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by Abigail Van Buren

Some Thought Should Go in Before Any Tattoo Goes On

DEAR ABBY: In response to "Sorry in Maine," the woman who went to a tattoo parlor with a girlfriend and left with a rose about the size of a half-dollar tattooed on her shoulder: She thought it was so cool, she went back a week later and had another rose tattooed on the outside of her ankle.

What a coincidence! I, too, have a rose tattooed on my ankle and I love it. I put a lot of thought into getting a tattoo because I knew it was a permanent decision. Unlike "Sorry in Maine," I have never regretted it.

But I have a word of advice for anyone who wants a tattoo. Circumstances change, so never have someone's name tattooed on any part of your body. -- NEEDLED IN FORT WORTH

DEAR NEEDLED: Sounds like good advice to me -- right to the point. (Sorry, I couldn't resist it.) However, before doing anything irreversible to one's body, one should give it plenty of serious thought.

Read on for a letter in a similar vein:

DEAR ABBY: I never thought I'd be writing to you, but I have seen nothing but negative comments in your column about tattoos on women. I just had to write on my own behalf -- and I'm sure there are many other women who do not regret their tattoos.

Before I got one, I thought long and hard, then asked my husband if he'd mind. He said, "It's your body." So I searched and searched until I found a tattoo artist who did the kind of work I liked. I decided on a 2-by-4-inch tiger in blue, because I'm a cat lover. After it healed, I got a small tattoo of red and blue roses on my forearm.

I suspect the reason many people regret getting tattoos is because they did it on a dare or when they were under the influence.

I took my time, realizing this was something that would be with me forever. I would never have another person's name or initials tattooed on myself.

I was 40 when I got my first tattoo, and have heard only two nasty remarks from men. One was from my father, who thought I was nuts. The other was from a male who does not deserve mention. Someday I plan to get a third tattoo, although I have not yet decided what it will be. -- TATTOO MARY IN OTTUMWA, IOWA

DEAR TATTOO MARY: The majority of those who responded to the letter from "Sorry in Maine" were not in favor of tattoos for anyone; but since you are an adult who made an informed decision, I say good for you.

Some readers mentioned that a temporary tattoo is also available, lasts through showering and swimming, and can be removed with a special cream. (It's an excellent way for people to satisfy their curiosity with no permanent consequences.)

Some employers revealed that "a good overall appearance" tops their list of expectations for potential employees, and they would be less likely to hire people with visible tattoos. While acknowledging that their bias may be unfair, they associated a lower level of performance with people wearing tattoos.