put into what they are and where they go.

  25. I know how you feel. I am heavily tattooed (I'm talking sleeves, chest, face, neck, throat, palms) and now and then I get a bit jaded about my tattoos and wonder if they were worth it. Then I get a timely compliment on them and people fascinated by it and I get to make new friends because of it! And I browse pictures of stunning tattooed women and get inspired again. So, trust me, it will pass and it will come back, then pass again. It's always difficult to adjust to a permanent change.

    And if you do really get sick of it, you can do what I do. Some of mine look a bit disjointed and outdated, so I'm getting them covered up with something new! I agree that tattoo removal always comes off looking shoddy, so change it up if you really need to! Or just remember that it must have signified a very important point in your life, and is therefore a permanent reminder that change is a part of life.

    Good luck!

  26. I got a huge tattoo on my lower leg done by this artist that I loved for years when he finally visited Canada from Europe. I travelled alone 6 hrs to sit with him and we designed it together. Dream come true, right? For the first week, it felt so alien I could only look at it when I had to put cream on it. All other times I kept it covered with loose fitting yoga pants. It didn't even feel like my leg anymore! And for a month, I regretted it, hardcore. Not the tattoo but the way it made me feel completely detached from my body. I thought I'd never really accept the tattoo or something.Then about 6 weeks after I got it, I had a photo shoot planned. It was a sexy one with corsets and red high heels that matched the red in my tattoo. I took a bunch of shots and had the photog take a close up of my tat with the sexy shoe and suddenly, it wasn't just my leg with that tattoo on it, it was MY awesome, sexy beautiful tattooed leg! Ever since then, I have adored both my tattoo and everything about it. I can't imagine it not being a part of me. It was a weird experience, to feel that detachment, especially since it wasn't my first or even my first big tattoo. But you know what? Getting some sexy or fun or cute boudoir photos could get you to see you and the beautiful tattoo as one. And if not? Well, at least you have some sexy shots looking hot! 😉

  27. I -always- wanted to be covered in tattoos, right from when I was a kid, but I knew that I wanted to make sure they were what I wanted before I started covering myself.

    I didn't want to get anything meaningful, because I thought that if I took it too seriously, there was too much importance weighing on the meanings of them, and I'd rather my tattoos develop their own meaning.

    I broke that rule when my little sister died.
    I got a tattoo of a beautiful rainbow, copied from a picture she drew in coloured pencil, and it's the one tattoo I've been most critical of. No matter how many times I get it touched up, it wont be perfect, because it's not her drawing, and it's heartbreaking.

    I've got some amazing, beautiful tattoos since then, including a full sleeve of pirate-themed tattoos, and full-colour chest piece, and they all have come to represent me, but I'll never be content with the one tattoo that -actually- means something to me, and that's upsetting.

    But I guess that's what happens when you go into something with so many emotions attached.

    The only advice I have is to let your tattoos grow into the sort of thing you want adorning your body. As soon as you try and dictate the sort of meaning they should have, you'll ultimately be very critical of them….or something. <3

  28. I'm 43 years old and have exactly two tattoos. The first large piece on my right shoulder was designed by the man i consider "my first love." I got it when i was 23 and he and i are still friends despite the fact we never became long term partners. The second is a tattoo around my left ankle that i got after the birth of my son. It's a tattoo of the two of us with him as a baby in my arms.

    They both seem a bit out of place for me now and at the same time, they are so completely part of me that i wouldn't consider getting rid of them. They each mark two of the most significant events in my life: opening my heart to another and assuming the responsibility of parenting and caring for child. Both events changed me forever. There is a part of me that is actually appreciative that those changes are reflected on my body.

    I suppose it's really just an exercise in accepting our decisions. Some choices we make are so "right" they seamlessly integrate into our lives others require the ability to accept the consequences and move forward.

  29. I'm pretty sure it's normal to go through some time where a tattoo doesn't feel right. It's too permanent. It's not part of your mental picture of yourself. Kind of a bad combo of buyer's regret and discordance with one's self image, I guess.

    Anyway, I have a tiny tattoo of a lizard that covers up a scar (3D lizard!), and I felt that way for a little while, after getting over the initial joy of it. I never admitted it, because–well, you and the folks who commented before me covered that. But the feeling didn't last that long. It's been … whoa, more than five years… since I got it. And I love it. It's part of me.

    • Thank you Coral, that sums up how I feel. I'm 42 and got my first tattoo a few days ago after thinking about it for years and refining the design for many months. It's beai and well done but I feel weird as hell.

      So glad you love it now, I so want to love mine. The day it was done I was hyper pleased but as soon as I woke the following day I wondered what the hell I'd been thinking. As previous posters have said, at least it's beautiful.

      How long was the adjustment period?

  30. My third Tattoo is one that I used to regret. I got it when I was young and a close friend died terribly in an accident. I had sketched a pair of sky blue wings with the words you visit me in my dreams and a falling star (he used to come to me in my dreams to tell me it would be ok) I took it into a shop and the artist there insulted my artwork and made me feel like it wasn't very good. I did not let him tattoo me and went to a different shop where I asked the artist to draw it for me. I didn't have enough money to fill it in so for several years I had an outling of blue wings on my back with big masculine letters stating you visit me in my dreams. It was hideous to me but I hardly ever saw it except for pictures. After I got engaged I decided it was time to fic the wings I was sure everyone would be able to see at my wedding. I went to my artist (who did the last 5 or 6 of my other tats) and she took black and grey to the wings and blended in the words. I love my tattoo now. It's much more adult and I even though I regret not going with my own design I'm glad that I finally have a piece that I love.

  31. I think regret is okay. I don't think you have to love something 100% to be happy that it happened and content to keep it. We live in such a black and white culture… if you don't LOVE something you must HATE it. It's the expectation for jobs, relationships, body issues, living situations, every aspect of life if we feel any doubt about it then it's this total crisis. It's okay to feel doubt. It's okay to regret. You're sure you don't want to change it or get rid of it, so just live with the regret for a while. Maybe someday you'll love it, and maybe you never will, but either way that is totally okay.

    • Thank you for this. I just got a rather large piece added to an already growing piece on my back, and here I am awake at 3:30am not 100% happy with it. The tattoo is very pretty, it's just not what I was envisioning it would look like. I think most of my upsetness is directed at myself for not changing the drawing before it was tattooed on…but I thought about it for a year before getting it and the meaning of it will never be any less so I am working on getting comfortable with what it is. I do think I am going to go back to the artist this week to have him make a couple of minor adjustments (hopefully that will help). I just thought I would love it right away and I don't. You are right it doesn't have to be black and white. It is okay if it takes me a little time to fully appreciate my new work of art.

  32. These two pieces of advice from higher up in the thread: "the less time you gave yourself to get used to the idea of a particular tat before getting it, the longer the adjustment period is." and "I've also been visualizing my arm, telling myself "soon this will be tattooed", and I can't help but look forward to the day." are absolutely so helpful. I just got my first tattoo less than a week ago. I can't tell you how many people were "impressed" that I had the lady-balls to go so big for my first time (it goes from my left shoulder to the end of my lower back, so basically the entire left side of my back), asking me if I was sure I wouldn't regret it. I definitely went through stages of doubt before getting the tattoo, but that's one reason I gave myself four years to think about the design I wanted. My grade school gym teacher told us if we wanted a tattoo, to pick our design and put it up on our bathroom mirror for a year before we decide to get it, because if you can't look at it every day and still love it for just a year, you shouldn't ink it on your body for the rest of your life. One of the wisest teachers I've ever had, because her advice helped me avoid getting a design I thought I wanted at 19. Once I settled on my tattoo, I kept the image of my design in mind until I had graduated college and was in a position to pay for the piece myself. I also spent the weeks leading up to the tattoo looking at my skin and thinking "this will never look the same again." Did the same thing with my belly button before I got it pierced. When I finally sat down in my artist's chair, the only nerves I had were from hoping I would be able to sit well for her, as I didn't know what to expect on the pain scale (for the record, I sat great, even my artist was impressed with how easy I was which made me feel like a badass). In the end, I'm so happy I waited for the right time in my life to get this done. I feel like because I spent enough time thinking about my tattoo, having something designed with personal meaning, and visualizing it being on my body, I will never regret it. I'm the kind of person who hasn't changed her haircut in years, so I needed that mental preparation time to nullify the post-tattoo freakout I would have otherwise had.

  33. I found this so interesting. I have three tattoos and I have never experienced what you're talking about. Thinking about it, I think it's partly because my tattoos are not that visible to me, and partly because I have a lot of scars, so my skin has not been "virgin" skin for years and years, and I'm pretty used to that. I guess if I could get rid of something, it would be the scars.

