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.