I have a tattoo on my lower back which is my only one. I was desperate to get a tattoo from my early teens but luckily I was persuaded *read 'forced'* by my sensible parents to wait until adulthood before finally getting inked. Otherwise I suspect I'd now be saving up for removal of a yin-yang symbol and an acid house smiley! None of my family members have tattoos and my parents were always adamant I couldn't do this "whilst you're living under my [their] roof" until I was at least 18 and made it known they wouldn't be thrilled after this point either.
At the reasonably sensible age of 22 (hmmm) I took a design I'd liked for a long time into the tattoo parlour in Soho and after badgering them with health & safety questions about autoclaves and so on, I was tattooed by a lovely lady with amazing flower vines covering both her legs. During my twenties I loved my tattoo and relished any opportunity to display it. It was even worth the embarrassment of purchasing Preparation H** from my sexy local pharmacist for its aftercare, whilst loudly proclaiming "it's for my new tattoo". I didn't anticipate buying that again but alas, along came children (but that's another post altogether).
Rapidly approaching the slightly more mature age of 32, it's not that I don't like it anymore and I haven't considered getting it removed, it's just that I don't have the figure I once did (Ladies & Gents roll up, roll up for THE understatement of the year) and consequently no longer wear long slung jeans and waist-revealing/backless tops so it spends all year under layer upon layer of baggy clothing. To be honest I forget it's there, except when I accidentally catch sight of it in the mirror. I just wonder whether if given the option to have it magically disappear with no painful laser treatment and no expense whether I'd say "Yes" and I suspect I probably would. I guess those seriously dedicated to their body art have words for people like me who have had a single tattoo in the name of fashion, answers on a postcard please...
I have to confess when I was deciding on its placement I was, what tattoo enthusiasts would probably call, a coward. As I deliberately chose a place on my body where it could easily been concealed when it suited me. This was primarily due to the fact that I worked in Financial Markets where I felt judgements would be instantly made. I know that nobody wants to be branded (pardon the pun) according to the ink in their skin but people regularly use looks (including clothing, hair, make up, etc.) as instant cues to form first impressions, regardless of whether or not you think this is how it should work.
Despite the fact tattoos are relatively mainstream nowadays, I believe some prejudice around "the tattooed" still exists and unless you REALLY don't give two hoots what others think, then I imagine you may agree with my "can I cover it up?' logic. I'm aware of the argument that people who would judge you on first impressions wouldn't be worth knowing anyway and I agree, to a point, but there are lots of times in my life when I only had a single chance to create a professional initial impression and this was important to me. Many people claim that the tattooed don't judge the non-tattooed for their abstinence so why is it ok in reverse? I'm not advocating that it is ok, I'm simply saying that whether we like it or not people make snap judgements every day based on appearances of others and having a tattoo assists people in pigeonholing you.
I have also contemplated whether becoming a parent and setting myself up for having to answer my children's, perfectly reasonable, questions about what I have on my back, what it's made from, etc. has altered my opinion. Again, I think I would say that it had. I feel slightly embarrassed at the prospect of having to answer such questions and explain my choices when deep down I know that I would try to dissuade my own children from having tattoos in their teens/early twenties in case it was a passing phase they later regretted. I don't think you can ever be 100% certain a tattoo wont fall out of your favour. There's a family story about an uncle twice removed (or similarly close relation!) who was married to Betty but had a large tattoo on his chest proclaiming his love for "Elizabeth". Betty then had to rest her head on Elizabeth every night for their entire married life! I have also encountered people (sly code for ex-boyfriend at Uni) who had brands tattooed on their person that have since gone into liquidation.
So I'm interested to know what your stance is on tattoos, either for yourself or your children when they're older? With a fifth of all Brits now sporting some ink, do you think the trend is likely to continue into the next generation or has it become so popular as to render it uncool? I have to confess I now know more people with tattoos than without them.