  34. As someone who doesn't have a tattoo I thought this was really interesting.

    I've got three major tattoos planned out that I've wanted for…. well the youngest of them I've wanted for seven years now. I have a Harry Potter tat planned that I thought would be my first (I drew it up when I was 13 and although I've tweaked the design a little I still want it and plan to get it as soon as I get the color scheme to something I like- I used to like only solid black tattoos but I realized after a time that I LOVE blue on and near my skin and I actually really love color in general but I'm not super bold and I think my tattoos should reflect that… so subtle colors and what not are my ideal. ) Secondly, I've got a lacy watercolor/pastel/white ink sleeve planned out that is a mis-mash of things I love and that are important to me (centermost being a cat).

    Lastly, I've got a left-chest piece planned which very well may possibly be my first this Christmas (happy slightly late birthday and merry Christmas to meeeeeee) if my chosen tattoo artist doesn't have his building burn down or he moves again. This planned tat is actually the "youngest" of my planned tattoos- it's a pastel blue/purple design of the Star Trek com badge insignia with the Vulcan symbol behind it and instead of science officer or command it's a lovely lilac Thundercats symbol. I'm in love with the design, but….. this is usually where I can't go through. With all the times I've done the "pre-tat" tests where I've had it stained or printed on my skin I've adored the results. my eyes were drawn to the art and I would smile and brush it with my fingertips. Nonetheless, there is a nagging fear in my mind that whispers, "what if you don't like this when it's permanent? You scar so easy, and removal isn't easy- it can't be washed away like this can." This thought and the fear of making an ass of myself if my pain tolerance isn't very high makes me reconsider and eventually back down. (Well… that and the "well what if I loose weight" thought.)

    I've still got a couple tattoos that I've recently started planning. My husband is an Aquarius, and I am planning on getting a lacy white or just soft pastel koi fish with a heart through it on our fifth anniversary. (**I know people say not to get tattoos based on relationships -even my heavily tattooed sister- but…. it's my way of documenting my life and something that even if feelings change later- right now we've lived three amazing and happy married years together and I want a memento of this part of my life to be honest.) I recently decided to plan five small very delicate and difficult-to-even-think-of-the-circumstances tattoos. I'm not sure of the placement yet but I plan on a small unicorn for my mother, a young dragon for my baby sister, a couple of dinosaurs quoting firefly for my brother, a frog in a tophat for my adopted sister, and lastly …. I'm actually not sure what to o for my father. I was thinking maybe a bigger dragon breathing fire and protecting the unicorn and younger dragon (he's a passionate firefighter/firelover so something with fire makes sense but I'm not keen on having a firetruck on me) but… not sure yet. Anyhow…. each one of those will be sketch out and saved…. I plan on only getting them in the even that one of those family members pass away. I want to have them close to me and with me always and I know that people will pass on eventually, so I began planning these small mementos that remind me of my loved ones when my mother got breast cancer.

    I know this post is now mostly about my planned tattoos, but I think what I was coming around to say in the end -yes it took me forever to get here- is that even though I'm scared now and might indeed have trouble adjusting to a permanent change to my body these things that I'm planning (and I'm sure will eventually have) mean something to me right now enough that I think I want them on my body for the rest of my life. These people, these meanings, these emotions or events mean something to me. In the end, If I don't love the look…. I think that's ok- because it's the meaning behind it that really matters to me. I know not all tattoos are important meanings or super thought out and I think that's important too- because something we get on a whim can be just as loved or be a beacon of our strength during a difficult time in our life as a tattoo thought out and planned for. I think that when I get my tattoo… well if I have a time where I feel unsure about it will sit down and realy think about it and look at it. Admire it as if it was new. Look at each line and think of why I got it and where I was in my life. I think that the artist in me will love to sit down and just enjoy tracing the lines with my eyes- hell, if I get bored I can break out some markers or chalks and just mess around with it till I feel better.

    I verily hope I came out somewhat comprehensible through this jumble of words. (Thank you cold medicine for making me feel like I'm swimming through not-so-great-thinky-soup. ) ^^ I look forward to being part of the tattoo crowd someday and to quote some dude somewhere, "this too shall pass." 🙂

  35. You could try to wear it not as a secret statement and something to hide, but as an accessory. A tattoo especially on a clearly visible spot has to be not only an emotional, but also a fashion statement. Wear colour complementary tops and jewellery, dress up that hair! You will have to live with it, so make it your strength.

  36. I didn't read all the comments, but I know exactly how you feel. I realized that it was actually (in my own personal opinion) that it was my brain not registering what it is, and after that initial "omg i got my tattoo so cool" etc etc etc, I went into "OMG WHAT IS THAT THING ON MY BODY?! WHY IS IT SO BIG WHY IS IT SO DARK?! OMG OMG OMG"!!!! I freaked…and I didn't look at it for about a year. After a year and some change I'm totally fine with my tattoo. It has a memory, it tells a story, and it's a permanent reminder of a moment in my life. My tattoo is now a part of me…where before, it was a 'thing'. It just took part of my brain a little bit longer to catch up with everything else. You'll be ok, just give yourself some time to let your brain catch up… 🙂

  37. I just got my fist color and most visible tattoo the other day, it's my 6th tattoo and I've wanted it for god knows how long, I was supper excited when I was getting it and never once thought "what am I doing" but ever since I got it I just felt like I shouldn't of gotten it, I keep thinking that it will ruin my future job opportunities, that people will judge me, that it doesn't look good where I got it, I feel like I'm going crazy! It is beautiful and well done, I want to love it, I hate that I don't, I've never felt this way when it came to my other tattoos. Seeing that other people have gone through this does help, but I just hope I can get over this and love my tattoo.

  38. I have no idea what you're feeling, and really just wanted to offer up another opinion. I have full sleeves and visible tattoos on my chest and ankles and really that's besides the point. I have very visible and large tattoos, and I have not regretted them ever. Maybe it's because I never got tattooed outside of a clean and reputable tattoo shop, and I went to professional artists, and really researched everything about tattoos in different cultures, but I really just can't understand regretting getting them. I knew I wanted them when I was 9, and was made to watch TLC's "tattoos gone wrong" shows or whatever (I often said I'd get my first one done with a BIC pen and old radio, a la prison tatoos [never did]). Even my shittiest tattoo is still great by most people's standards, even though I see the flaws. I guess I would just say that if this is your biggest regret in life, than I think you're living a great life. If you have issues with cutting your hair, I'd suggest not getting visible tattoos, or not getting tattoos at all. You certainly wouldn't be seen as a bad person for not getting any more. It is your body after all, and you have to live with it 24-7, so you are the only person who gets to decide what you want it to look like.

  39. Your post could not have come at a better time! I am so glad I read it and also glad I took the time to read every single comment from everyone else. I have gotten a few more aspects and views now. I am currently not tattooed at the moment but I have an appt in December for my first tattoo (I have basically 20 days left). It will be my first piece and a BIG piece at that. I am getting a long quote down my rib cage (I know rib cage for first tattoo HOLY COW) Go big or go home right? I am scared and nervous. Not so much for the pain but for the FEAR of TATTOO REGRET. I am scared that my boyfriend/fiancé is going to pay for it and we get home and I am going to look in the mirror and just freak out and break down and cry and regret it. It is such a huge, dramatic, permanent change. I know I will have to get use to it but what if that day never comes? What if my boyfriend/fiancé secretly hates/dislikes it deep down when he is telling me he likes it (He hates tattoo's he wont ever get one and think's they are not that attractive) I bet you are wondering then why is he paying his girlfriends/fiancés tattoo to "mutilate" herself. It is because he says he wants me to have what I want (which is sweet) and that he actually likes my design and know's I have been wanting this for years now. I am 22 currently and this quote is MY philosophy on love. I have loved this quote since I was in middle school. "If the people we love are stolen from us, the way to have them live on its to never stop loving them. Buildings burn, people die, but real love is forever." (From the film The Crow). I know I am rambling on and on and not really giving much advice on tattoo regret but I feel as though I am venting and hopefully someone will read this and be in the same boat as me and not feel "alone" when it comes to this feeling.
    I am now wondering if I should get a different quote that is "fresher" and "newer" on my philosophy for love that is also smaller/shorter so maybe I wont freak out as much? I don't know what to do. On top of all of this I want to do a little modeling and a lot of acting on film, I am hoping this does not affect my acting career.
    I don't know….I guess I am just hoping that if everyone goes through Tattoo Regret that then it will be a phase. If I do get it and it wont go away I will just keep reminding myself that it is in a time in my life. And that it is a part of me, and that it is a love based quote/tattoo from a man that I love and that I will never ultimately regret it years down the road.

    • I am in a very similar situation -my appointment for my first tattoo is a few weeks away & my initial excitement has quickly changed to fear. Not of the actual process, but fear that I will regret it down the road. I’m getting something personal as well -an outline of my home state on my shoulder fading into tree roots. I know that I will never regret this completely, in the way you’d regret getting a name of an ex tattooed. I’ll always be from my home state, those will always be my roots. What is there to regret? Similar to BellDVone and other posts I’ve read, a lot of my worry comes from the possible perceptions of others. There is a stigma attached to tattoos, and although I think they’re unique & creative ways of self expression, I can’t help but worry about what others may think -let’s say 20 years down the road, when I’m wearing a sleeveless shirt to take my kids to school, or dress at a formal event.

