I have never had the desire to get a tattoo. I grew up in a Navy family and saw hundreds of tattoos on my dad's friends and other guys around the base. My father had a small tattoo on his upper arm. It was a series of Japanese characters. In his youth, he had taken judo classes while stationed in Japan. The class graduation had consisted of getting all the students drunk and then tattooing the school's name on their arms. At least that's what they told him they tattooed on his arm. We should have had a Japanese speaker double check.
Tattoos were not popular with my high school or college crowd. In high school it was all about your hair, and college it was all about your clothes. Body modification had not made their way into the mainstream. I managed to slide into adulthood with nothing more than a few scars, and a couple broken hearts.
I have seen some tattoos that I like. They are generally on women, and they are always small. I think a cute little heart or butterfly strategically placed can be attractive and appealing. Tattoos that are normally hidden and must be discovered are best.
What surprises me are the tattoos that are so large or placed so prominently that they just cannot be missed. Walking through the mall, you can see high school kids with drawing on their arms, legs, faces, necks. Words seem like a bad idea, especially names. What happens when "Jennifer" or "Jose" no longer mean the same thing to you. What happens when "No Fear" seems like a trite phrase? I saw a girl the other day with a dog collar tattooed around her neck. I doubt she has thought through the consequences of her artistic expression.
Tonight on the National Geographic channel is a special called Taboo : Tattoo that looks at tattoos in a historical and sociological context. I would watch it if my cable company offered that channel, but I doubt it would change my mind.