Tattoo remorse: 25 of your most loathed or loved

Bill Wignall's tattoo A barcode from a condom packet

The Magazine's recent piece on tattoo remorse prompted lots of you to email examples of those you loathe and those you love. Here are 25 of the best.

Some are regretted, even hated. Others are loved and cherished, said Lucy Townsend in the article. Both categories are represented here.

1. When I was in my early 20s I got the barcode from a condom packet tattooed on my arm. I don't regret it, but I do still wonder exactly what made me do it. Bill Wignall, Leeds.

2. I have a tattoo on my left forearm, it's a cross with the words mum and dad on it. I had it done when I was 17. Since then I have risen into middle/senior management where the sight of a tattoo is unthinkable. I have to cover it all the time wearing long-sleeved shirts. I am now approaching 50 and for the last 20, or so, years painfully regret the thing. Philip Hoden, Lincoln.

3. When I first went to get a tattoo I was living in Sheffield and went to a tattooist in Hillsborough. When I explained that I wasn't sure what to have, he said: "If you are not sure then don't have one." A brilliant and honest piece of advice. Five years later, when I was sure, I went back to the same shop even though I had moved back to Essex. On my upper arm I now have the Essex County Cricket Club crest with "100% Essex Girl" written underneath it. I love it. Sally Stracey, Southend on Sea.

4. Una vita - vitate is tattooed on the inside of my left forearm. I just have to look at it on the bad days to remind me we only have "one life - live it". Not only a good motto, but a beautiful artistic piece of calligraphy. Stylish but discreet. Andrew Shaw, Peterborough.

5. I remember a workmate giving another worker a "home" tattoo. He must be the only man in Scotland with the unique tattoo of SCOTTLAND (with two Ts) on his arm. Andrew, Hawick, Scotland.

6. I have two gingerbread men, one done up like a devil on my left and the other like an angel on my right. I still love them. Someone asked what I would do when they went out of fashion, my answer is I didn't choose a faddy design. I went out of my way, as many people with tattoos do, to make my ink as unique as possible. Kat, Thornaby.

Cross tattoo You can just about see this is a cross with mum and dad written on it

7. I have a tattoo which is made up of the sheet music to my favourite Boyzone song - Isn't It A Wonder? - around my right ankle. People think I'm mad, but I point out that if I want to I can tell them it's Bach or the Rolling Stones instead of the actual truth. If I was that bothered - and I'm not! In addition, I have "SPDG 76-09" underneath it to commemorate the life of Stephen Gately. Both of which are much less conspicuous than a friend of a friend who has portraits of all five lads from the group across her back. Angie, Nottingham.

8. I had a tattoo done when I was 18. I am now 36 and have regretted it for years due to the location and the fact it was meaningless. I am currently having laser treatment on it. Sessions one and two were relatively painless, but session three which I had a week ago was agony. I am still in a lot of pain with it and worried it will now scar. I have another tattoo which I am happy with both from a location perspective and the fact that it is a reminder of a certain period in my life. Louise, Wokingham.

9. I have a few tattoos and only regret one, it is of a woman with one of her nipples showing. It really seemed like a good idea at the time. Mark Morris, Telford.

Sophie's tattoo A well-loved cupcake

10. Just over two years ago, I went through what one might call a "rough patch" to put it mildly. I took a day off work and decided I'd use the day to get my first (and thus far only) tattoo. It was just what I needed - something personal, just for me, that no one could take away or ruin for me. I got a big, bright, colourful cupcake on my right hip. It didn't fix all my problems, but it did cheer me up and still does to this day. Sophie, London.

11. I got tattooed at 17, a quote from Simonides. I am educated, about to embark on my PhD and pragmatic. I chose a spot where age sagging is minimal and grow my tattoo collection in style. Smart people make smart choices, stupid people, well... Eva, London.

12. I had my first tattoo aged 21. It's on the side of my right calf and it's a sort of bird of paradise I picked off a tattooist's wall. I instantly regretted it, but learned to live with it over time. A couple of years later I persuaded a friend to come with me to a tattooist, him for his first and me for another one. This time I chose a unicorn and asked for it to be put on my backside. It hurt. There are an awful lot of nerve endings on your bottom. The tattooist cocked it up. I ended up with a unicorn with seven legs and a neck like a banana. I have never had it covered up and its only saving grace is that I never get to see it. Mark Thompson, Buckingham.