      In thinking about this fear of judgement & reading the posts… I’ve had a moment of self-revelation: I’m getting this tattoo for ME. The idea came to ME, and it’s something I wanted to do for myself. It’s extremely personal, and has deep meaning to me. That being said, it will never gain the approval of everyone surrounding me, especially strangers who don’t know me. Why would I let this stop me from expressing myself?

      Even if down the road, I may not have chosen the same placement or size, I think I will always be proud of my decision to go for it and not let the fear of judgement stop me from being myself! It will serve as a great reminder of my strength & ability to stand up to my own fears. When I’m wrinkled and 70, I would rather be at ease knowing that I went for it and took a chance, than regretting not taking this leap and letting fear stop me.

      Reading this thread has been extremely helpful in solidifying my decision to go for it. Plus -for every look of doubt you may receive, will be a look of admiration from someone who thinks your tattoo is “badass.”

      Life is sinply too short to worry about the “what if’s” so go for it, embrace your new bodies & the self evolving that they represent!

  40. I am LOVING this thread. Thank you for starting the conversation.

    I got an 11:11 tattoo under my collarbone when I was 18. My best friend and I had stayed up all night being ridiculous, and on a whim the next day decided to get our first tattoos. Now, at least 8/10 people ask me what 11:11 means (my personal interpretation is making a wish at 11:11) and sometimes I feel stupid about it, especially when I get strange looks or people say things like "I guess I don't get it…" I'm 25 now and while a part of me regrets getting something so permanent on an impulse, I love remembering that night and my young adulthood so fondly. Generally if I get strange looks I can just say, "Oh, you know, I was 18," but ultimately it has become a part of me. I even have old friends who end up thinking of me when they happen to catch the time 11:11, which is flattering; being associated with making wishes can feel so whimsical.

    I also have a tattoo of a bunch of jasmine flowers in black ink on my back left shoulder blade. This was another impulse tattoo, which I got while I was volunteering abroad in Sri Lanka. Since I was constantly sweating and exposed to sun I wasn't able to take care of it like I would a tattoo at home. Now the ink is a little thicker and bled out than I would have preferred, and for a while I thought it was an ugly mistake. I've ultimately grown to love it though, and its a reminder of my ability to still be spontaneous, adventurous, and is a souvenir of the best trip of my life.

    I have more tattoos that I have been proud of since the beginning. I think that overall what has helped me accept and finally love some of my less-than-stellar ink is associating them with the memories and/or feelings that surround them. I mean, in the end these pieces are for me, and a result of decisions made by me. I think falling in love with my tattoos was a way for me to continue loving myself, even when I am being impulsive, spontaneous, or careless.

    I think that you already deciding that you don't want to get rid of your piece is you learning to accept and love it, and I think that first step is a powerful one. I agree that the unwanted attention can be cumbersome, but if it helps, I would try to think of it is an invitation to remember why you got the tattoo and to think of your parents and why you wanted to get this piece for them.

  41. I just have one small tattoo. I got it when I was 18 — definitely a growing up thing. I loved it for years, but for the last year or two, I've just been 'meh' about it. I've even considered having it removed.

    I went to a dermatologist who does that work — but mostly to ask him about laser treatments for the capillary breaks on my face. I have about 5-6 that could do with being zapped. He looked at them, and thought that two treatments would do ($160 — so affordable). Then, as an afterthought, I asked about my tattoo. He had a look at it, and being red-and-black and very faded, he suggested that it would probably be 2-3 treatments if I wanted rid of it, and basically the same procedure. And yes, it stings.

    He was a very nice guy, but recommended not doing anything with the tattoo until I was sure. He figured that it wasn't really bothering me, there was no pressing reason to remove it, and I do more or less like it. And, like the previous poster, it does remind me of my younger self. And it's always hidden. I hardly think about it, really. So, it stays for now. 🙂

  42. tHey petal i got my wrist tattooed ,of a bird on a branch at the end of October ,and am still having issues,but my third month now and feel better.i so wanted nearly to dig it out,as it turned out way bigger than i wanted 🙂 I'm 45,and had tattoo when i was 35,special maybe another .at 55. They should tell people aboutthe hand ,arm,and wrist tattoos,as they hard to adjust to,and a temp one first would be a better option,i wished i had done that first,never mind i can't afford laser so i have to learn to luv an arranged marriage.

  43. I have a lot of tattoos. Full sleeves, large upper back piece, both calves, one thigh, and couple scattered small ones. So far. I'm 42 and the majority of my tattoos have been done in the last 4 years after major weight loss. I've always wanted tattoos but I'm sometimes surprised at the direction I've taken it. There was a time when my sleeves were half done, I started with my forearms, that I thought, what the he'll have I done? Once they were more complete I felt better. I don't regret them. I don't worry about getting old. I sometimes feel its better to stay covered in some instances. I ask if I am I representing someone else what they would prefer. As an ordained minister and a bridesmaid I have been encouraged to be myself. I am still sometimes surprised to find out just who myself is.

  44. I have a suggestion! You mentioned that you other body image issues as well as disliking (or being uncomfortable with) your tattoo. You should look into getting a glamour or boudoir photography shoot done! Sometimes it can be hard to step back from your own negativity to see how beautiful you really are (including your tattoo), but having a really smashing photograph of yourself can give you a physical reminder that you are a gorgeous bad-ass who is totally owing her life right now.
    Even if you don't feel that way now, just having gone and done something a little out of your comfort zone (professional makeup?? showing skin in front of strangers????) can give you a little courage for other stuff in life, like blowing off those creepy guys who think a tattoo is an open invitation to hit on you.
    Professional photographers who do this type of photo will let you bring a friend (or two) if you're nervous and won't post your photo all over the place with out your permission. Many of them have pro makeup artists working with them as well.
    I haven't worked with her, but I have seen AWESOME stuff by Bernadette Newberry (in the Cincinnati Ohio area)
    Seriously, look how good they look!

    Specifically on the tattoo side, I also have an absolutely gorgeous tattoo but sometimes I do wish I had plain old naked skin there. I don't think its the tattoo specifically, but the whole "WHAT HAVE I DONE TO MYSELF??" thought process. On those occasions I just try to remember, yes, I wanted this tattoo. Yes, it is beautiful. Yes, I trust my decisions and this was the right one. And yes, everything is going to be okay (but maybe not right this second).

  45. I feel Exactly the same, last year i got a huge tatoo of a cross on my back, it covers part of my shoulders.When my mother first saw it, she made a huge deal, I even ended up going to see a therapist.. My mum is very religious, and it really bothers her, because is a cross. However, I have 5 tattoos and she doesn't mind them, just the cross. Since my mothers disliked, I started to hate it, and Receive a lot of bad comments, but my girlfriends love it . I have seen a doctor in order to remove it, she said there was no point because I am black and it's almost impossible to remove it.. I am super sad, and I don't know what to do., sometimes I say fuck people, sorry for the language.. And others it really does bother me ..

  46. I had this exact same thing last year. I got a mahoosive tattoo on my thigh – I'd thought about it for months and months, picked my favourite artist, deliberated over it for ages and gone over the design until I was totally happy with it – and yet after it was done, one unkind word from my parents about it made me go into a full-on freakout! But it will get easier with time to accept it, and you'll remember why you loved it, and it will look wonderful. You'll be fine. Don't even think about removing it or covering it up – at least not yet! Enjoy it – and you sound smart and mature enough that you won't regret it in your later years 🙂 I wrote a whole thing about my tattoo doubt in more detail here ( ), but honestly – don't worry.
    Tattoo removal is for tattoos of crappy little bulldogs in flatcaps, not big beautiful pieces of art.

  47. I understand u because I just got a big piece which I love but I was kind of having problems accepting it. I have 5 tats but they are small and having this one a lil bit bigger kind of made me (not regret it) but I really wasnt expecting to be that big . Now im making peace with it,, I really love it, is very special to me. Is normal to feel like that at first. Embrace its beauty, get more and be happy =)

  48. This made me feel so much better about the situation I am in. I got a tattoo a few days ago, that I was in love with and planned out for a long time. I even loved it right after..but then I started feeling huge regret the next day and feel like it doesn't belong on my body. I know it may just be the shock of seeing it…it's a lot bigger than my other two tattoos and colored and on my shoulder blade so not easily hidden (although easier than some spots). I am hoping that this feeling will fade and I'll end up feeling great about it, but right now I can't help but feel like I made a stupid mistake that I will end up paying for by undergoing removal.

    I was wondering if you have had any changes in the way you feel about yours now that it's been a few more months? I hope, whatever has happened, it is working out for you! Thanks again for your story.

