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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: You blew it when you advised the mother who signed herself "Unhappy Down South." Her college-aged daughter had come home with a small tattoo of an eye on her ankle. You reminded her that the ankle belonged to her daughter.

Abby, our son got his first tattoo when he was 17. His father and I thought it was just a fad. Well, today that son is 52 years old, and he is covered from neck to knees with tattoos, which include a naked lady on his stomach that reaches down each leg, and a large Mexican woman on his back wearing a sombrero. Abby, if you don't think that's embarrassing, try carrying him to a doctor or hospital.

Please tell that poor lady to see to it that her daughter's tattoo is removed, even if she has to be strapped down! And it might be well to use the strap in a few other places, too.

Decent, respectable people simply do not approve of tattoos. -- TATTOO TABOO IN BROWNWOOD, TEXAS

DEAR T.T.: Begging your pardon, but an adult offspring -- male or female -- has the right to make his or her own decisions concerning tattoos. Also, please do not presume to speak for all decent and respectable people.

In addition, to suggest that a strap be used in "a few other places" makes you guilty of condoning physical violence. The advice from here is, "Back off."

Read on for a letter from a reader in Brooklyn:

DEAR ABBY: This is in response to "Unhappy Down South" who is upset about her daughter's tattoo on her ankle.

A year and a half ago, I underwent 36 days of radiation for breast cancer. The area to be radiated had to be encircled by tattoos in order to leave a permanent "map" for the radiologist -- to prevent any future radiation treatments from overlapping the original site.

How nice it would have been to be tattooed by choice rather than necessity. I surely would have preferred an "eye" on my ankle to a series of black marks on my chest as a reminder of what I'd like to forget.

So, to "Unhappy Down South": Please be grateful that your daughter is well and happy -- let her enjoy her life.

Please get your priorities straight. I did. -- MRS. JULIE KERR, BROOKLYN, N.Y.

DEAR JULIE: Yours was a very sobering letter. I wish you a complete recovery.

DEAR ABBY: I am a young girl who made the dumb mistake of having black eyeliner tattooed on my upper and lower eyelids. I hate it now and have called around trying to find someone who can remove tattoos, and can't find anyone who will attempt to remove tattoos from eyelids because it's too dangerous.

Do you know anyone in Orange County, Calif., who could undo this eyeliner? If not, I hope this will serve to warn other girls not to be as hasty as I was. Please answer in the paper because I can't receive mail at home; my family may see it and say, "We told you not to do it." -- FOOLISH AND SORRY

DEAR FOOLISH AND SORRY: Unfortunately, I know of no way to remove tattooed eyeliner. My best recommendation would be to conceal the offending eyeliner with a product used to cover blemishes, freckles or an unsightly discoloration. Inquire at the cosmetic counter of your local department store. I recommend Covermark and Dermablend.

Everything you'll need to know about planning a wedding can be found in Abby's booklet, "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." To order, send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

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