Rebecca's tattoo A deeply regretted dolphin and shooting star

13. I bitterly regret my tattoos, both done on impulse at the age of 18. One with alcohol on board and one without, but both on a whim. The only blessing is that they are within the "swimsuit" area. A small shooting star and a classy dolphin (not). But my devastation at permanently "branding" myself is hard to bear and one that I've had to explain to my daughter, who we're raising to believe that we're made perfect just the way we are. If I could dissuade just one young lady from going ahead with a tattoo, I would feel a whole better about it. Rebecca, Clevedon.

14. I had a Pegasus inked on my arm at an early age, by the time I was 21 I realised I had a My Little Pony on my arm. A couple of years later I had a Ying Yang cover up and you would never know there was one below. Since then I have had a new spine, muscles, ribs and bio-mechanical back which I will never be able to cover or remove. Mixed feelings about the work. Ashley Curtis, Leigh-on-sea, Essex.

15. I regret my tattoo on my back. It says "call me". It's awful! Ronnie Sparke, Waltham Abbey, Essex.

16. I waited until I was 64 before I got my first tattoo of a red devil on my thigh. The second one I had done a couple of weeks ago on my upper arm. I do not regret it, but some friends tell me I am mad. My husband has quite a few tattoos and does not regret them and is proud of the two I have. Elizabeth Waters, Lincoln.

Skull and dagger A tasteful skull and dagger with the legend "born to lose"

17.I have a tattoo on each upper arm, and two on my back, and for the most part I love them. I have no problem showing them off, but as a senior manager, I'm aware that first impressions last so I tend to keep them covered for important meetings and the like. The only regret I have is the wording of my first tattoo, done about 20 years ago. It is a traditional knife going through a skull, nice colours, but has the words "Born to lose" in banners across it. More recently I have looked into having it changed, but there is not a lot I can do. So I just tell everyone it's because I am a Spurs fan. Gavin Woolnough, Horsham.

18. Had my ex-wife's name in between my kids name. I don't mind my kids names, but hers is a mistake. Luke Tremaine, Plymouth.

19. Went on holiday with the lads when I was 17. After a few, I decided to get my girlfriend's name "Jodi" on my ankle. We split up three months later and the tattoo looks like "Jedi", which is also very annoying because I hate Star Wars. Euan Connelly, Kirkcaldy, Scotland.

20. I have several tattoos, but only one of which I would consider removing. I got it when I was underage and a lot thinner, as 16-year-old girls usually are. I had it on my tummy and it has stretched and blurred as I've aged. Kate, Truro.

21. I had a tattoo of two playing cards in memory of my grandparents, ace of diamonds for my Granddad ace of hearts for my Nan. I was 40, never had a tattoo before, never liked them, but these days it's a new age thing. Now I have seven, from the playing cards to Japanese writing say honour, loyalty, truth. I love them my next will be a scuba diver. Ian Chance, Reading.

22. I have a regrettable tattoo on my forehead. A very drunk idea I had once which was to get my head inked with a huge picture of a third eye, eyelashes and all. James, Melton Mowbray.

Rebecca's tattoo A bat getting stretched over time

23. I have four tattoos already and am having a fifth. I only have one I really regret, a small bat on my stomach. I got it because I love bats, but I chose to put it on my stomach which is never a good idea. It's now stretched and a bit weird and it was the most painful tattoo I ever had. There was meant to be a moon and stars around it, but I had to ask the tattoo artist to stop because of the pain. Rebecca, London.

24. I have three tattoos, one on each shoulder and one on my wrist. I always wanted a tattoo since I was a teenager but never knew what I wanted. It was only when I was in my 40s that I decided on a design. My tattoos are personal to me, they mean a lot and are not just the latest fad design and I think that's important. I am so glad I waited until adulthood as a dolphin on the ankle in your teens may seem brilliant but maybe not so good when your in your 50s. Linda, Glasgow

25. My grandfather had an American flag on his forearm. When my dad asked him why he had it he responded: "To always remind him of the stupidity of youth." Kate Kreke, Kingsbridge.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 582.

    The other reason for not having a tattoo (#579) is that if I do, I won't be able to give blood for 12 months - that's three pints, and the Blood Transfusion Service need every pint they can get.

  • rate this

    Comment number 581.

    What you do with your own body is up you alone.

    I respect that someone may choose to have a tattoo with significant personal meaning.

    The vast majority though seem to be done rather flippantly, simply as decoration or status symbol, undertaken as lightly as a wacky hair cut or spray tan. Dumb.

    Personally, I find most of them ugly and boring, something that negates the beauty of the human form.