    • Hi there. Reading your post mirrors my own situation. I had a tattoo on the front of my right shoulder a couple of days ago. A lot of research, thought and planning went into the tattoo and it is meaningful for me. The artist is fantastic and she has executed it brilliantly and on first sight, I loved it. Three days later and I can't eat or sleep. I'm too afraid to show people and I'm furious with myself for getting it! Friends and family have been kind about it as it is a beautiful piece but colleagues have been extremely negative!

      I see you wrote your post in March – have your feelings towards your tattoo changed?

  49. Thank you for this article it is very reassuring. I got a tattoo recently and it was something I wanted for a long time. I waited till I was 25, did my homework, looked at artists, and went to shops. I did two consultations with the guy I got mine from just to make sure that it was what I wanted before I got it. I probably won't go back to the same shop (it was a little dirtier in the back then up front) but I still appreciate his work.

    There were a few differences in the tattoo that threw me off at first. More shading than I would have liked, etc. But my first though upon seeing it was "This looks right" and I'm sticking with that. It just feels weird to have something that feels right and wrong at the same time, but that isn't something I am unfamiliar with. There are lots of people with body issues, and dysphoria even stronger than that. But learning to like parts of you is all a part of the game I feel.

    I would say my view is flipped. I feel fine so long as I can see the tattoo, but when I cover it and I know it is there I start disliking it. But it's good to hear your words about this.

  50. I know how you feel i'm feeling exactly same way my tattoo is beaudifull i love it and hate it at the same time really strange feeling tho

  51. Thanks so much for this post! I have really enjoyed reading all the comments. I have 2 small tattoos (hip and ankle) that I got 12 and 20 years ago – I am 39 now. I have always wanted more ink. I found an amazing artist and wanted to go for a color marilyn pin-up style tattoo on my upper arm. I have it in my head that I want some ink that is visible. I don't even think about my other tattoos because I rarely see them. I wanted something that I can show off to myself and others. So picture this – I am literally in the chair with the stencial on my arm and he is about to start tattooing and I freak out. Went into the washroom for 10 minutes afraid to come out and tell him I couldn't go through with it.

    Humilating experience to say the least but I am thankful I stopped myself. It was just bigger than I had expected and now that I had some more time to look at the changes he had made to the design – there were a couple things that I will change. I know I would have been filled with regret if I had gone through with it. So it has been a week and I have fixed up the design but now I am wondering if I am ready for something that is going to take up my entire upper arm. He won't go smaller because it will lose too much detail so I need to really picture how I will look with such a big tattoo.

    • Thought I would update this as it is now 8 months later. Still glad that I didn't go through with the large tattoo. I posted a photo of the design on my mirror and I have looked at it every day since then. Still love it but the size and placement I would have regretted. I decided to go with baby steps. I am planning to get a quote tattooed this summer horizontally on my inner forearm as my visible tattoo. Hopefully, that will suffice my need to be able to show off a tattoo to others and myself. I'm too ashamed to go back to the same tattoo shop in case I run into the artist I baled on though 🙂

  52. Kind of know the feeling. As for me, I just got a new big tattoo on my upper leg. It takes almost half of my thigh (from the knee). It is something very representative of me, very beautiful and realistic. I love it and at the same time I hate it. I hate it when I look at myself in the mirror with a short skirt or dress and only see the bottom of it (like a big black stripe). However, when I look a it, I am amazed by the work and the talent of the artist. It is a very beautiful tattoo, but it feels like tattoos doesn't fit on me, like I am to delicate to be the tattooed girl type. I never realized it's gonna be that big and it is not even finished yet. I don't know if I really want to finish it because it is gonna be bigger at the end. I am feeling so confused, I was so happy about it the first couple of hours then the day after I was crying my life and wanna to go back to my nice blank thigh. I even thought about waiting a couple of months and getting it removed by laser. It is my second medium/large size tattoo that I have days with regret and days with happiness. I am addicted to tattoos, I couldn't stop. I like the whole process of searching for ideas, spending time with the artist, and the first hours of the job done. And then, it is like I would like to erase it and start over. I feel really weird right now, but this is how I feel, I feel "somehow" that getting tattooed ease my pain and then regret, regret, regret. Hope I am not the only one like this lol.

    • I feel EXACTLY the same way.
      I have already 4 tattoos. Before 3 days I got a bigger one.
      Bigger than the other 4. It's on my shoulder so I'm seeing all the time.. and it's bigger than I expected it to be.
      I really like it and love it. It means a lot for me too, but somehow I regret it and wish I could go back.
      I feel like it doesn't suit me. Or that it should be on someone else.
      I kind of miss my pale shoulder. I wanted that tattoo for 5 years so I'm not sure why I regret it. I just think that it would be better if it was somewhere else and not in my shoulder and I can't help but think "THIS IS GONNA BE THERE FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE"
      someone said that this tattoo should be on a male. I'm a girl so it made me more upset about it, but I know that I can't go back now. and I'm thinking of putting around some flowers or a butterfly. Something to help it look more feminish. I'm almost sure that I will end up with a sleeve.. and i will miss my lovely pale hand to be honest, but hey.. I always have one more hand! I can have one without anything on it and one full with pieces of art!

  53. I understand this feeling. I have two tattoos, one small and one large. Both are really meaningful and beautiful and suit me well. For me, it's less of a feeling of actual regret, and more of a feeling of "this doesn't quite seem right today."

    I have a blue star on my inner wrist that was an awesome concert hand stamp made permanent. It's such an important mark for me, a concert that I feel I'd waited a lifetime for and meant the world to me. And the tattoo looks great on its own too. I'm really grateful to have it. Yet, I'm not always the concert hand-stamp tattoo girl, you know? Sometimes, a blue star on my wrist feels juvenile or just doesn't match my outfit or my mood.

    My neck tattoo is a large feather quill hippie-feeling thing. It's new and I am really pleased with the artwork. The weird thing about that tattoo is that other people get to see it more than I do. So for that one, I keep a picture of it in my phone. I need to be reassured from time to time that the shading isn't actually too dark and the lettering is legible, etc. I'd have to use two mirrors to see it otherwise. Perhaps carrying a photo of yours around with you will give you the perspective you're looking for?

    I hear you on the unwanted attention thing. I've always had physical aspects (like wild curly hair) that have attracted more attention than I'd like. And now I have twins. I was wildly unprepared for the amount of attention I have to deal with daily surrounding them. My husband said after a recent family vacation that he knows what it's like to be mildly famous. He was entirely serious. I've thought about really crazy short hair recently or sleeve tattoos and the attention aspect is sort of what keeps me from doing those things. In fact, I usually wear grey/black exclusively to minimize how visible I am. But I am getting used to it and trying to accept the fact that people desperately want to connect and often just don't realize that the way they're doing it ranges from annoying to inappropriate. And in fact, I've used tattoos as a way to start conversations with people when I'm feeling lost at a party or something. It's a good way to understand a person really well really quickly, but I think you have to choose the right environment. Like, starting a conversation with a lone stranger in an intimate setting (not TOUCHING them) is probably welcome, while grabbing someone's arm at the supermarket and rudely interrupting their task is so, so not okay.

  54. So I got a tattoo done yesterday and I'm freaking out. It's not even 24 hours later. The whole experience was just shit, my tattoer wasn't nice or comforting me at all, he was just a huge dickhead and added/changed some things on my mandala which I didn't want. It just looked better on my drawing. Everybody around me tells it's gorgeous, like literally everybody is like wow thats so pretty blabla, I don't want to feel this way, I want to love it but it's just so big and doesn't feel like me. I didn't think I would feel this way this fast. I thought maybe after 10 years, but the second I looked in the mirror after I got it done I realized I didn't love it. And I was just standing there and I wished I could hug the tattoer but I was just staring into the mirror thinking wtf did I just do.

    The meaning of it is very important to me because I have always been a person who took way too much shit from guys in relationships and always looked down on myself. Over the past 5/6 years my self esteem was non existend and I got really down and depressed and just didn't know what to do with myself. I designed this mandala and wanted it as a way to show myself that I got out of that and that I feel more confident now. But the fact that I don't like my tattoo is just shitting all over this and I just want to crawl up in a ball and cry 🙁 I don't know what to do.

    • I feel your pain Ashley. I had a new tattoo a few days ago and regret it totally. A lot of thought, research and planning went into it and I chose an excellent artist who I have had previous tattoos with!

      The tattoo itself is faultless, pretty and everything I asked for but it's too big, I don't like the placement and I don't think it suits me! Friends and family have been complimentary but colleagues less so!

