Sexy tattoos, and the power of ‘fuck it’

Image by the brilliant Stuart F Taylor

I am definitely biased in favour of people with sexy tattoos. Take any guy who is funny or pretty or interesting enough to vaguely grab my attention, slap a tattoo on him, and watch as I turn from mildly intrigued to drooling at the mouth.

Sexy tattoos

Ink on skin is sexy in and of itself – whether it’s a permanent tattoo or something temporary. Two of my favourite guys recently got their faces painted, and I stared at the picture for a long time trying to work out why a few brush strokes made both of them look infinitely more beautiful. If you like ink on skin too, I challenge you to look at this amazing calligraphy-on-skin photo of Adele Haze on Dreams of Spanking (nsfw) and not get sexy shivers down your spine…

I’ve not fucked many people who had tattoos, I’m sad to say. Unless a few of them have been hiding small doodles in places I didn’t get round to inspecting, I’ve probably only shagged three or four tattooed people. But my God, have I stared at some blokes with tattoos. On trains, buses, and in the street, I’ll catch small glimpses of ink on flesh, and have to tear my eyes away in case they think I’m rude.

Sleeves, primarily, get me in the gut. They highlight the shape and size of someone’s arm, and draw attention to that sliver of skin just below the arm of a t-shirt. I worship this patch of skin the same way I imagine others love a glimpse of bare flesh at the top of a stocking. God I can’t wait for summer.

Leg tattoos, wrist tattoos: all amazing. Perhaps the best of all is a sexy tattoo on someone’s hip or stomach or waist – the one you rarely get to see properly unless you’re fucking them, but of which you can catch the odd glimpse when they stretch, and their shirt rides up out of the waistband of their trousers.

Stomach tattoos do for me what the Calvin Klein logo used to as a teenager: peeking out of the top of the trousers and making me want to bury myself face-first into the skin that lies beneath.

There’s more to it than visual appeal, though, as there usually is with sexy stuff…

The hotness of ‘fuck it’

A recent study examined the impact of women’s tattoos on approaches from men. It found that women with one visible tattoo got approached more than twice as often as women without. It’s just a small study, so don’t take it as gospel, but it offers a couple of hints that got me thinking. Apart from just thinking I need to get on with getting some tattoos, it kicked off something else I’ve been considering for a while: the downright sexiness of the ‘fuck it, why not?’ attitude.

See, sexy tattoos aren’t just beautiful. Like most things that visually appeal to me, there’s something deeper sitting beneath it: I fancy guys more if they’re fat or skinny than super-muscular, partly because I hate the idea of going to the gym or doing exercise on a date. I fancy guys more if they look a bit punky than if they’re clean-cut, because the clean-cut boys at school used to be quite shitty to me, and I found warmth and friendship in the scruffy crowd. Tattoos and – to a lesser extent – piercings symbolise something else.

Ever since I was an awkward teenage goth, I have always wanted a tattoo. I managed, eventually, to convince my parents and grandparents that piercings wouldn’t ruin my life forever, yet they’ve never moved on tattoos. So even now that I’m a grown-up whenever I walk with longing past a tattoo parlour, I hear my Mum’s voice in my head: “you’ll regret it one day!”

And so, rightly or wrongly, I assume that people with tattoos are willing to take more risks. It’s almost certainly a bullshit assumption, by the way, but the connection’s been made in my mind so it’s hard to shake off: “you’ll regret it one day!”

Whether it’s changes in my body, changes in taste, a job that means I can’t wear sleeves that don’t cover whatever ink I’d put on my wrists and arms… perhaps I’d regret it one day.


But now I’m older I think I know the answer to that:

“So what?”

People with tattoos know they might regret things. When I was younger it was possible to nod along to the wisdom of older people and think ‘oh yes, maybe these tattooed people just haven’t considered the possibilities.’ But they have, of course. And that’s sexy: the ability to understand risk and regret and joy, and decide that the latter outweighs the first two.

People with tattoos know they might regret things. But they also know that sometimes you risk regret if you want to live a little. A tattoo is a visible, sexy, beautiful reminder of a time they loved something so much that they wanted to keep it forever.

A gentle prompt that sometimes if you want something awesome, you just have to say ‘fuck it.’


  • Loved this post.

