Do the location of tattoos have any meaning?

Just wondering if where you have a tattoo placed has any sort of meaning.

Some psychologists believe that facial tattoos are a sign of low serlf esteem.

But you didn’t mean that.

On bony parts like elbows and fingers, or on the head of one’s penis, it means “I’ve got a high pain tolerance!”

Generally it depends on the person and their culture. I’m sure in some cultures a tatoo in x place means y, but I haven’t heard of that in mainstream Western culture. Most of the people I talk to get tatooes in certain areas for visiblity in the summer (e.g. ankle, arm) and/or because that’s the trendy place to get them (e.g. small of the back). Your best bet is to ask the person with the tatoo.

I have 3 on my legs (2 on my left, 1 on my right), and plan on getting more. However, I will make sure that any tat I get can be covered with long pants and a t-shirt.

So, in that case, yes, the location does have meaning :slight_smile:

Certain designs in certain places used to mean something. Usually “meant” different things depending on who you asked. Prison tats provide examples of this, like the the infamous teardrop. A spiderweb on the elbow used to (according to some) mean that the bearer had killed somone. Or was it the neck? :wink:

Since tattoos have become more mainstream in recent years you would probably not be safe making any assumptions. A lot of people pick location/design combos because they like the look of them. I don’t think my hairdresser has killed anyone anyhow…

From what I’ve seen and heard, a tattoo inthe small of your back means “stripper”.

Good God I hope not :eek:; around here I’ve noticed the majority of back tattoos adorn the uhm, “larger ladies” in their early 20’s… the type that couldn’t work in that profession.

Or, just as likely, “I don’t want this to be all stretched out in 20 years”. All of my ink is strategically placed for just this eventuality.

My little green lizard (which I had touched up three days ago, so it’s still fresh on my mind…OW!) is on my right ankle. This is so that I can see and enjoy it, but it’s in a relatively nonconspicuous place. I didn’t know until afterwards that I picked a particularly sensitive place to get it, though! Ow, ow, ow!

I though tattoos on the smalls of backs were just popular, not a code for stripper. Maybe some places it is?

My current tattoos are on the upper arms under the shirt line. Meaning if I want to show them, I can, but if I don’t I can do that as well.

Any future tattoos will be placed in areas where I can decide easily enough and without fuss whether I want to show them or not.

None of my tattoos are placed without any thought other than I like where they are, but I have noticed a lot of people round my neck of the woods with ‘swallow’ tattoos (the bird that is) on their neck or on their hand just above the thumb, I thought for a while that it meant they had done prison time but on second thoughts I hope thats not true because there is a lot of them out there! Any Brit dopers know the meaning of this tattoo?

I always thought that the swallow tattoo was a navy thing. In Ireland, dots on the fingers are used to signify jail time. And small of the back efforts mean “I’m a tit”.

Finger tattoos–like the Red Hot Chili Peppers got during their Dave Navarro period–genrally mean prison time. Outer edge of the right hand contains a message for your superiors in the military, as in during a salute; the message is generally of an antisocial nature.

Oliver Reed, the late actor, had eagle talons tattooed on the head of his penis. He was uncircimcised.

“Couldn’t work in that profession? (stripper)” Unfortunately, IMHO, this is not true. These days, I don’t go to breast bars, but when I did, I saw the occasional well-padded dancer. Some of the guys in the room seemed to have been waiting for a dancer of that shape.

"From what I’ve seen and heard, a tattoo inthe small of your back means “stripper”.

I think they put them back there because they are shy & don’t want people to be able to see them. However whenever they sit down you can see it clear as day.

I’ve got to confess I find tattoos on the small of a womans back quite arousing…plus it gives you something to read.

Olde City Tattoo in Philadelphia has a chart hanging on the wall showing prices with variations for different body parts. I suppose it’s possible that folks pick location by price.

I think locations/meanings are easy generalizations both to make and to disprove.

If I get any others, which I doubt, I will look for locations which I can at least partly see (because why should I be left out of looking at it) but are easily concealable. As important as those are will be finding out where is more or less sensitive; it’s not all that bad everywhere, but I’d like to avoid a well-known screamingly painful area. (Shut up, all of you. I don’t mean THERE.)

Some tattoos are strategically placed for identification purposes - normally hidden, but easily presented when necessary.