      I can't eat or sleep and I spontaneously panic and get upset! I cried all day today and have never felt so low! Reading this thread helped lots and I'm praying the regret will pass and I learn to love/accept my tattoo! I feel your pain – you're not alone xxxx

      • Hi Sian! I feel exactly the same way you did a few months ago. I love my tattoo (it's my first one) and I love the design, but feel like the placement (side of my lower arm) is wrong and it's huge. It feels wrong and it feels like a huge mistake. One day I love it and I feel bad*ss the next day I wish I could hop into a time machine and get rid of it cos I hate it so much. I've had it for just under a week now. Do you still feel the same about it further down the line and have you adjusted? My bf says it's just my mind and brain getting used to this thing on me and that it'll come with time and not to make any rash decisions. Lots of people like it (it's a dotwork of my cat sitting in a moon), but then they're friends so they will say that. It'd be great to know how you and other people feel later on. Thanks!

        • Hi Caroline, I know exactly what you’re going through and it does get easier honestly. I can only describe the first couple of weeks after my tattoo as utter devastation at what I had done to myself. I cried constantly and hardly left the house. It’s over four months since I had the tattoo and I still have daily pangs of regret but they’re not as bad as they were and I am very slowly coming to terms with it.

          At first I was so desperate I thought I'd add more tattoos to the area so it wouldn’t look so random on its own but I worried I’d regret those even more so decided to give myself a year to try to get used to it! I’ve changed the way I dress now and pick clothes that either cover it completely or compliment it (it’s on my chest above my right breast). My low-cut, cleavage exposing days are long gone but I’m in my mid-thirties and not getting any younger so that’s not a huge issue. I certainly plan on getting more tattoos in other areas and perhaps as I become a more heavily inked person, I’ll worry less about that particular tattoo.

          It helps to speak to your tattoo artist too. I explained to mine that I was having regrets and it was nothing to do with her work and she made me feel a little more at ease. Check out a website called Real Self where people go through laser removal and share their experiences. That certainly made me feel better as it made me realise my tattoo is beautiful compared to some horror stories out there.

          It’s my biggest ever regret and probably always will be but I’m okay and you will be too. Trust me xx

          • Oh Sian! Thanks so much for replying! I cannot tell you how much better you have made me feel already!! It's funny really how similar my situation is to yours, I am also in my mid-thirties and thought I had figured it all out, no regrets, I was doing it for me and no one else bla bla! I couldn't even have breakfast this morning and cried in the car! I never do that ever. I am really glad that you feel better now and that it got easier for you. It fills me with some hope 🙂 And thanks for the advice to look at the removal site. I started thinking about it last night (no sleep!) but then thought would I rather have a scar than a really rather cute and artistic tattoo. I was thinking of adding to it too but will give it a considerable time before deciding on that. Again thank you so much for replying. It's made me feel tons better xxx

          • You’re very welcome 🙂

            I have never considered laser removal on this tattoo because it is quite large with dense blocks of colour. I have lasered three old tattoos recently but progress was slow so I gave up on complete removal and covered them with lovelier tattoos instead. Give yourself time before making any major decisions.

            I hope you feel better about it soon Caroline. I’m sure you will. Drop me a message if you’re having a crappy day – I’ll always reply xx

          • Hey I've been in a similar boat. I had my first tattoo last month but it's quite big and visible (half sleeve). My initial reaction was I loved it then I woke up that night feeling like a total idiot. I'd planned for ages and wanted it for many many years so was shocked at my own reaction. I'm glad to say most days now I love it. if I'm having a non love day I wear sleeves so it's not top of mind. I'm so 'better' about it now I'm thinking about adding more to it. I hope you get happy with it. I bet it's audacious

          • Hi Rach! You put it exactly right "shocked at my own reaction". I am starting to think that's all it is and nothing to do with the tattoo itself. Like you said, love it one day then next day feel like a 12 year old who's done something totally stupid! After reading the comments here and talking to Sian yesterday, I have to say that I feel so much better and am already happier with it. Actually I'm starting to be quite proud of it 🙂 Thanks ladies, you are brilliant – so glad I found this place!! xxx

          • Thank you Caroline. It's nice to feel others feel similarly. I'd love to see everyone's work. I'm happy to start this particular ball rolling. @MrsMooville on Instagram

  55. I used to think I'd never do it, but lately I've been seeing such wonderful pictures of some tattoos and it makes me think maybe it wouldn't be such a terrible idea. Problem is I've seen so many cute/wonderful ones, I'd never be able to choose, because I'd likely get one or two and wouldn't want to be covered in them! Another problem-I'm afraid of needles, so I don't know if I'd be able to get over that fear! Such a good read! Thank you!

  56. Really nice to read all these comments.
    Myself I recently got a diamond tattoo on the of my wrist. Quite visible after all. I notice people staring at it. Even my boyfriend, since it's new for him too.
    Anyway, once I got my diamond tattoo I instantly started thinking to get something on my left inner forearm.
    In a way, I like it to people noticing my ink and to some others I even hide my actual tattoo. Because I guess I know they are not pro-tattoo.
    I still have the idea to get a second tattoo. But somewhere I don't know if I'd to go for something bigger and so visible.
    I even have in mind to get a small sword tattoo on the back of my neck. That idea seems to be more ok to me than the floral I want on my forearm.
    I'd like to wait for the floral but I also want it now. I just seem not to dare to go for it even though I do want it. Since it will be there forever…
    Also, most people here mention about their tattoos which have a meaning to them. My actual tatt and the ones I want do mean anything to me. No particular reason for getting them except I want them as a decorative way. As like body adornment like wearing jewelry.

  57. im glad i found this sight i have two tattoos, u dont see them unless im in a bathing suit , so most friends and family havnt seen them. ive been contemplating getting a half sleeve ? i love and get excited when i see it on others, but im nervous since its really fully out there for me and others to comment on and voice an opinion well at least from family that will be on the negative side. i do what makes me feel good ,so i would prob tell them it is what it is! but what if i have the doubt the others have on this sight ? it will be seen no matter what i wear!!

  58. Sounds like inadequate time was spent thinking through everything and I mean this kindly. By everything I am talking about visualising your sleeve while in different scenarios and imagine the impact. People usuallly wait until 6 months or more to see if they still like the design enough to to be tattooed permanently. Me, I've known since being a teen I am getting sleeves, I never told anybody else because they are for me and because their opinion was of no consequence. 30 years later after raising a family I was just as enthusiastic and determined about the same theme, so when done there were no regrets, plus no regrets since.

    There is a possibility you have an indecisive character, can you easily decide what you're doing from day to day? If you are often changing your mind you have your answer right there, and I would just think during moments of doubts that "I'm just being indecisive as usual and if the sleeve was not done I would be wanting it done, regretting having not done it insted of having done it."

    My experience with tattoo regret is that people wish they thought through the design more and got what they would love for the rest of their life instead of just loving it at that the moment of the tattoo being done. Tattoos with months of thought and planning are rarely regretted.

    The other reason people regret a tattoo is because somebody at some point has said they don't like it. People with tattoos don't care waht people think of them before they even get them done. They are hardened to the criticism, eye-rolling, judgements about their choices and so on. Judgemental people say crap about others to make themselves feel better, if it wasn't the tattoo it would be something else about you they don't like. Dislike their rudeness and inadequacies rather than your rightful choices.

  59. Thankyou for posting this!
    I haven't read everyone's comments, but-
    I've wanted the same tattoo for over ten years, and I still can't commit to it because I'm so worried how I will feel once it's on my skin, but I still desperately want to have it tattooed…
    I've got one small tattoo with nowhere near as much thought being put into it (a few months), and did wonder why the hell I had done it for a while a couple of months after it was tattooed, even though it's tattooed in a spot you wouldn't easily see.
    I can recognise now that part of this was due to other peoples opinions, and having to explain it. I genuinely don't think I am a body conscience person, but I don't like the idea of being questioned over something that will be a part of my body, and having some kind of expectation that I will explain my body to others (I know that I don't need to explain my body to anyone, but if we're honest, people do -somewhat understandably – think it's okay to ask about visible tattoos, and it is a bit awkward to just refuse to answer). I think that is a large part of my ongoing hesitation.
    Anyway, that's my two cents and I'm glad to know that other people have experienced this 🙂

