Buffy Martin Tarbox was 22 when she got her first tattoo. It was a 4-by-3-inch, black and red circle above a cross — the symbol for women—on her arm. Less than a month later, she added a second tattoo: a black Celtic knot on her other arm. But when Martin Tarbox reached her mid-30s, she decided it was time for the ink to go. “When I got the tattoos, like most people, I was young,” she says. “Believe me, I regret it. I’m a professional woman now.”
Roughly a third of Americans between the ages of 25 and 29 have at least one tattoo, according to a 2008 Harris Poll. So do a quarter of 30- to 39-year-olds. Like many trends, celebrities are helping to drive the desire to get inked — roughly 70 percent of NBA basketball players are tatted up, according to Andrew Gottlieb’s In the Paint: Tattoos of the NBA and the Stories Behind Them, as are a slew of entertainers from Lil Wayne to Lady Gaga.
But tattoo remorse is leading many of the painted masses to rethink their ink and opt for increasingly available laser removal procedures. They are fueling a burgeoning business: specialty removal shops, like California’s Dr. Tattoff, Chicago’s Hindsight Tattoo Removal, and Zap A Tat in Virginia, are thriving.
Huh. Me, if I were worried about my professional status, I’d get the name “Buffy Tarbox” scrubbed off of my birth certificate long before I’d worry about removing two piddly tattoos from my arms, but it takes all kinds, I suppose.
I remember back in freshman comp, when a guy sitting at my table saw me showing off my first two tattoos to a couple of my friends. “You’re going to change, you know,” he said, as he suggested that I would regret it one day. Well, as one of that quarter-of-Americans demographic cited above, I can say here and now that I REGRET NOTHING. So, uh, there you go; fuck you, random know-it-all blond guy from English class. Hope you’re enjoying your “natural” male pattern baldness and paunchy gut!