From an ex’s name to a mediocre band to a mediocre-er tribal arm band, the tattoos people regret and have removed.
I’ve done a handful of lists on tattoos before and each time I admit — or should admit — I’m not qualified to discuss tattoos. I don’t have a tattoo, I won’t ever get one, I’m scared of needles, I fear permanence, and, overall, I don’t totally “get” them. But a lack of qualifications has never stopped anyone on the Internet from expressing opinions before and I’m not going to be the pioneer, so onward we go.
Dr. Maryam Zamani in London is a plastic surgeon who focuses on tattoo removal. Last week, she put out a list of the top 10 tattoos people regret and have removed; I asked for the 11th, and now, I’ve got a list.
Here are the 11 most popular reasons people regret their tattoos and spend lots of money and lots of long, painful hours having them removed.
11 | A spelling/grammar error
This is a great personal insight into the difference in my brain versus other brains. If I were to get a tattoo and it had a spelling error, getting it removed wouldn’t be enough — I’d want to chop off the body part. For the average person, it’s less regrettable than a Frankie Goes to Hollywood neck tattoo.
10 | Something they no longer like/dislike
9 | Eyebrows
I didn’t even know these were a thing. I am so outside of tattoo culture. Isn’t it a problem to get your eyebrows tattooed since it guarantees you’ll always walk around looking surprised or suspicious or puzzled regardless of what you’re actually thinking?
8 | Musicians and bands
If you must get a band tattoo, you’ve got to go for a classic — REO Speedwagon or better. You don’t want to bet your skin on the future of Charli XCX’s staying power.
7 | Visible ones that make job hunting hard
Sure, having an inconvenient tattoo is bad if you’re applying for *some* jobs — but if you want to work at Starbucks, a neck tattoo is damn near a requirement. If you were going in for an interview at Starbucks and didn’t have a neck tattoo, you might consider wearing a turtleneck to mask your shame.
6 | Poor quality
5 | Ones that have changed with body shape
It was surprisingly hard to find photos of tattoos on sagging skin or, um, enlarged skin. I did, however, see plenty of tattoos on older people that looked just as pristine as tattoos on younger, tighter skin. So maybe this one’s a myth. There’s an entire generation hoping this one’s a myth, at the very least.
4 | Drunk mistakes
Tattoo parlors clearly expect quite a bit of drunken foot traffic — they stay open pretty late into the night and are generally open in areas that make it possible to stumble into them. Although all that’s also true for FedEx Kinko’s. If I’m ever bad decision-level drunk, I hope I have the good sense not to get a tattoo but rather to do some regrettable photocopying.
3 | Someone’s name
I feel like people’s friends are generally supportive of the tattoos they get — “Oh, it looks great! Wow! I never knew you liked butterflies that much, it’s just that you’ve never mentioned them before, but, yeah, great!” — but if any tattoo could elicit “Wait, really?” from your friends, it’s a tattoo of the name of the person you’ve been dating for a few months.
2 | Tribal bands
There are some cultures where these designs have deep significance and tradition behind them. “White guy who played defensive tackle in high school” isn’t one of those cultures.
1 | Lower back tattoos
Look, lower back tattoos get a lot of bad press, but I say let it ride. Eventually enough other women will get rid of their lower back tattoos and you’ll be that unique rebel, thus fulfilling the ultimate goal of a tattoo — right?