  60. Omgh, I read this and I regret so much that I didn't research more about the whole tattoo regretting thing – before I did mine, I just focused on beautiful pictures on Pinterest and worked on what I wanted to get tattooed and where which now seems so stupid to me.
    I've decided on what I wanted for over 4 years ago and I've decided on the font and placing (or at least I thought I did). I was gonna get the one wotd (My dog's name) tattooed on the outside of my lower arm – from the wrist up, in a beautiful and thin font which made the beginning of the first letter look like a half-infinty sign and also the first letter of my husbabds name – delending on how you look at it. A meaningful tattoo indeed, I thought there was no way I'm gonna regret it.
    For my 30th birthday earlier this month, my husband decided to buy me a tattoo gift voucher. I was happy with the gift but from there, everything is a blur and so unlike me. We went three days after my birthday to meet the artist and after I showed him the text and design he printed out the word in various sizes and asked me what size I wanted. When I showed him, he said that there was no way that he'll be doing the tattoo that small in that font – either I change the font or we have to make it bigger because if we do it in the size that I wanted it, it will be a dark blur in a couple of years. Everyone told me to listen to the artist because he knows what he is talking about, so we settled on the size that was significantly bigger than I pictured it. We arranged the session in a weeks time and I went home with the size that we've chosen printed out on a paper. What is remarkable to me is that I never once thought about maybe placing it somewhere less visible since it's bigger than I wanted it, I could have traced it on a transparent foil with a marker and place it on my arm to see how I felt with it, I could've imagine my arm with it – but nothing, I decided I'm not going to overly analize it (because this is what I usually do), I'm just going to get it done because othervise, I'm going to give up on doing it altogether.
    On the day of the session I had butterflies and was excited. My husband was gonna meet me in the parlour but he got cought up at work and didn't make it. So I went through it myself. The artist was nice and everything, the place clean. But my head was dumb. Completely. When he started placing the scheme on my arm, he asked me where I wanted it, close to my wrist or more in the middle. I said: "no, not next to my wrist, a little bit further, but not exactly on the middle", however, he looked at my arm and placed it right in the middle because he obviously tought this looked the best or didn't understand me and told me to look at myself in the mirror and tell him if I wantef something changed. I don't know what went through my head at that moment, I stood up, looked at my arm for like 3 seconds and said; "cool, let's do it!". It never once crossed my mind that after I do it there's no going back, I just looked at the font (which I already knew I liked), but didn't look at the placement or size or took at least a couple of minutes to imagine myself with those letters on my arm every day till the rest of my life 🙁 Sooo unlike me, I'm a type of person that dwels on which shoes to buy for hours or I pick out bracelets for days before I decide on the exact combination that I like and so on 🙁 Not to mention what a perfectionist I am – I mean, I decorate a freaking Christmas tree for a whole day until I get everything symetrical and balanced!!! But a tattoo, I didnt't even look at it!
    Anyways, when I got home, I noticed that the tattoo isn't placed where I originally planned it but almost 3cm down – it was standing in the middle of my hand where I never imagined it and it was like: "oh my god, what have I done". Also, it was waaaay bigger than I imagined it in my head and I didn't like how my arm looked with it 🙁 It was too visible, everyone could see it and ask me about it and I started panicking. Immediately I thought of a million different places where I could have placed it in this size – it seemed that it would look good anywhere but there, on my arm 🙁
    The design and the way my tattoo was done is beautiful, however, I like the meaning that it has for me, I just wish I've done it on some other part of my body, like on the line from my neck to my shoulder, or my back, somewhere more suptile and less visible 🙁
    It's been 4 days now and everyday I'm in a bigger agony, I feel so stupid for not acting more like myself at the parlour, I even kind of blame my husband for not being there with me or for even giving me this gift in the first place ehich is completely crazy and it tears me apart 🙁 Mostly I'm mad at myself because I have a beautiful and a meaningful tattoo in a wrong freaking place… I feel sooo down, it's like my worst nightmare came true 🙁 I know it will probably get better with time but I hate the fact that I've even gotten myself in this situation. And I'm a grown woman to make the matters worse, not some impulsive kid! I'm just so dissapointed in myself and I can't speak to anyone about it because I don't want to admit my failure 🙁

    • Please be kind to yourself. I bet it is still great and the sentiment is exactly what it was meant to be. I felt very similar when I had mine done in December and i feel much happier now. You're allowed to be brave and impulsive occasionally even if the outcome isn't 100%. Being an over thinker can be the worst sometimes but I bet it also makes you a really thoughtful and caring person too. Try to let yourself enjoy it, you might just remember in yourself the person who looked at Pinterest and wanted one. X

    • In response to your comment and the girl above…Thank you both darlings. I know this post is very old, but it helps me now! I've been doing exatly the same with watching movie stars the last 2 weeks, thinking they look so perfect and have no tattoo's! Ofcourse not because that is their carreer and they look great yes with all those make up and hair stylist. I'm 30 and just got my full back and shoulder done (second tattoo. I went from a tiny little one on my ankle to this extreem big one). It was freestyle done by the artist, which is a big risk I can warn everyone for that. Same thing, I was just saying: Yes let's do it! How stupid, sucha big tattoo. Not once did it go through my head it was there for ever. What the hell? What was wrong with me? So now I have two issues. First the fact that I will "never be like that Nina" anymore when I look at pictures. Second the fact that the tattoo is very different to what I wanted. (It's like getting a haircut but this time permanent). But yes it is me now. It's part of me and part of life. Which symbolise the tattoo itself. I've had massive issues with commitment, so maybe this was a prove to myself. I can commit. I am spontenous and like extremes. I want to learn mistakes myself and I deal with the consequences. It's me. I'm not too sure yet whether I am gonna get parts lasered (as they are done very bad) or cover up. But I'm definitly keeping it and these comments have helped me to start loving it. Thank you.

  61. Always loved tattoos, and always had ideas about what I would get, but never really wanted one enough to take the plunge. I don't have any, and am in my 30's. I'm pretty glad I never did it, because with all the scars, skin issues, body issues, and things I can't change about myself, it just seems like one more thing that I would have to cater to in some fashion.

    My grandmother never got her ears pierced and her reasoning was "I have enough holes in my body" (ears, nose, etc..). I feel that. I prefer to remain a blank canvas, so that as I age, I can continue to adopt any look I want without an image on my skin to dress around, cover, share, or incorporate in my "look."

    I am an artist, and lover of fashion and design, so I see so many opportunities for self expression, and I don't feel that tattoo-urge so many people have. (I realize many artists do have tattoos for this very reason – self expression.) It's funny, because I'm a very impulsive person. One would think I'd have gotten one by now. I guess I just know deep down that I don't want another physical aspect of myself to have to think about. I mean really, if I could have a superpower it would probably be invisibility. (Or flying. Yeah, scratch that – it's flying.)

    Strangers approaching you constantly is so real too. I've had exes that were all covered and they just HATED being approached and having their skin stared at by strangers 24/7. Everywhere we'd go, people would interrupt our convos to check out their [really awesome] arms and neck tattoos. Some people like (even crave) that kind of attention, but I certainly don't. Not to mention, if placement isn't strategic, you may have trouble getting certain jobs, home rentals, etc. These issues have come up for me and said exes.

    If you're questioning whether to get a tattoo, I recommend continuing to question it, and not making an irreversible decision. Invest in some wall art. Paint. Adorn yourself in other ways. Life is long and if you're lucky, you will change/evolve as you grow. Again though – I adore tattoos – they're beautiful, so I mean no criticism here to those that have them. Just some input from someone who doesn't, and has weighed it carefully for many years.

  62. The original post could not be more like how I feel.
    I have two tattoos now. The first is a little star on my ankle I got for my 18th birthday. It's small and simple and means a lot to me. I love it and it's also easily hidden. But a few days ago I got my second…I thought i was ready for a bigger, more visible tattoo, that is until it was too late. This new one is larger and on the left side of my chest. The design has meaning and at first I loved it but after my mom (who I'm extremely close with) freaked out, I've grown to hate it. I don't feel like myself. I look in the mirror and don't recognize who is looking back. I am someone who liked to express myself with the clothes i wear and since I live in a hot, humid area, I use to always wear tank tops and loose blousy shirts. But because I'm ashamed of my new tattoo I have been wearing items that cover it and as a result I feel less like myself.

    Im glad that I'm not the only one with regret but I hate that we feel this way. I'm not someone who makes spur of the moment decisions or who does spontaneous things, but looking back I totally rushed into getting this new tattoo. Originally I got it to show it off but since I feel shame I have hidden it since I got it. Maybe if I showed it off I'd feel a little better about it? My roommates say they like it and honestly I go back and forth but I've been waking up with this awful regret that makes me feel so bad about myself. I'm someone who struggles with self-esteem in the first place and prior to the tattoo I was overcoming it and gaining confidence. Now that is all but shattered.

    This feeling of regret and lack of self-esteem is completely immobilizing at times. I use to value alone time but now if I'm alone my regret and shame is all I think about. Typing this helps relieve some pain but I know these feelings will return.

    I just want to move on. I agree with another commentor that planning for an out helps. I hate that I am but I'm already planning for a removal.

    I know I need to be a adult and accept what I did and move on but it's hard. Until I can afford a removal I'll just keep it covered and start gaining my confidence back somehow. If only time travel existed…

    • Your not alone. I'm planning removal (partly). However please read into this. I've spend a few weeks researching (I should of done this about a tattoo!!!). It takes a long time to get it 'fully' removed. I will definitly go with the partly removal, because parts are doing very wrong and bad, but for the meantime I think out of all the comments here, the mean issue is self esteem. Getting used to yourself growing in life (and failing) and excepting who you are and choices you have made. It's not actually about the tattoo. It's about you. You will learn lessons quicker this way in my opinion. And please listen to when people ask about your tattoo, or say it's nice. They mean it genuinly! They don't know your feelings about it. They think you like it and they try to praise you! Take that positive energy as you deserve it. It's not about getting attention, is about reconigsion about who you are. And the ones judging you? Well you have to ask yourself, are those the type of people you respect anyway? That's them being superficial . Great people will love you either way, with all your beauty and all your flaws.

