I've always wanted a tattoo. I sketched out a few designs from celtic knots when I was in high school and had around 9 that I wanted, just didn't know where I could put them on my body since I wanted in discreet places that could be shown if I wanted to (example on the thigh or between the shoulder blades) and not on the lower back above the butt crack or the wrist as are popular places nowadays.
I was determined in my early college years to get one since I was already 18, but found that piercings were 1. cheaper, and 2. not as permanent. I got a few piercings (all of which were easily spotted when looking at me, nothing hidden in crazy places) and dyed my hair funky colours.
I'm still determined to get that tattoo at some point or another, but depending upon who I talk to about it, I get different responses. I did research on the historical meanings behind body piercing and alterations, and there's many fascinating aspects to both that may be unknown to most people... at least that I know.
Tattoos have been around for centuries and used for many different reasons from documenting spiritual journeys to simple adornment. Sometimes, like in old Japan, it was a symbol of a gangster - a trouble maker that was part of a feared clan, but these tattoos were under the clothes, restricted to below the neck, wrists, and above the ankles. They left such an impression so that even in modern Japan tattoo's are looked down upon. There are public places that don't allow tattooed people into pools or public baths still.
Other tattoos cite rites of passage amongst their clansmen, like entering manhood or a marriage. Some cultures women get facial tattoos to make them more appealing to a prospective husband, where we in a Western culture would find them to be ugly and appaling.
Henna is a form of temporary tattooing that is commonly found in Indian culture and used to make women more appealing and decorated for their wedding day and other important occasions. When I bought a henna kit and did some on myself, I recall my mother, a baby boomer, exclaimed "what's that dirt all over your hands?" I guess that gives another meaning to one man's trash is another man's treasure... one man's beauty is another man's scar...
So tattoos have come from the taboo mark of "the heavy-metal rockers, bikers, criminals and the social outcast" (http://www.biblebelievers.com/watkins_tattoos/intro.html) to pop culture that even Barbie has decided to join the fun. Everyone has a reason for or against tattooing, like this guy or these people, but always have a good reason behind what you believe before getting in argument with someone about their tattoos, especially these guys. It's understandable that they can be rather intimidating, since most tattoos are associated with the "scum of the earth" and the "bad guys", like in prison , but there are calmer and more demure reasons as well.
In my opinion, tattoos are an interesting way to show your love of your culture or background (all my designs are of celtic descent, as am I), memorialize a loved one who's passed away, or just adorn the blank slate that is human flesh. Whatever your opinion, it's out there and it's unavoidable. Every tattoo has a story, all you have to do is ask.