I’ll come right out and say it – don’t hold your breath if you’re here to read anything particularly contrarian or bigoted. I think I can safely say that most people who visit this blog like tattoos, many have tattoos, and even more are either thinking of getting their first tattoo or getting more tattoos than they already have. And I’d be the first person to argue that there’s far more pros to getting a tattoo (that you actually want to get), than there are cons, and most cons are relatively insignificant and easily refuted.

However, when making choices, it helps to have pros and cons to consider. Weighing your options objectively lets you come to an honest conclusion about what you really want to do. It lets you consider whether there are any serious risks to the whole thing, and whether those risks are anything you care about.

Let’s get right down to it, then, and discuss some of the cons of getting yourself inked.

Some People Are Discriminatory

The biggest problem when getting a tattoo is making sure you’re the kind of person who can get over the fact that you aren’t always going to receive the warmest welcome or make the best possible first impression after getting a tattoo. You and the majority of people generally don’t care at worst, or love tattoos at best, but there will still be a minority of people who will see your tattoos and immediately lump you into a scary, creaky drawer labeled ‘bad or stupid people’.

These likely won’t be people you want to deal with for a long time, but they can be potential clients or customers, close relatives you need to see at least a couple of times a year, or even old friends. And even if they’re neither of these things, their judging looks, and annoying comments can become very grating very quickly and wear your patience thin.

Incidentally, you’ll want to develop a tougher, thicker skin if you want to get visible tattoos, or anything even remotely controversial (either due to the subject of the tattoo itself or its location). Facial tattoos in particular might draw the most looks.

This might not be a con for you if you don’t really interact with many people that far out of your own circles and are surrounded by supportive and loving people rather than very rigid, conservative types.

Tattoos Make a ‘Certain’ Impression

Lumped in with the discriminatory crowd, your tattoos might not immediately lead people to label you as stupid or inept, but they might suppose other things of you as a result of your skin art, or automatically attribute certain things to you, not out of malice, but out of a ‘normal’ habit of subconscious stereotyping. It’s kind of like how some people might think it isn’t racist to assume that all East Asians are gifted mathematicians, regardless of background or upbringing.

The most egregious example of tattoo stereotyping is the tattooed woman as more promiscuous. There are several articles as well as genuine surveys and questionnaires providing ‘deep’ insight into just how widespread that belief is – and that certain tattoos, placements, and factors (such as tattoo subject matter or size) determine ‘sluttiness’. Worse yet, when it comes to sexual attractiveness, surveys show that men find women less attractive with tattoos, but more promiscuous. This isn’t just specifically pertaining to women – people in general are rated less attractive, less sexy, less spiritual, less respectable, less intelligent, and less healthy if they have tattoos. However, they are rated more rebellious.

Again, in other words? People make quick judgments, stereotype, and can be generally really shitty about tattoos. You’ll have to learn not to care.

Not Everyone’s Skin Is Tattoo Ready

There are three major worries one should have when thinking about tattoos and physical health: the quality and nature of the ink, the reputation and hygiene of the tattoo parlor/artist’s place, and your own experience with skin healing and scarring.

The first are solved by asking a couple of basic questions and making sure you do your prior research. That means knowing who you want to go to in order to get inked long before you actually enter their shop for the appointment you made. And it means asking them about the ink that they use and doing your own due diligence about what is and isn’t something you’ll want injected into the deeper layers of your skin.

The third is a bit tougher to address, though. Some people are more prone to hefty hypertrophic scars than others, and if you’ve ever gotten scarred, you’ll know what that means. Scars heal in many different ways (Tattoos over scars) and some of those are more obvious than others – hypertrophic scars and keloid scars occur when the collagen used to help repair broken and damaged skin tissue is overproduced by the body, resulting in large growths in response to physical trauma.

Tattoos count as physical trauma and may aggravate or even cause keloids and other such scars. This can not only ruin your tattoo, but it can get worse with time, especially if further aggravated. See if you have any family history of keloid scarring or hypertrophic scarring and go see a dermatologist to make sure your skin is ready and safe to be tattooed if it’s something you’re concerned about. This might also be a good time to review your medical history to check for any allergies that might get triggered through tattoo ink.

Tattoo Designs Can Carry Negative Connotations

You should know what you’re inking on yourself, and better yet, you should know whether it can be misinterpreted or used to put you in some seriously hot water. Even something that would seem entirely innocuous or just really cool in the west, like a huge tattoo of the Buddha, can get you deported or formally reprimanded in countries like Thailand or Sri Lanka. While there are courts that have compensated people that have been deported, you should bear in mind that it might be culturally insensitive.

A more muddled example is the use of Norse and Germanic imagery. There’s a lot of cool motifs in Norse culture, including a variety of runes, figures, and artifacts. But some of these have been coopted by some rather nasty individuals, which can spoil the fun a little. You can choose to own the symbol anyway, or shy away from it if it’s a connotation you’d rather want to avoid.

There might be some other reasons to avoid getting a tattoo. Maybe it’s prohibitively expensive. Maybe you have a boss who is very anti-tattoo, and it’s a job you can’t afford to lose. Maybe you live in a country where getting a tattoo could get you lynched. Tattoos are worth fighting for, but they’re something you should put a lot of thought into as well.