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?