  • rate this

    Comment number 580.

    I personally only have one small treble clef tattoo on my shoulder. i dont regret it, but dont want any more. However, I am a big fan of good tattoo and many of my friends have large parts of their bodies covered in fantastic work. Dots on your knuckles and tears on your face are a different thing. People have tattoos for many reasons, some better than otrhers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 579.

    My favourite tattoo was seen on the internet. Someone had lost their big toe, and inscribed above the missing toe was "Gone to market. Back soon. Love pig."

    I don't have strong feelings either way about tattoos, but have never seen one I liked enough to go ahead with it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 578.

    @doggrell3000 I take it you don't get out much. That is the most uninformed thing I've read all year. And I don't even have a tattoo.

  • rate this

    Comment number 577.

    I think of tattoos as package labeling that tend to conform quite well to truth-in-advertising laws.

  • rate this

    Comment number 576.

    Just as dumb and oh so conventional are the pirate rings in a man's ear, or any kind of piercing for that matter. Usually, those people also wear some tattoo too!

  • rate this

    Comment number 575.

    In 1997 I had the Japanese/Chinese character for flower tattooed on my upper left arm and I've never regretted it.

    I studied Japanese at university, so it is a symbol of my link with Japan, although Tattoos are frowned upon there as they are popular with the Yakuza (Japanese mafia). This means that hot springs & pools often forbid tattooed people entry, but as a foreigner I still get in!

  • rate this

    Comment number 574.

    I think an article on tattoos used in medicine would have been more interesting. My mother had breast cancer and before her radiotherapy treatment she had two very small dots tattooed on her breast. Now she jokes about having tattoos on her breasts. She never had to have a mastectomy thankfully but I did read that tattoos can in some cases be inked over mastectomy scars.

  • rate this

    Comment number 573.

    My first tour of duty (1969-72) in the U.S. Army was in Special Forces equivalent to the SAS Regiment. Tattoos were discouraged if one didn't have one because it was very difficult to pass oneself off in covert operations as a Bosnia Muslim or an Albanian in Serbia or other areas of the world if one had a tattoo in English stating 'Death from Above' or other themes common to American units.

  • rate this

    Comment number 572.

    tattoos are the mark of a tacky person . often they are a sign of prostitution . people that get tattoos have serious personal identity conflicts . tattoos are similar to the ridiculous impulse that some people have for wearing loud or garish clothing . such people have a need to express themselves overtly because they feel unable to communicate in a normal circumstance .

  • rate this

    Comment number 571.

    I have I Love you uncle on my right hand and now I hate my uncle and just wish I could get it removed.But have heard removal is terribly painful so instead wear fingerless gloves- a kind of Michael Jackson look gone a bit wrong!

  • Comment number 570.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 569.

    it is very interesting to me that people without tattoos should view people who have them as ugly, or stupid, or that they will inevitably regret them. who are you to judge me? I don't remark on your choice of clothes, hair or lifestyle, and that you see fit to do this to me shows you to be a shallow, narrow minded person. live and let live.

  • rate this

    Comment number 568.

    I've got a small tattoo on my wrist. I got it when I was 18. In many ways it was an act of defiance. I was sure I'd never regret it: a tattoo is a lot less embarrassing to explain than self-harm scars. Just like the scars I became apt at covering it up when I don't want it to be seen, and proudly display it when I don't care what people think.

  • rate this

    Comment number 567.

    I'm sure the pretty girls with tattoos will be absolutely devastated to have lost the interest of the middle-aged men leering at them. How patronising.

  • rate this

    Comment number 566.

    Tattoos are faddish and people who have them are like sheep. In the sixties, the only people who had tattoos were a few dumb sailors and some ex-cons. You never saw any women with tattoos at all. The majority of people are like me. We look at tattoos and think - yuk - you stupid sod!

  • rate this

    Comment number 565.

    I have never liked tattoos and never will. I find it ridiculous when people say having them makes them unique - no you make you unique. So many people have them now it is far more original to be remain tattooless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 564.

    It's always fun reading the comments on a story about tattoos. There are the inevitable comments about unflawed skin, and the ones saying "herp derp not having a tattoo is more 'rebellious' than having one", and of course the people full of self loathing about getting a butterfly tattooed in the 'tramp stamp' location.

    God, the comments are more predictable than the article.

  • rate this

    Comment number 563.

    A rather sad little hatchet job on tattooing and a set of comments full of the usual stereotypical reactions from the usual suspects with about as much imagination,individuality and spirit as the average cucumber..


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