I was having dinner with some friends when one of the women, about 45 years of age, announced that she was going to get her first tattoo. She said she was going with her daughter, her son-in-law, and several others, and they were all going to get tattoos. Do women have midlife crises like men do? 

We began discussing tattoos when our waiter came over to take our order. He had a tattoo on his arm and we asked him about it. Come to find out that he had many tattoos all over his body that he was unable to display. And this was a guy who had his Masters degree and was a high school guidance counselor. I wondered how much of a part his tattoos played in his being a role model for teens. And I also wondered why he was working at Chili's. Perhaps he needed the extra money to pay for all his tattoos.

Tattoos seem to be more popular with women than with men. I'm not sure when that happened. I still recall the days when only criminals and sailors had tattoos. Today a college-aged woman who doesn't have at least one tattoo is rare. I would go so far as to speculate that now days a greater percentage of college-aged women have tattoos than do sailors.

Women tend to be more fashion conscious than men. That hasn't changed over the years. As a general rule women have more clothes than men, change clothes more often than men, and are much more reluctant to be seen wearing the same thing too often. The higher up in social standing the women rises, the more this applies. I don't think it applies to WalMart shoppers.

So why do women, who wouldn't dare wear the same gown to two consecutive weddings or social functions, get tattoos that will look the same for as long as they live – except for a degree of sagging and wrinkling as they age? These same women wouldn't even consider wearing the same necklace every day, all day, for the rest of their lives. And why is the most common location for women's tattoos on their lower back where they, and others, can't see them. They might as well get the bottom of their feet tattooed.

There is a point where the desire to conform with a tattoo on one's lower back, arm or ankle, becomes a personal identity crisis, and tattoos start appearing all over one's body like a horrible disease. Most of these people seem to have no other way of self-expression except to look like a bad comic book.

Many tribal societies have body art customs that have carried down through the years, either for religious, medicinal, or ceremonial purposes. Evidence of tattoos goes back to at least 4,000 years. However the word tattoo is fairly recent. Prior to the 19th century it was called "staining," which doesn't have a very positive connotation these days but might be more appropriate. Perhaps we should start saying that we "tattooed" our underwear. At least it washes out.