Speaking of the normalization of transgressive signifiers, I think it’s interesting that within my lifetime (more-or-less), tattoos went from something you only got in prison or the navy to something you can get at a wedding reception as a party favor.
Depending on how you look at it, they don’t necessarily have to be a big commitment.1 Sure, the ink is going to hang around a while, but size, placement, and design can go a long way towards mitigating the risk of regret. Just because tattoos are meant to be seen doesn’t mean you can’t pick your audience.
1 – I say this as someone who once shopped diligently for months for a new couch and finally just bought the cheapest, simplest one I could find because I couldn’t settle on any one of the pricier ones I really liked but wasn’t sure I liked quite that much even though they were within my budget.
Your memory. Haven’t you seen Memento?
Seriously though, because of their semi-permanent nature, a tattoo chosen for symbolic (as opposed to purely decorative) reasons, can almost sort of physically fix in time a significant life event. For example, I know a couple who got complementary tattoos on their ring fingers when they got married. It’s sounds cheesy in the abstract, but I found it surprisingly touching in this particular case. People always say they’ll regret it if they ever break up, presumably because it’ll remind them of what they’ve lost. But it seems to me that it could just as easily remind them of what was good about what they had.
In any case, I’m not trying to talk anyone into getting a tattoo, just to be clear.