Will You Hate Your New Tattoo, Know the Odds


One of my favorite time-wasters of all time is looking at threads of singularly bad tattoos, especially ones of the “No Ragrets” variety. This is in direct contrast to the fact that I have 16 (or so) tattoos myself, all of which I adore and all of which have a great story to boot.

That’s not to say we’re all so lucky. Tattoos are an expensive and very permanent addition to your body and life that can either tell a great story, show off your personality, or make you regret that seventh shot of tequila that one night.

So before you go under the gun, it’s worth considering the odds of whether or not you will hate (or “ragret”) your new tattoo.

Survey Says

Tattoos are no longer a counter-culture taboo with over 18% of the population revealing that they have one or more tattoos somewhere on their bodies. But, of course, not everyone who gets a tattoo ends up loving it forever. Of that 18%, I wonder how many ended up regretting their tattoo decision?

A recent collaborative study between researchers at Casino.org and Dr. Stephen Crabbe from the University of Portsmouth polled 1,000 people in the United Kingdom who admitted to disliking a tattoo that they had gotten previously to find out the big question: why?

We’re not talking about math, luck, or odds at the casino. It’s a purely personal thing.

Let’s see what these disappointed case studies had to say.

A Picture is Worth a 4-Letter Word

Sometimes a tattoo of a word or phrase is just as bad as terrible tattoo art. Consider the case of your friend (we all have one) who thought it would be a great idea to get a tattoo of the name of their significant other. How could that go wrong?

Believe it or not, getting a tattoo to show your affection for a loved one is one of the most popular reasons to get a tattoo in the first place. It’s a sweet gesture that’s destined for failure, considering how fast relationships come and go.

After tattoos of people’s names, the top designs that engendered the most dissatisfaction were tribal tattoos (13%), Asian characters (12%), and constellation (star system) tattoos (16%).

Location, Location, Location

Does the location of the tattoo on your body have any bearing on future regret?

The study found that the most popular place on the body to get a tattoo for women was the lower back — ah yes, the proverbial “tramp stamp”. Whereas men preferred tats on their forearms (you know, to show off their muscles).

Surprisingly, more men regretted their forearm tattoo decisions (more than 20%) than women regretted their lower back art (15%). The logic here is that if you don’t like a tattoo that’s on your back, you rarely have to look at it versus something on your forearm that you see every day. Not to mention having to cover it up for work…


What inspires people to get the tattoos that they do? Well, it seems to be a very wide variety, from something people “just like” (23%), friends (11%), significant other (11%), a picture in the tattoo artist’s book at the shop (11%), all the way down to pets (0.8%) or favourite bands (0.9%).

The astonishing bit is that 14% of participants in the study said they didn’t know what inspired them to get the tattoo in the first place!

So in answering the big question: Will you hate your new tattoo? It seems pretty clear that not having a clear inspiration for a lifelong addition to your body might just be a factor worth considering. Now, we’re starting to get somewhere.


Here’s where it all starts to make sense.

The study participants were asked how long they thought about getting their tattoos before they actually got it. A shocking (roughly) 22% of both sexes said that it was a spur-of-the-moment decision! Those who pondered their tats for a longer time before taking the plunge had a much lower rate of dismay.

So, in fact, it just may be that having a bit of a think before you mark yourself for life might lower your odds of later regret.

The Art of Body Art

The art of tattoo is an ancient, painful, and deeply meaningful ritual that has its roots 12,000 years in the past. It’s arguably one of the world’s oldest surviving art forms that has morphed into the tech-infused practice we have today.

Getting a tattoo should be something you think about carefully, the art should be meaningful and inspiring, and the place you decide to get inked should be part of the consideration too. Everyone gets tattoos for different reasons and at different times in their lives.

The moral of the story is that loving your tattoo for life has more to do with your mindset and expectations than with the hand you’re dealt or a roll of the dice.