The whole Internet is freaking out today over some photos showing Reese Witherspoon on the beach with a tiny sliver of a stomach tattoo showing. Popeater called it “a large tattoo,” while TheFrisky wondered, “what will her tattoo look like at seven months pregnant?” I thought this would be a good opportunity to discuss some of the statements being made and clear up some misconceptions about the practice of inking one’s skin.

1.) Stomach tattoos fucking hurt. I know because I got one, and it felt like my artist was drilling right into my ovaries in search of eggs. Think about how ticklish your belly is; that’s because there are mad nerve endings there. A little bit of ink fell out on one side and I don’t even care, because I am never putting myself through that much pain again until I have children. This is coming from someone who’s working on sleeving out both arms. I can sit for upwards of four hours for an arm sesh, but I’d rather color it in with a Sharpie each day than get my stomach tattooed for one more minute. Which is all to say: Reese Witherspoon just got way more bad ass in my eyes.

2.) Not all tattoos are meant to “be rebellious” or “get attention.” The fact that Reese tends to keep hers covered means that she got it primarily for herself. She probably also knew that people would react obnoxiously.

3.) Stomach tattoos aren’t necessarily ruined by pregnancy if your skin is elastic enough and you moisturize regularly. For instance, Suicidegirls model Twwly kept a photo diary of her tattoos’ changes during pregnancy, and they bounced back amazingly. Yes, even the ones on her stomach. In case you’re wondering, here is what she recommends:

Drink a minimum of 2L of water daily (which you are supposed to do anyway) and use an oil based moisturizer. I used Clarins Tonic Oil 1-2x per day. Massage-y goodness! I would think almost any oil (most lotions contain alcohol which is drying) would be good also.

4.) All this talk of Reese going against her “good girl” image is grating. Sure, tattoos have a history of being loved by social outcasts, but it’s 2011. Tattooing has been legal in the U.S. for quite some time, and more than 45 million Americans and over a third of 18-25-year-olds have at least one tattoo. They don’t really tell you anything about a person at this point. In fact, the most heavily tattooed friend I have (a tattoo artist) is probably also the most anal retentive. She is obsessed with detail and cleanliness, which she needs to be, because she sticks needles in people all day long. Also, she was valedictorian of her high school class and all her teachers loved her. What a rebel!

5.) That is not a “large tattoo,” people. I realize it’s subjective what constitutes “large” and “small,” but if that thing were any smaller it would be invisible to the naked eye.