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Tattoos After 40 : Hot or Not?

Tattoos after 40: hot or not?

I have noticed an usual phenomenon lately–several of the parents in my “over 40” crowd are either talking about getting their first tattoo or adding to the tattoos that they already have (men and women alike). It seems like everywhere I turn, this is a topic of discussion within one of my social circles.

I can honestly say that, at 42 years old, I have no interest in getting a tattoo. I am currently tattoo-free and unless my husband brands me one night while I’m sleeping, I’ll probably die mark-free (except for that really bad scar on my ankle when I went down to the rabbit cages at the farm barefoot after my grandmother told me not to).

It’s not that I’m against tattoos–they don’t sway my opinion of others one way or another. I actually think they’re pretty hot on some people (cough–naughty boy Colin Farrell–cough). So, I’m not anti-tattoo. I think I’m just against getting a tattoo in my forties when it can seem like some lame attempt to fight the dreaded middle age stigma.


Tattoos to Avoid After Age 40

Tattoos: Still a Stereotype?

There’s an awesome movie quote from Bridget Fonda’s character in the movie Singles
that I think applies nicely here:

I’m 23. Remember how old 23 seemed when you were little? I thought people would be traveling in air locks and I’d have five kids. Here I am, 23. Things are…They’re basically the same. I think time’s running out to do something bizarre. Somewhere around 23 bizarre becomes immature.

That’s pretty much how I feel about getting your first tattoo once you’re over 40. It somehow seems so much…less hot.

Recently, Jennifer Aniston got her first tattoo. She’s 42, the same age as me. (Yes, I know. Shut up.) Her tattoo? Norman–the name of her dog that just died.

Okay, I’m an animal lover, too. My beloved pooch died a few years back at age 15-ish. Damn I loved that dog. I still get weepy occasionally thinking of him. However, I would not tattoo his name on my ankle at 42 years old.

So, if you have the urge to get a tattoo in your 40s, remember this: “Somewhere around 23 40 bizarre becomes immature” (especially if it’s your dog’s name tattooed on your ankle).

Tattoos after 40: hot…or not? Sound off in the comments!

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Along with being a contributor to, Jacqueline Wilson is: Appalachia Advocate~Supporter of Women~Writer~Accidental Pit Bull Advocate.


  1. Mars Rose

    May 13, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    I have tattoos and I got my first at 43. I don’t look a day over 35 and I don’t care what anyone thinks. I’ve been an artist my whole life and wanted one since I was 13 but never got one. As said above in some of the comments, I now have the wisdom to be ok with being myself no matter what anyone else thinks. My tattoos are beautiful and I hate to say that even if you are 20 and get tattoos and that is acceptable to judgmental people, you will someday, if you’re lucky to live that long, will too be a woman in your 40 with tattoos.

  2. Belinda

    February 25, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    Use Emla cream half hour before u get ur tattoo.It makes it less painful. Remember to eat prior to getting it tattoo.I don’t like needles at all and passed out the first time.Now I have 4 tattoos thanks to Emla as well as a gentle tattoo artist.

  3. Myndee

    August 23, 2014 at 1:13 am

    I think that when we were growing up, tattoos were considered taboo. Now that I am in my 40s I dont care what anyone thinks! I have grown into my own and have always liked tattoos. Dread the day that i would have come home with one when I was 20…but now I say, WHY NOT. Its my body and by decision. I love ’em and will continue to get them. Who cares what others think

  4. J

    June 27, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    Yes, it’s not at all unusual for people in their 40s to get their first tattoo. Especially women.
    Sometimes the tattoo desing is faith based.

  5. Nic

    May 20, 2014 at 5:02 am

    Hot or not?? Who cares?? If you’re getting a tattoo for others, then why do it? I got my first tattoo at 40, (it’s big, beautiful, expensive and took 7.5 hours of sometimes great discomfort.) No regrets. In fact, I’ve got plenty more planned. And why? Because I’m FINALLY old enough to know that the only opinion that matters is my own. If I can look in the mirror and be ok with who I am, then it’s all good. I don’t hold an opinion on those with UNmarked skin–why does any one think they should decide what’s hot (or not) about tattooed skin?!

    • otto

      February 16, 2017 at 4:22 am

      Great thinking Nic

  6. Ruth S.

    July 6, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Igot my tattoo when i turned 40 i guess it was a way of making me feel…….less 40. I’m 47 now and I do regret having it. If i could have a doover i wouldnt get it again.

    i dont think the person wirting the article was judging others. it sounds like to me she was just saying for herself it felt immature.

    the polls was fun. Im glad she included it.

  7. anya

    July 6, 2011 at 12:33 am

    I have 2 tattoos, both of which I got after age 40 and would like to get at least one more. I don’t give a rats ass if you or anyone else thinks they are “hot” or immature. for me they are a way to celebrate the fact that I’m free to be who *I* want to be at this stage in my life. why does it take some of us so long to feel comfortable in our skin!? lol! I wasted too many years thinking I was too fat..too ugly..too (fill in blank)
    I didn’t get my tattoos to appeal to you or anyone else – I got them for me! Its not up to you to decide whether or not they are hot!

  8. Vickie

    July 3, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what other people think, in my opinion. I think as I get older, I adopt a “I don’t give a hoot what other people think” mentality more frequently. I would like a tattoo (I’m 42) and I want a motorcycle too :D Will I get either, only time will tell. But when time does come, other people’s opinion won’t play a part in my decision.

  9. Margaret Barney

    June 27, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Hot or not? I don’t know. I sport an inconspicuous one. The hub and I have kicked around getting another (he has three), but somehow there’s always something better to spend our money on.

  10. rockle

    June 27, 2011 at 11:29 am

    my mom has a tattoo. just the one, and she didn’t get it until she was well into her 40s. of course she went the “safe” route and got a small one in a normally inconspicuous location (you can only really see it when she wears a bikini or low-rise pants that are falling down). depending on the size, design, and location, they can be pretty inoffensive to downright cute (my mom has two little palm trees, maybe 3″ tops).

    people who suddenly get neck or mike-tyson-style face tattoos? that can be jarring and weird.

    (me? i am not yet 40, but i also don’t have any tattoos, because i am a #giantchicken.)

    • Prime Parents' Club

      July 6, 2011 at 6:03 pm

      Those face tatts freak me out, too!

      • Christy King-Wallace

        May 3, 2014 at 7:39 pm

        I’m in my forties and my five boys want to get me a tatt for Mother’s Day. I dealt with a lot of pain in my life so my Torrence is up, but I’m so chicken, but want to do this because I was such a sweet gift idea!!

        • MELODY

          April 11, 2015 at 8:13 pm

          I too am in my 40’s with 5 boys…..what did u end up getting if at all?? I want to get a tattoo as well, but am so scared!! Lol

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