  63. I got my tattoo a couple of days ago for my 18th birthday. I don't mind explaining the symbolism behind it to people, and I feel like my story won't make much sense without it so here goes.

    My favorite poet, ever since I was little, has been Shel Silverstein. I love his work, it's simplicity, and the underlying themes. My favorite illustration by him is relatively well known, called "The Thinker of Tender Thoughts". If you don't feel like looking it up (although I recommend you do) I'll explain it quickly. The illustration depicts a boy growing into adulthood, with flowers sprouting from his head (his tender thoughts) at various stages of his life, eventually becoming a full blown, beautiful garden on top of his head in the place of hair. He is teased by his peers (all with buzz cuts), and, feeling dejected, cuts all of the flowers off, resulting in a buzz cut. The end of the illustration shows him cutting off the last flower and pinning it to his lapel.

    I have seen many tattoos of a part of the illustration, usually the man with a full head of flowers. The one that inspired me to get mine was a cut flower, done behind a woman's ear. For a long time, I wanted the same place and design, but the more I thought about it, the less I liked the symbolism and the idea of having the tattoo hidden from most of the world. For some people, I understand the desire to have a tattoo for personal reasons, only to be revealed to themselves or those close to them, but I see it as a physical extension of who I am and my values. I also associated the behind-the-ear tattoo with keeping your morals (and tender thoughts) close to you in the face of adversity, which is a wonderful message, but to me, a naive one. No matter how hard we swim against the tide, we change, even if only a little, with it. I got it beneath my collarbone (on my "lapel") for this reason and several others, but mostly as a reminder that it's OK to change, as long as your morals stay close to you.

    Now on to why I am on this thread. I do not like my tattoo. Maybe it needs time, as people are saying, and maybe I shouldn't have gotten it on my 18th birthday, and maybe I shouldn't have gotten it in black, but at this point it's permanent. The people I care about are impartial to it, and while I did not get it to impress anyone it's disappointing to have my parents making passive aggressive comments like "you're the one that has to live with it". I can't put my finger on why it is that I don't like it – I got exactly what I wanted and it looks great. It's been two days, but seeing the reflection of myself in the mirror is like looking back at an entirely different person. I miss having completely bare skin where the tattoo now is, and I don't look like myself any more. I feel weird having a permanent black mark on my pale skin, and it looks incredibly unnatural.

    Here is what I have decided. I do not want to get the tattoo removed, and I do not want to have it covered by another tattoo. Regardless of how I feel about the physical mark of the tattoo in a week, in a month, or in a year, I will always love it for the person it makes me. Maybe the reason I feel funny with a tattoo is, (ironically) that I have changed as a person because of it. I am already more accepting of the person who I am inside.

    I hope to follow up with my thoughts on it when I've had it for a bit longer, but regardless, I hope that this helped someone!

    • "I will always love it for the person it makes me" I feel this too. I may feel like I don't like how I or my tattoo looks sometimes but am proud I have something which signifies wisdom, kindness & acceptance.

  64. I realize this is a super old thread but need to get more out so…

    I am glad to see I am not alone in post tattoo worry (I don't want to say regret). I just got my 3rd (or is it my fourth depending on how you count). My first was a decent sized tattoo on my side, 2/3 are 2 birds and designs and flowers around my ankle, again not as big as the hippo but not a little anklet. I love my first tattoo, decent about 2 and also like 3 very much.

    I just got number 4, it takes up my entire thigh. This thing is a beast which I thought I wanted and was ok with. I had the idea for this tattoo for over 10 years based off a photo of a deceased family member from long ago. It is a bust of a female is the same pose, similar hair not a copy of the image but based on. there are some line work and flowers around it.

    I wanted to love it, maybe I passed my reservations off as excitement or nervousness, maybe I couldnt envision how big it would really seem once complete. Its also the person, I look down and see this person on my thigh and I am kinda freaked out. In the past I always sent pictures to friends or posted out of excitement, not with this one.

    Its been less then 24 hours and I have had terrible anxiety and guilt, I am trying to love it and cope but something just feels wrong. Don't get me wrong the tattoo is done beautifully. I just don't love it. I wanted to love it, I thought I would love it. I look down at it or at myself in the mirror and think holy shit WTF did I do. I can't really talk to anyone bc they don't really understand and would be more I told you so or can't do anything now. I think the size is ok, but I should have gone 3/4 smaller. But the biggest thing is this person. I guess I didn't think it would feel weird to have a person tattooed on me and …… so many whys and should have could haves but I can talk them around in my head for hours and it wont help or change anything

    phew, sigh, thanks…

    • First off, everything will be okay. I felt the same when mine was finished and it took a few days to stop feeling sick and a few weeks to feel less guilty.

      6 months on and I think it's really cool. Sometimes it bugs me but then so does every other part of my person which is what it is when you think about it. Remember the reasons you love it and try not to give yourself a hard time. You haven't hurt anyone or done something bad, you've had an audacious piece of art done. It's just a shock because your appearance is different to yesterday. A bunch of tomorrow's later and it'll feel better x big non creepy hugs 🙂

      • Thank you for replying Rach. It just sucks. I was supposed to be so happy and excited today! Now I am just making myself sick. You would think I was smarter then to wind up in this situation, tattoo number 4 thought about for over 10 years!

        I keep beating myself up in my head. To top it off I think my husband also isnt that big a fan of it. He went along on my tattoos but would be fine with me not getting them. I felt him looking at me last night and made a comment that he has to get used to seeing grandma (the tat was based/inspired by a photo of her) there. So now I think I was being selfish, getting undressed in front of him what does he see a thigh sized representation of my grandma, not a turn-on.

        • I'm sure he still finds you as attractive as he did before. Like you it'll just take some getting used to.

          You didn't walk into an untested tattoo parlour and pick the first photo out of a book and then woken up with regret. You've really thought about it and chosen something that means a lot to you. It feels weird but I think it'd be strange if you added a big tattoo and it didn't affect you. How disassociated from your body would you feel if it didn't have an impact!

          Ultimately it's your body and most of us women have a challenging relationship with how we feel about our bodies. A friend of mine pointed out that I felt guilty because I'd done something just for me, not for anyone's approval and that was an unusual thing for me to do and I should be proud for allowing myself to do it. I obviously don't know you but maybe the same is true for you and you feel guilt because it wasn't for your husband or anyone else it was for you.

          I really hope you get comfortable and ultimately happy with it, I bet it's really cool! For now, try to remember why you wanted it…those reasons will still be true as you've wanted it for so long.

  65. I had my first tattoo at 35 and did not hesitate at all. I am a decent artist so I sketched the whole design myself, took it to a tattoo artist who did extensive work on a friend of mine, and was completely happy with the results. I listened to my wife's advice and had him place the design so that a short sleeve shirt would cover the majority of the tattoo, but leave just enough showing that I could show off my new ink. I was never self conscience about it nor did I regret it. I was proud that the stencil came right out of my own sketch book. I wore that tattoo for six years and never had another piece done until three years ago. A young friend of mine wanted to commemorate our friendship with a flash tattoo. She has many tattoos all over her body so this wasn't a big deal to her. I walked in with a design I liked but it was a copy of an alpha omega design I saw on the internet. The tattoo artist, as he should have, told me no way, he doesn't copy another artists work. So he went ahead and did his own version of it on the underside of my upper arm. I wasn't happy with the line work or the overall piece and have since had three laser sessions performed. Well you'd think I would have learned but I didn't. A friend of mine at work had an amazing full length sleeve done and I loved the look of it. I thought to myself, "hey it wouldn't be so bad wearing long sleeves at work in June, it will be worth it". I found an incredible tattoo artist who actually knows my wife from high school. He started adding on to the work I already had done on my right arm, extending more pieces down to my elbow. He has done two swallows in black and white to represent my wife and I and our journey through life together. I love the concept of the tattoo but hate the looks I get from people when they see my right arm. I'm also not happy with my choice of two swallows because I feel like they are slightly feminine tattoos that you would usually see on a woman. Since then I added a compass to try to toughen it up a bit but I'm still feeling regret and have decided to abandon the three quarter sleeve I started. Unfortunately the tattoo looks exactly like that, an unfinished sleeve piece. I'm angry with myself that I didn't quit while I was ahead and enjoy the great piece that I had from eight years ago but that is now water under the bridge. So now I'm just trying to decide if I should have my artist fill in the remaining background so at least it looks like a finished half sleeve, or just continue getting laser treatments and hope for the best. Any advice would be appreciated.

