Best place for a tattoo?
May 5, 2006 6:03 AM   Subscribe

I'm thinking about getting a tattoo. I need help deciding where to put it.

I want to get a small (quarter-sized) tattoo as a surprise for my fiance. I've already decided what I want, but the tricky thing is where to put it. I know that my body is going to change, especially as I get older, have kids, etc.

It needs to be:

a) not visible to mom, dad, boss, etc.
b) a place that is least likely to stretch it out or get wrinkled (I know this may happen anywhere, but I'd like to minimize the possibility)
c) still a relatively sexy location

I thought about maybe my hip area, but I'm not sure if that area is more likely to stretch or not. Anyone have any ideas?
posted by saucy to Grab Bag (31 answers total)
You could always get a blacklight tattoo, that way it's more or less invisible if it does end up stretching out.
posted by awesomebrad at 6:07 AM on May 5, 2006

Big toe

Try to avoid a ho tat. I mean in terms of location, not content.
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:18 AM on May 5, 2006

Check out bmezine. Lots of answers to questions like this.

Blacklight tattoos have not been around very long and there are questions as to their safety.

Areas that are least likely to stretch are ones that haven't already (think your ankles, the back of your neck, etc.). The lower back might be a good area too and most people think it's sexy.

The most important thing to consider is the size of your tattoo. If it's very intricate, or even a little intricate, a quarter sized tattoo will not look very good nor will it stand the test of time. If it's something very simple, it might be okay. Only your tattoo artist will be able to tell you for sure upon seeing your design. Go with his recommendation, don't 'make' him give you what you want. It will only look bad down the road and you'll regret your decision.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 6:20 AM on May 5, 2006

The lower back might be a good area too and most people think it's sexy.

Oh, my link failed, but that's what I mean by ho tat.
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:26 AM on May 5, 2006

I have a small tattoo of a crescent moon on my ankle, and I got it 14 years ago (holy crap, time flies). It's discreet, and back when I cared, it was easily covered with a band-aid. I've been in the NYC professional world (non-profit) for 5 years, and no one seems to care one way or the other. However, the ankle is supposedly very delicate and a tender place to get a tattoo. It didn't bother me, but I was warned repeatedly before I actually got mine.
posted by kimdog at 6:27 AM on May 5, 2006

ass antlers...
posted by Dreamghost at 6:28 AM on May 5, 2006

Blacklight tattoos have not been around very long and there are questions as to their safety.

The FDA seems to think they're fine.

Oh, my link failed, but that's what I mean by ho tat.

...also known as the tramp stamp. I think the hip's a great location for something that sze, personally.
posted by Jairus at 6:29 AM on May 5, 2006

I've been thinking about it too, actually.

Here's my list of possible locations:

Right forearm/wrist (Highly visible, but so cool. Man, so cool.)
Shoulder blade (Invisible... but to you, too!)
Back of neck/in between shoulder blades (see ab
[click to check the spelling in your post] ove)
Calf (Discreet, but only if you don't like shorts.)

I'm of the male persuasion, though, so my priorities are a little different. Keep in mind, if you get one on your left wrist, you can probably hide it with a watch.
posted by Drunken_munky at 6:30 AM on May 5, 2006

IANATWearer but think somewhere right down at the base of the back, kind of just above bottom of the spine, but below the waistband, is pretty cool, presumably won't stretch too much as there's not much fat over the bone, and is invisible unless you're hangin' low.
posted by penguin pie at 6:30 AM on May 5, 2006

on your ribcage, under your armpit, at boob-height. or i know of someone who got her husband's intials on her upper inner thigh. also, small tattoos do not age well, in general (the lines get muddy).
posted by unknowncommand at 6:31 AM on May 5, 2006

God dammit, dragged spellcheck into text area. Sorry, it's far too early for accurate mousing
posted by Drunken_munky at 6:32 AM on May 5, 2006

On the sole or the top of your foot.
Inner arm (bicep.)
Back of the arm above your elbow (short sleeve would cover.)
Wrist, where a watch would cover it.
posted by fire&wings at 6:34 AM on May 5, 2006

If it's going to be that small, keep it really, really simple. Don't know how old you are, but in terms of areas that change shape as you age, it's safe to say that hips and belly are the areas MOST likely to change.
posted by desuetude at 6:36 AM on May 5, 2006

(female here) I have a quarter-sized tattoo on the back of my neck about level with my shoulders. Most shirts -- especially professional shirts with a collar -- cover it with room to spare; medium length hair would also keep it covered. I take no care to disguise it, and most people in my office never remember it's there.

FWIW, I think a sexy and unusual spot for tattoos is behind the ears; I've seen pairs of cherries, small stars or blossoms back there that look adorable, but I think it's too much ink for someone who works in an office setting like me.
posted by junkbox at 6:42 AM on May 5, 2006

Back of the neck - above the collar line. It can be hidden by hair.

I have a rather large one on my ankle & only recently started showing it at work (warmer weather, skirts). I have not gotten any negative response so far, only a few looks - which I can ignore. Why are tattoos considered unprofessional anyway? I've always hated that.
posted by Alpenglow at 6:48 AM on May 5, 2006

I've got a tattoo on my upper arm, just below my shoulder which can be covered with anything except a tank top. I don't think that area (top of arm, not bottom) is very prone to stretching and people only see it if I want them to.

(Of course, I'm about to negate that and get a half-sleeve done, but that's a whole other kettle of fish.)
posted by youcancallmeal at 6:50 AM on May 5, 2006

No genitals!
posted by fvox13 at 7:13 AM on May 5, 2006

My experience is pretty much the same as youcancallmeal's - upper right arm, a short-sleeved shirt covers it.

