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

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?

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

  1. 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 🙂

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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!!

  8. 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.

  9. 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 🙂

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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 🙂

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  18. 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.

  19. 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…

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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!

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

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