What Would It Take For You To Remove Tattoos That You Actually Love?

One of my more recent tattoos -- I love it, but would I remove it for someone else?

I got my first tattoo on my wrist. I was 18 years old and my reason for getting it there was to ensure that I never got a “real” job. In other words, I wanted to avoid the corporate world, the mundane existence that comes with doing something you hate and really strive to make it as a writer. So far so good.

Although I only have 13 tattoos at the moment (with plans to probably get a handful more), I’ve never thought about having them removed. It’s occasionally crossed my mind that maybe I won’t want an armful of Nabokov butterflies when I’m 85, but since that’s over half a century away, I won’t waste good brainpower on it now. But if I did decide to have any of them removed, it would be my decision and mine alone — no one else gets to have a say in the matter. Sorry, mom. I know you hate them.

With the job situation being as unstable as it is, the unemployed and tattooed all over the world are taking hiding their tattoos from potential new employers from just using make-up to actually having them lasered off. In Japan recent college graduates are running to clinics to get tattoos removed so as to procure employment because the government has no place for tattooed employees. This is also becoming a theme in the private sector as well and has led to a 20% boost in first-time tattoo removal patients. Even here in the States tattoo removal has gone up 32% since last year in the name of getting employment. But doesn’t all this go against the point of tattooing? Aren’t tattoos meant to be a personal expression, a piece of art on your body’s canvas that may or may not have any significance, but since it’s your skin you can do with it what you choose and others be damned?

I love all my tattoos. I even love the stupid one on my ankle I also got at 18 because although it’s nothing I’d get now, it represents the person I was then. I wouldn’t remove them for anyone or any reason outside of myself just simply changing my mind one day and waltzing into a tattoo removal clinic. They’re part of me, and an essential piece of my personality and how I convey myself to the world around me.

What would it take for you to remove the tattoos you love? Would you remove yours for someone or something else? Would you remove them if it guaranteed you a job? Even if you loved your tattoos with you all your heart?

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    • Melissa

      Possible edit needed?

      “I got my first tattoo on my wrist. I was 19 years old and my reason for getting it there was to insure that I never got a “real” job.”

      “I even love the stupid one on my ankle I got at 18 because although it’s nothing I’d get now, it represents the person I was then.”

      • Amanda Chatel


      • Jenny

        Melissa – maybe if you are going to edit others’ work you should also note that it’s “ensure” not “insure”.

        Sorry, Chatel. I wasn’t going to say anything, but I figured that if she felt like her editorial skills were so good, she deserved to be shown they aren’t.

      • Amanda Chatel

        I love you, Jenny… you snarky li’l thing. I’m fixin’ up my in/ensure now. Merci.

    • BeccaTheCyborg

      I took my labret out for work. Beyond that, I don’t think anything would get me to remove any of mine. But then, I also can’t work because my body doesn’t really cooperate a lot, so.

    • Maggie

      No. No way. My tattoos are a part of me, and if someone today still has a stupid prejudice against tattoos, cause let’s face it, almost everyone has tattoos now, then that is their problem. If someone is going to discriminate against a great potential employee because of their body art, I wouldn’t want to work for them anyway!

    • Jamie Peck

      How much money are we talking? I love my tattoos, but I might do it for like a million dollars or something. I’d work there until I had enough money to live off of for the rest of my life, then I’d quit and get my tattoos back. Fantasy!

      • Amanda Chatel

        Fantasies are fun!

      • Sam

        I was gonna respond in an almost identical way, haha. Or I’d just relocate all my favorite tattoos to places that wouldn’t be shown regularly like my torso…which is where most of them are, anyways.

    • Ms. Pants

      I got my first one (and only, thus far, but I have plans!) this year at the ripe (!!) age of 36. It’s a vine of devil’s ivy going from the hairline on my neck, down my spine. (It stops short of my ass crack and looks like it’s growing out of a slit in my skin instead.) I thought of the idea 15 years ago. Finally did it this year. I wouldn’t get rid of it for anything less than 8 digits of cash, lump sum, with a caveat that I could get it redone afterwards.

      • Amanda Chatel

        Congrats, Ms. Pants! Why did you wait so long to get one?