I've gained a fair amount of weight since I got it and it hasn't distorted at all.
posted by Lucinda at 7:18 AM on May 5, 2006

just remember: if you get a tattoo anywhere on your shoulders/upper arm/upper back area, it will be visible if/when you wear a strapless dress or bathing suit.
I've seen some attractive and not so attractive tattoos on people wearing virginal-white poofy wedding dresses.
posted by j at 7:37 AM on May 5, 2006

Upper left arm in my case, and I kept it hidden from my mom for three years, from my dad...well, since 2001 and counting. The advantage to the upper arm is that if you don't wear a tank-top, it is very unlikely to be accidentally seen. Probably same to shoulder-blade area.
posted by cobaltnine at 7:38 AM on May 5, 2006

I'm also a tattoo hider. It is a pain in the ass.

If you ever are seen in a bathing suit by your parents, you're not going to be able to hide it.

Signed, a hider since 1996.
posted by k8t at 7:42 AM on May 5, 2006 [1 favorite]

On your ring finger, where it can be hidden by your ring.
posted by pmbuko at 7:54 AM on May 5, 2006

Try to avoid a ho tat. I mean in terms of location, not content.

When I got my first tattoo, at 18, no one had told me that.

But, this was almost a decade ago, maybe it wasn't as common then. I was amused to find out. But I didn't really care. I think the content of the tattoo says just as much as the placement. If I had some genaric flash I might feel differently.

I also have some work between my shoulderblades on my back. Little harder to hide stuff there, but when I got it I was about 25 and didn't care as much about keeping it a secret.
I had planned to be a hider, but about a year after I got the first tattoo I was in a car accident, and my parents saw it when I was in the hospital. Not a big deal, as yelling about that was the last thing on their minds.

Most of my coworkers have seen my tattoos either at summer picnics (the top one shows in most summer dresses, too), and when we all went to a spa. Since I'm not even close to the most inked person here it isn't a big deal.

Hiding for work isn't a big deal, IMO. It may differ if you work in a very conservative industry, but in IT tons of people walk around covered in tattoos and no one cares. I've seen the same in the healthcare industry.

I'd worry about a hip tattoo since (and this may be just me) that's an area of weight change. You'd have to gain quite a bit to distort the skin on your back or, say, wrist and ankle.
posted by Kellydamnit at 8:13 AM on May 5, 2006

A good friend of mine has a 1" square tattoo on the side of her belly (she dreamed she had this tattoo, then got it the next day). After 2 pregnancies, it's still in pretty good shape, but I also sort of like the way it shows the story of how your life and body do change over time.
posted by judith at 9:01 AM on May 5, 2006

Björk's got one behind her ear (no anchors on this site; scroll to 1982)
posted by j.s.f. at 9:51 AM on May 5, 2006

Tattoos are pretty mainstream nowadays--the only real reason to hide them, to me, is that some workplaces haven't caught up to that. I work foodservice in a job where I'm required to cover mine (one on upper right chest, one on right wrist--that's the only one not covered by my normal uniform--and one on my back between my shoulder blades). A tattoo the size of the one you're talking about won't look good some places--something the size of a quarter may be lost on your lower back where some are talking about. Get the design and ask your artist to help you find where it will look good. They'll have to make a temporary carbon to use as a stencil and can apply it to several places so you can decide where you like the look best.

And by the by, enough people, men and women, like the look of those lower back tattoos that deciding they're some kind of labels for sluts is unnecessary judgment. Dressing in a way that shows those when you're not on the beach, whether there's a tattoo there or not, probably speaks more about a girl's sexual intentions.

I am very interested to read that most of the "hiders" who've come out on this thread seem to be mainly worried about hiding their ink from their parents. My mom loathed my first tattoo (about the size of my own loose fist, on the upper right side of my chest), but we've always been pretty open, and four years later, she got one of her own, about the same size and shape.
posted by Cricket at 9:55 AM on May 5, 2006

Knew a girl who had a tattoo on her lower belly, right above the panty line. Very sexy, and likely to be seen only in the bedroom or if you're wearing a bikini.

Since this is your first, you should also talk to your artist about the pain potential of the various body locations you're considering. Anything in a sensitive place, or with just a layer of skin over bone, is going to hurt more than on a large muscle mass. The pain is always bearable, but it's good to be prepared.
posted by InfidelZombie at 11:18 AM on May 5, 2006

Knew a girl who had a tattoo on her lower belly, right above the panty line. Very sexy, and likely to be seen only in the bedroom or if you're wearing a bikini.

This is the part of a woman's body that arguably changes size and shape the most frequently.
posted by desuetude at 12:07 PM on May 5, 2006

You know the flat part right where your hip bone protrudes? Sort of above your leg/ beside your abdomen? Maybe there? Has the same sort of sexy thing as lower belly/panty line, but is possibly less likely to get streched out. It's below the belly line in me at least. Otherwise, I'd go with ankle.
posted by MadamM at 10:34 PM on May 5, 2006

Omg please tell me you're not getting your fiancee's name or initials or anything on your body. Please, please don't.
posted by radioamy at 7:37 PM on May 6, 2006

I got one on the inside of my left wrist (it says "relax"). I only ever wear a wristwatch when I visit my mum.

People usually ask "is that real?" and when I say "yes" they say "oh" (sometimes followed by "cool", sometimes not). That's about it.

I got it there because it was a message to myself though, I didn't get it for anyone else than me.
posted by Skyanth at 11:58 PM on May 8, 2006

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