16tattoos2-img-articleLargeA 2011 Net Cotton Content post on tattoo attracted more reader comments than any other post.

(Later "This Old Heart" broke that record.)
With regard to tattoos, here is the original post, "Skin Deep." 

When I speak with anyone under 90 on the subject,
I discourage them from getting a tattoo.

My opinions — and, even more strident, my recommendations — draw complaints of my cultural incompetent and prejudice.

These accusations have merit. I admit that — when I see a tattoo, I think I know something about the person. What I think I know is surely inaccurate, or at least incomplete. I instantly write a narrative about the person based on the tattoo rather than the more substantial aspects of their character and experience. That's prejudice. I'm guilty.

If you want to read some of these complaints, here is "Tattoo, redo," a follow-up post on the comments.

But this isn't about that.

Another Bottle Washes Up On Shore
This is just my same old message in a bottle: don't get a tattoo.

Why this message again now?

This week's story in The New York Times, "Cycling: A Reminder Of Personal Connections, Not Tarnished Brand," is a clear argument for — and, no doubt, for — tattoo. (It's also a great use of the word "brand," drawing on its every meaning.)

Sports reporter Mary Pilon offers a soulful story about intelligent, articulate, highly motivated people who wear various tattoos of LIVESTRONG. They have inked the highest legacy of Lance Armstrong into their skin.

Now, of course, the stain of doping and his lifelong disqualification and ban is blended with the ink.

LIVESTRONG = Worthy Message
Is "LIVESTRONG" a valid, meaningful, important message? Of course it is.

But this isn't about the LIVESTRONG message. This is about the medium.

Two questions:

  • Would anyone get a LIVESTRONG tattoo today? I'm not asking: is LIVESTRONG a wonderful message? I'm asking: would anyone get a LIVESTRONG tattoo today? Really?


  • Would you want to start every conversation for the rest of your life — once your tattoo is spied — with a quick review of the fall of the world's greatest sports hero?

Imagine the last words you hear, 75 years from now, spoken by your great-grandchild, standing at your deathbed: "Grandmother[father], so do you think Lance doped?")

The main reason to delay your tattoo by one day — perpetually delaying the tattoo by another day — is this: everything changes. 

Still thinking of getting a tattoo?
Wait another day.

Even if you already have one. Or 100. Wait another day.

The meaning of any name, word or icon will change. Stay flexible. Avoid the ink.