A new study has revealed that as many as one in four Americans regrets a tattoo. The report has taken an extensive look into tattoo regret and removals and highlighted some fascinating trends, with tattoos becoming less of a lifelong commitment.
However, the data also suggests that pet tattoos are not among those regrets, with people often more dedicated to the memory of their lost furry friends than the humans who’ve left their lives.
Tattoos are becoming more socially acceptable, and pet tattoos are growing in popularity among pet owners. However, concerns remain over their semi-permanent nature and the judgment they can draw from others.
The study, by Advanced Dermatology, involved a series of questions about tattoos, removal, and related skincare. Around 25% of those surveyed who said they had tattoos reported that they regretted at least one. The top reasons that people regretted the tattoo, in order, are:
- They don’t like how the tattoo looks
- They’ve just decided they no longer like the tattoo anymore
- The tattoo artist did a bad job
- The meaning of the tattoo isn’t something the owner can relate to anymore
- The tattoo negatively impacts the owner in their career
With pet tattoos, many owners want to memorialize their fluffy family members permanently. Other studies into pet obsessions have shown that as many as half of pet owners would consider a pet tattoo or already have one. But simple tattoos are less likely to be the subject of regret than more complex designs that could be poorly executed or have a negative career impact.
Driven by Design
The study looked at the types of tattoos Americans regretted the most, and the top style was lettering or script. It’s possible to draw from this that people will likely remove mantras or sayings, and this may be even more true if inked in another language that may later seem corny.
Lettering and script are responsible for 19% of regretted tattoos, followed by symbols (16%) and then names (12%), which likely means people are getting a loved ones name tattooed on them and later breaking up with that person or losing touch, and regretting the ‘permanent’ mark left.
Animal designs are responsible for 10% of tattoo regrets. Many of these won’t be related to pets – people enjoy getting exotic animal tattoos for their style. But they may be – a Ragdoll cat is beautiful to look at in real life, but getting a large feline breed like that tattooed on the arm could be something that was later viewed as regrettable. An animal memorial may work better with a smaller design.
Timing plays a huge part in how people feel about their tattoos. The statistics revealed by the study show that 48% of people got their tattoos spontaneously, which is vast – almost half of all tattoos aren’t planned in advance.
Most regret kicks in later down the line, though – with 51% of people saying they regretted a tattoo, saying it took two or more years to feel like they’d made the wrong decision. Only 18% of people said they wished they hadn’t got the tattoo after just a few days.
Because most people take time to regret their tattoos, it signifies a loss of meaning – something important no longer has the same emotional weight. Again, this implies that pet tattoos are not part of the problem – people are much less likely to regret a pet memorial than one commemorating a relationship that may have broken down.
Of those surveyed, over half of respondents who regretted their tattoos said that they intended to get one removed in the future. Tattoo removal has become much more widely available but is still costly and lengthy.
23% of people planned to get all their tattoos removed, showing a general regret for having been inked in the first place.
Despite tattoos now being easier to remove, this shouldn’t be seen as a simple get-out clause. Tattoos are still a serious investment, and the advice is to avoid getting one if there is potential for future regret and not rely on removal.
Popularity of Tattoos
Despite the high number of regrets, tattoos are still highly popular with Americans. 73% of people have a favorable opinion regarding tattoos, and almost 40% have at least one tattoo. Of those, most people have three or more – only 35% have a single tattoo, and 18% have two.
On average, people spend $745 on their tattoos, making them a significant investment. Yet only 16% of people believe that their most expensive tattoo was worth the price they paid.
Pet tattoos are becoming a more popular way of memorializing animals since a tattoo will often outlive the pet for many years. Pet owners form a close bond with their animals and want a permanent reminder showing their dedication to the love and support their animals offer.
Reasons for Getting a Tattoo
Despite this, remembrance is only the fifth-most popular reason people get tattoos. The top reason is self-expression – people still primarily get a tattoo to express their personality or beliefs.
Aesthetic reasons are the second most popular factor influencing tattoo decisions – people like to get tattoos just because they look good. Empowerment is the next most popular reason, followed by emotional healing – many people get a tattoo to remind themselves of a traumatic time and the fact that they have survived that period of their life and improved as a result.
Pet tattoos certainly fall primarily under remembrance, but some may want to demonstrate their love of animals and consider their pet tattoo a form of self-expression.
Almost half of those surveyed said that they felt judged for their tattoos, which partially influenced their regret. Family is the group most responsible for judgemental feelings, suggesting that while most Americans accept tattoos, parents may still have some old-fashioned feelings.
Surprisingly, strangers were the next most popular group for judging tattoos, with professional colleagues or managers being behind those. People feel they are accepted more in the workplace than by the general public.
Some of the factors which may trigger others to judge someone for their choice of tattoo include:
- 1 in 10 people said they got a tattoo dedicated to their significant other before breaking up with them
- 1 in 5 people said they got their tattoo while under the influence, potentially making a rash or poor decision
- 1 in 10 people said that they have a tattoo based on a TV show or a movie, which may have fallen out of popularity over the following years
Almost as concerning as the number of people who regret their tattoos is the number who don’t care for them properly. A massive 42% of people don’t put sunscreen on their tattoos, thinking the ink will protect their skin.
However, the ink is embedded in the skin, and the sun’s energy is just as likely to cause damage and potential skin cancers on tattooed skin as on clear skin. Tattoo owners are advised to be extra careful in ensuring they look after their tattoos well.
Despite this, 23% of people are concerned about how their tattoos will look when they are older and don’t think they will age.
Acceptance of Tattoos
98% of people believe tattoos are more socially accepted than they were in the past, and of those surveyed who don’t yet have a tattoo, 27% have plans to get one. 28% of people even believe tattoos are desirable and make people more attractive.
Despite this, 36% of respondents said they had lied to someone and told them they liked their tattoo when they actually didn’t. People primarily lie about tattoos to their friends and are more honest with family members. The top people lied to, in order, are:
And even if people feel less judged in a professional setting, most people believe that tattoos could harm a person’s professional opportunities.
Tattoos as Memorials
Pet tattoos, in particular, are one of the more popular ways to remember a loved kitty or pup once they have passed away. And yet the subject depends on the individual – a tattoo is constantly there. If it’s somewhere visible, then it may be an emotional reminder.
There are other memorials that people may prefer for a pet that doesn’t lead to regrets further down the line. Paintings and miniature statues are always popular to place in the home. At the same time, owners can keep their memories of their animal close by with a particular jewelry item.
The benefit of these options is that they are much more temporary. While pet owners don’t want to give up on their love for their departed pets, they may change their minds about how they memorialize them.
A tattoo is a good choice for many people – and is likely to grow in popularity as tattoo removal becomes more accessible – but pet owners should carefully consider their semi-permanent nature before committing.
Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,