    I love my tattoos. And I love tattoos on other people. Nice artwork will always make me look twice…..and maybe drool a little. I always want to know the stories behind tattoos as well.

    I have two tattoo ‘rules’; no names (or naming words), and the design has to mean something to you (don’t just pic something generic from a book).

  • Aconitum says:

    I absolutely love this. As a heavily tattooed lady I’ve found my ink has definitely played a part in people striking up a conversation with me, for friendly or salacious reasons. On the one hand, it tends to get the attention of fellow alternative types but it does also attract regular guys, who I suspect might like the appeal of someone less mainstream.

    The thing is tattoos *are* becoming more mainstream but even so, the unique beauty of each person’s ink means even if everyone is tattooed, we’d all still be truly individual and it’s the individuality that attracts me to other people.

    As for regrets, that’s what laser surgery and cover-ups are for. I had a fairly sizable back piece covered, and I still don’t regret the original tattoo. You live and learn. I know some people would be horrified by my attitude, especially my gran, but you know what? This is my life and it’s my body. Tattoos are a symbol of autonomy over my flesh. I’m aware that this wasn’t the case for many in the history books, but this is the here and now, and this is what my ink represents to me.

  • Victorianpornbot says:

    I am moderately tattooed – and will become heavily so as the funds become available to me – and I have to say, I love this so fucking much. Because it IS about claiming that moment, that intensity of feeling in the immediate because that is what life is made of. I am not a risk taker and don’t do things carelessly, but I have one life, one body and frankly it’s mine to live and enjoy. That’s what seeing a tattoo means to me – someone who is prepared to live a part of their life; to make a choice rather than a risk. Not that people without ink aren’t like that – but it’s an example of that.

    But, personally, it is also about loving one’s body, about embellishing it, about making it art and marking relevant parts of your life and personality. My tattoos are a code, a text of what made me who I am and that this person is worthwhile. They come out of years of body dysmorphia, gender dysphoria and self-harm, but they aren’t mutilations or marks of low self-esteem, they are celebrations of my survival, promises made to my future, poems to welcome me into my own flesh, reminders that my body is good enough to be worthy of such beauty. Okay, I’m waxing lyrical, but THIS is why tats are gorgeous for me, and why my tattooed skin is important. I’ll regret a lot of things, but not learning to love me.

  • rare deeds says:

    That image of Adele Haze is amazing – I love that the calligraphy depicts a passage from the Iliad, & that her partner is reading the Loeb edition of what I assume is the Iliad!!

    I remember when my lover, who had harboured dreams of piercings for 20 years, finally grasped the moment & got her nipples pierced – I remember the way we talked up her excitement for the prospect in the moment, & most of all, I remember her utter exhilaration at having the piercings done…an exhilaration that persists still.

    I totally agree with Victorianpornbot, when they write: “Because it IS about claiming that moment, that intensity of feeling in the immediate because that is what life is made of.”

  • ValeryNorth says:

    I sometimes think about getting a tattoo, but for various reasons the design I used to fantasise about has become something I would have hated to still be wearing now. So I’m glad I didn’t yet. I can’t think of a design I am confident I would still feel connected to 10, 20 or 30 years from now.

    But I am going to make body changes that I hope will be permanent, and people have been all “oh, you might regret it!”. But for me the risk is less than the anticipated reward from being changed that way. The change is laser facial hair removal (although I’m now reading it’s not total but only permanent reduction, which I find disappointing).

    I guess I feel my life is written on the inside a lot more, and there’s only when something that doesn’t feel like my life is on the outside that I want to change it?

    But at the same time, I am attracted to those who do make those marks – as long as what they choose shows a good person.

  • Sadie says:

    My Master has a kink for body modification on me which I originally struggled with as it felt like he was saying I wasn’t good enough as I was which for someone with a history of self harm, eating disorders and body dysmorphia was difficult.

    But he has encouraged and supported and enjoyed the small gradual changes and known when things are a line too far without me having to explicitly say and that allowed me to see that before all those MH issues kicked in my teens I had wanted to get piercings and tattoos and been prevented from having autonomy to choose and make mistakes.