      • Ms. Pants

        A combination of things, really. Not sure if I wanted anything permanent. Didn’t like the sound the tattoo gun makes. Fear of pain. Fear of hating it later. Didn’t know who to go to. Wasn’t sure it would look right. Blah blah blah. The ivy was something a friend of mine spoke of when I was still in college. For years, I thought of it as *her* tattoo, even though she never had it done. (She loves that I have it, btw.)

        I finally realised that I was drawing the vine on all my figure drawings and that it was finally *my* tattoo. Still took a while for the fear n’ such to go away. I knew I was going to get it last October once I finished up chemo/radiation (I’m fine now) and that I wanted Devil’s Ivy cos that shit never dies. Had to find an artist and draw up a sketch. Queue more procrastination.

        Once I found the artist, it was bam-bam-bam. I went in after researching him, made the appt for the next day, paid in full with tip, showed up the next day, and sat for it. It didn’t hurt (I quite enjoyed it), the sound didn’t freak me out, he had a light hand, and I’m absolutely in love with it.

        And now I have a list of other ones I want to get. Just waiting for the tattoo-piggy-bank to fatten up enough for my next one… and the one after that… and the one after that….


      • Amanda Chatel

        It didn’t hurt?!? Hold the phones! Are you made of iron?

        When I got the one on my thigh last month, they had to put a bucket in front of me because they thought I was going to throw up from the pain. My arms weren’t too bad, but they still definitely hurt.

        More like Ms. Iron Pants…

      • Ms. Pants

        It stung in a place or two but it never *hurt.* When he did my neck, I practically purred. Told him he could colour my entire neck in black cos it felt so nice. Like scratching a really good itch. The odd thing was that while he was working on the middle of my back, I could feel the needle in my lower back. (He said this is common.) It was trippy and I think that kept it from hurting–I was too fascinated by it.

        My guy’s apprentice also said before he even started that my tattooer had a light hand. I think that makes a huge difference. My friend got the NYC skyline done across her back just below her neck (one continuous line–very simple, GORGEOUS) yesterday and she said it hurt like fuck.

        I might have a high tolerance for pain. I never winced for any of my piercings either (even though I certainly FELT them). I think it’s more that I built the anxiety up so much that when it actually happens, it’s nothing near as bad as I psyched myself up to believe it would be.

        I did have to make my guy stop in the very beginning cos the adrenaline rush hit me so hard I thought I was going to vomit. (Happened after my piercings too.) But I think his light hand and my crazy brain psyching myself up were a good combo for no pain for me. He was quick too. Only took 2 hours.

        It will be interesting to see what happens when I get another one. I’m thinking my next will be behind my ear, which I anticipate will hurt like a mofukka. (And the noise! Urgh!)

      • Amanda Chatel

        Wow. Well, now I’m even more impressed… purring? Wow.

        You do realize someone is going to read your comment, get a tattoo that fucking hurts then come back here and tell you that you’re a real jerk, right? Then you will know what it’s like to be hated by strangers on a daily basis like me! Fun!

      • Ms. Pants

        Been there, yelled at. My friend who got hers yesterday did not agree that it was like a really irritating, over-scratched bug bite in areas.


        Also, stranger-hatred ain’t new to me. Bring it on, bishes. I got a finger on each hand and a big ole smile for ya!

    • Elwarr

      Kat Von D makes a concealer specifically for tattoos. Anyone try it?

      Also Japan has a complicated history with tattoos.


      • Sam

        I have! I used it a little bit on one of mine and it worked fairly well (I think it’s best for colored ones and smaller pieces). But is IS goddamned fantastic for dark circles!

    • Sarah

      I could never do it. I’ll hide them, sure. I have no problem hiding my tattoos for a job (though I wish it wasn’t necessary). But having them removed? Won’t do it. I love them beyond reason and they are a part of me.

      Plus, practical reasons: It’s insanely expensive, takes loads of sessions, and I’ve heard that laser removal hurts a HELL of a lot worse than actually getting the tattoo. I already cried getting the tattoo on my spine and collarbone. I do not want worse pain to get rid of them for someone else.

    • Amandaa

      If one of my friends, family, or my boyfriend asked me to remove my tattoo (it’s an eye on my back just below my neck)…I definitely wouldn’t. If it stood in the way of my dream job, however, I would. Although, I do work in a government office (in Canada) – half the people here have tattoos and it isn’t a problem!