Women More Likely To Remove Tattoos

I see a lot of tattoos in clinic. They tend to be of three varities: old men with vintage war-time tattoos, young men with authentic NBA-style tattoos, and women who want to know how they can get rid of their tattoos.

It might be that despite there are increasing numbers of women getting tattoos (some reports claim that 65% of people who get tattoos are women), there is also more social pressure for women to remove them.

A study published in the Archives of Dermatology seems to support this. The study interviewed nearly 200 people. They asked people why they got the tattoo and why they wanted them removed. They compared answers from a study done in 1996 to 2006. In 1996, more men requested tattoo removal than women. However, in 2006 most of the tattoo removal request were in women (nearly 70%).

The researchers found that women with tattoos typically were white, single, college educated, and with moderate to strong religious beliefs. According to the study authors, women got tattoos “to be unique” and liked the sense of both both femininity and power it gave them.

However, they found that women were much more likely to report stigma problems as compared to men. They were also more likely to say that they hid the tattoo and that they felt that they no longer wanted it because they “grew up.” Careers were also a significant reason for women to want their tattoos removed. Other reasons why women wanted tattoos removed were embarrassment, problems with clothes, and negative comments.

It is interesting that historically, tattoos were associated with men, but now more than half of people who get tattoos are women. At the same time, women are more likely to experience negative social consequences and be more likely to want their tattoo removed as compared to men.

Tattoos are an ancient body art. They are often beautiful, and the majority of people who have tattoos are satisfied with them. It is unfortunate that there is more negative social consequences to having a tattoo if you are a woman as compared to men. The fact that a tattoo on a women’s lower back is sometimes referred to as a “tramp stamp” is an example of this stigma. As tattoos become more popular for women, perhaps negative societal stereotypes will fade away.

If you do want to remove a tattoo, see a physicain. Creams and balms advertised to remove tattoos do not work.

6 thoughts on “Women More Likely To Remove Tattoos

  1. Several of my friends got tattoos when we were younger. I can now say with certainty (and relief) that I sure am glad I never got one!

  2. Dr. B,
    How are the results for laser tattoo removal? As I understand it, black tattoos remove easier than other colors. After undergoing treatments, will the skin look as good as new? Is the laser technology continually improving? Thank you so much for such an educational blog.

  3. @Breitling
    I am a 40 year old woman with a large tattoo on my shoulder. I have no regrets whatsoever. I have many women friends my age or older who also have tattoos and do not regret them.

  4. Count me in as one of the regreters. I have two tattoos I’m so ashamed of now. And they’re small ones at that. I got mine due to low self esteem. I’m fat – actually “morbidly obese” (237 pounds, I should weigh 135 pounds) – and have heard all my life how ugly I am. How I’m “a beast” and get messages on MySpace about how I’ll never make it as a singer because, even though I’m talented, I’m “too fat and ugly to be an American Idol.” So I got two rose tattoos because “I want something about me to be pretty.”

    Now I just want them gone!

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