    • Hi Paul,

      I just come across all these comments and wondered what you decided to do? I got most of my back done 4 weeks ago and seriously thinking about laser in 2 weeks. Can we swap emails and communicate? I

      • Hi Nina,
        Feel free to contact me via email. My advice to you is this: find a way to alter the existing tattoo to make it something you like or love. The laser work I started is expensive and painful. I've had four sessions and it has barely made a dent. The woman who lasers me said I will probably need 4 – 6 more sessions at $125 per treatment, and that was with a 25% discount special they were running. I decided to keep all the other work I have and get the half sleeve finished. The problem was in my head. Any sort of permanent modification to your body is hard to accept once it's done, however the tattoos have meaning to me and despite the looks I get sometimes, I have had just as many complements. The swallows are a unisex design, but I've had just as many guys as girls tell me they are great tattoos. I have decided to own my decision and wear my art with pride. It has been a good life lesson for me, and as a teacher I share my experiences with my students so that they will think long and hard before getting inked about what they want and if they should do it at all. Hope this helps you.

  66. I got my first tattoo almost a year ago now and for the past couple of months I've just been wanting something new.
    I absolutely love my current tattoo but have found some new designs I love even more and I was looking into removing my old tattoo and covering up with a new design.
    BUT I DON'T KNOW WHY! Like I said, I love my current tattoo – I just don't want any more parts of my body inked and think this new design will suit me better. Then again I got this original for a reason and always said I would love it forever even if it faded and sagged… So why do I want to replace it??
    Is this a bad decision to remove and cover up or should I just go with the flow and let life take me where I want at different times??? Please help! I need advice haha 🙂

  67. My lover left me in 2 years ago. he did not contact me, wouldn't answer my calls and emails, During this period I contacted many casters without results. . But I never lost hope until i got to meet this powerful caster ROBINSONBUCKLER@ (yahoo). com and he did the most wonderful spell for me and after 3 days everything changed, my lover came back, his love spell works fast even in the most complex circumstances, I am recommending his love spell to every couple who wants to get back together, I can say Mr Robinson possessed all the qualities you want if you want to get your lover back, it was like a dream to me, he will solve your relationship problem

  68. I know this is a really old thread, but just wanted to say thank you all so much for posting. It's really amazing to hear how not-everyone loves their "well researched and planned ink". I thought I had well researched mine, a celebration of my marriage to my best friend, in form of a three inch crane (the bird, not the machinery) on my wrist – very visible for my first tattoo.

    Having read the tattoo tips, I researched the "perfect" artist, drove three hours to meet him, did the consult, on which he promised to send me a drawn sketch a few days before the appointment. Come the day before, he emails saying he "was busy and didn't have time to sketch it" but he'd do it when I arrived for the appointment. At the shop, given five minutes to decide, or "I'd lose my deposit", I went with what I thought was ok. Now, 8 hours later, I'm like "what the hell is this huge dark, linear, mess on my wrist?". And it's going to be there. Forever.

    But having read this thread, I can see how I can learn to love it. It wasn't what I originally wanted, wasn't what I had planned, certainly isn't perfect, but it's now part of me. Which perfectly commemorates my relationship with my husband – he has flaws, he wasn't an easy option (living 5000 miles away when we met), wasn't who I ever imagined being with forever, but is such a huge part of me. It will take me time to learn to love and accept my tattoo as part-of-me, but I hope I'll get there.

    This thread helped, so, so much. It's so reassuring to know that I'm not alone thinking "wtf have I done", or alone in regretting not asking for something different, or taking more time to change the design, or in having to learn that life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful. Thank you.

    • I had something similar happen- I drew my tattoo I wanted (a moth that would be a cuff for my wrist- very little shading, mostly lines, and I loved it). I took my time finding the right place to go to, found a really talented artist. Went to go make the appt. and he said he really liked my design. So come the day of he said he had to change a few things because lines were too close together in some areas, so I waited a hour as he basically redrew the entire thing. I didn't have the original drawing with me and I kept telling him to change this and that because I wasn't happy. there was a lot of shading I didn't want he had added. He ended up taking out half of what he shaded and I went for it, but throughout the 5+ hours of tattooing I kept getting this nagging feeling that it was coming out too dark. He had said the areas that looked dark would be only "50% black" but now a week later it is very black in the majority of the tattoo. I am really depressed about it being not close to my original drawing and being so dark and visible. I can't even describe the regret I am feeling that I didn't just tell him I wanted it as close to the original and keep telling him no until I was 100% happy. I feel like I was talked into getting it after waiting so long for him to redraw it. I don't know how to become happy with it- hopefully I can accept it in time. But this is the first thing I have really really regretted- not speaking up for myself I now have a constant reminder of why I need to speak up if I'm not happy and not settle. Thank you for this thread- I am hopeful I can get to the point many of you are at one day to acceptance.

        • I'm considering letting it get sun over the summer and seeing if I can let it fade naturally. I don't know. I'm still in the stages of grief about it, kicking myself about not speaking up. I have to let that part go because I can't go back obviously. I'm just really disappointed in myself.

  69. I read all these comments and really appreciate and agree with majority of what is being said, but just one general question…. Has anyone ever felt that they like their tattoo better after the first session than when it was finished after the second session? My tattoo is down my spine, after the first session I had it for 3 weeks, then went to the other session and just had it finished up. I'm not sure if it's because I got so accustomed to how my back looked before vs. now or if I genuinely don't like it. It's gorgeous & all, and it definitely looks actuallyyyy finished (not almost finished, like after the first session) but I just don't know what it is…

  70. I'm sorry to everyone who has tattoo regret. From reading these posts the common theme seems to be the size and visibility. I have three tattoos, done twenty years ago and I'm now starting the process of cover ups. No tattoo regret just out dated and poorly done. They're small to medium sized and not highly visible. Lots of research and thought but I understand not loving a tattoo.
    I think in time there will be acceptance for you that have regret. Pay no mind to others opinions. Your body your art. Your expression. I think your eyes will adjust to a large visible piece. Forme I think the quality of design ismore important, so if you're happy with that the shock of size will fade. Just give yourself some time.

  71. The commenters and original poster all seem to share some anxiety about their tattoo and the polite (& friendly) thing to do is to be nice or say nothing.

    You are of course entitled to your own opinions but please consider that your post may have made a few people feel worse than they did before reading it which is a shame.

  72. I agree with Rach, I feel that if your words cannot bring comfort to situations that can't be changed – best not to say them on this thread anyway. Your post did make me feel worse about something I struggle each day to live with – not helpful!

  73. Some people cannot live with having a tattoo, whether it is beautiful or ugly. Don't forget tattooing was done on prisoners as way to brand them. You have to allow for the strength of mind over matter. If you suddenly got a disease that gave you a deformed face how would you live? Despite the change in appearance you would still be you. Just like a tattoo whether it be ugly or nice, you are still you. Separate the mind from matter, you are not just ink or bone or flesh. You are spirit, mind and soul. Forget the ink, be yourself. You have not changed since getting the tattoo done, you are still the same beautiful person who was born into this world. Enjoy being alive….I have many tattoos and I have felt like you do. But overcoming this will give you mental strength.

  74. Hi All, I have tattoo on my upper neck left side facing, which is quite visible, i was not in my sense when i had it,I live in hot place so i cant easily cover, also i am getting married in few months,My fiancee wants me to keep till marriage, After then i am gonna have lager treatment and get it removed.i started avoiding my office because people talk about this, and i cant handle their smile and talk about me in groups. Tattoo removal will take around 6-7 months , i understand i am facing hard time, but not only that, i will regret even after i get to remove because my pics with tattoo at the time of my marriage will remind me forever that i was so stupid.

    I don't know how people will react to me once it is removed, i need to face that too.

    I am in deep shit, cant talk about this to people i know, relatives and even close one except my fiancee. I see dark dream these days.

    Only thing i know life does not stop no matter what, i am going to remove it but it will take a year from now, i will answer too. but i will never forget this lesson of my life.

  75. I just finished my sleeve last night that I’ve been working on for 5 years, and I woke up in a panic with regret/shock/doubt or whatever you want to call it. This is a feeling that has come and gone with all of my work, and I’m pretty heavily tattooed.

    I’ve struggled with my body image since I was 8 years old so naturally I’m going to have a hard time accepting that it is a beautiful piece of art. I also work in an industry that hasn’t completely accepted tattoos and worry about whether this will block people from seeing my talent. It’s also the whole permanace thing and getting used to change and inevitably comparing yourself to others. I often can’t find the proper words to describe how I feel but someone compared it to a relationship where you love the person and sometimes want to murder them and I think that was hilarious and beautiful.

    I’m glad I don’t feel alone in this and I’m honored to be part of the badass tattooed club! I hope anyone else having those feelings finds this article to ease their mind.

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.