    I’ve had several piercings since I met him and each one has made me more connected to my body and start to like and respect it. It’s like they ground me. He’s keen for me to get a tattoo (of my choosing and positioning) and the only thing that was still a slight niggle was the permanence even thought I’d considered it in relation to another huge life choice as a guide not to go back.

    And then reading this I realised the permanance is perfect. He came along and allowed me to start moving past stuff that was trapping me. He will be long term for me, but unlikely to be a life partner, but what he kick started in me will be for life and marking that on my body is just right. Being able to mark the moment in your life it all started to work out is wonderful and special. And hot.

    Now all I need to do is find a decent tattoo artist and save up…

  • DB says:

    May I recommend a film called ‘the pillow book’

    Iv only seen it once about 15 years ago about 2 in the morning almost certainly high or drunk but this article reminded me of it and that must mean something.

  • Jo says:

    No ragrets, GotN. No ragrets. ^^ I second DB on The Pillow Book – super fucking hot.

  • I have a couple of tattoos which are only visible when I’m wearing very little but that’s fine by me (had one for 30 years and one for 20 or so).
    I’m also going to put up a shameless plug for the new anthology Inked, which is all about sex and tattoos ;) loads of different erotic stories, all featuring tattoos in some way.

  • SpaceCaptainSmith says:

    Yeah, tattoos are frequently hot. Never got one myself (I guess because there’s no design I’m sufficiently attached to to make it permanent), but I admire those who have, for the reasons mentioned here.

    The worst argument against getting a tattoo is “That’s going to look terrible when you’re 70”. To which the obvious response is, “Oh yeah, like your untattooed 70-year-old ass is going to look much better?” Tattooed people know our time is fleeting, and have resolved to make the most of it.

  • Mardi says:

    “So what?” is exactly what I say to people who ask if I’m not worried that I might regret my tattoos one day. They are a part of me now and even if, at some point in the future, I change my mind about them, they will be a memory of how I’ve evolved as a person. I have a navel piercing which I got as a 15-year-old, which I definitely wouldn’t get now, but I’m reluctant to take it out simply because it makes me nostalgic of my silly teenage years. Sometimes I look at a couple of scars I have from self-harming, and they remind me that I’ve survived some bad times and that I’m better now. And anyway, having a picture you no longer like on your skin is hardly the most tragic thing I can think of that might happen to a person.

    One thing I’ve found, having a not-so-small tattoo on my shoulder blade, is that it makes people not think twice about removing your clothes out of the way in order to see it, while they would probably find it awkward to be pulling your shirt down your arm under any other circumstances. Which works as a great excuse when it’s a guy you fancy, but is pretty annoying when it’s the colleague who’s been clumsily hitting on you.

    And one thing I have to add: the process and pain of getting a new tattoo just really turns me on. I don’t know if it appeals to my masochistic side, or if it’s the excitement of taking the risk, but for a while – something like the first hour, before it gets too painful to enjoy – I’m just sitting there letting a guy jab my skin, and my cunt is getting wet like it’s nobody’s business. So, you never know, GotN, you might find something in it too. ;)

  • DawnaK says:

    The older I gt, the more tattoos I want. This shit ain’t getting prettier on it’s own – lets put some birds and flowers on it!

  • NS says:

    I got the tattoo you’re “not supposed” to get–the one you thought up at 4 am and then booked an appointment for on impulse. It was my first, (to date, only) tattoo. I was actually more curious about the experience of getting a tattoo–the unfamiliar environment, the heavily inked artists, the potential pain (there was none), having a stranger so closely appraise and interact with my body–than I was interested in the art. Actually, I have a weird relationship with the art, because it’s a very poetic-y phrase from a song, and I am not a poetic-y person. I like how these words SOUND, but I know they don’t mean anything, and the significance of the song as a whole to me is not something I am interested in explaining, though it’s thought out and significant. I almost didn’t want to show the design to the artist, and now it’s on my body. When people ask if I regret it, though, I laugh and say no–it’s on my back; *I* never even see it. Actually, more than 50% of the time I’m wrong about which side it’s on. Despite my weirdness about explaining it I have no qualms about people seeing it and think it looks nice peeking out from beneath my summer clothes. And that’s that about that. Weirdly, my rather large tattoo is the only body mod I’ve ever done because I’m normally VERY AFRAID of changing anything–I don’t even have my ears pierced because I don’t want the little holes.

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