I’ve a confession to make. I have a prejudice. There I said it. I know I shouldn’t. But I just can’t help myself. I don’t like women getting tattoos. I don’t like men getting them either but women especially. See I’m prejudiced. Generation X and Y are doing it in droves. Almost a third of women in their 20s have a tattoo. That is a frightening statistic because I bet when they all get older it’s going to be regret city. Get this. One third of all people aged between 18 and 30 have a tattoo, according to a researcher at James Cook University in Queensland. According to researcher, Eduardo de la Fuente, tattoos were once the badge of non-respectability. Reserved for prisoners, sailors and people wanting to identify themselves as part of a group operating outside the mainstream. But de la Fuente says that non-respectability began to gradually shift in the 60s and 70s. From the 90s onward it has become so respectable that tattoos are now a fashion statement. We are witnessing an explosion of people inking themselves. Researcher de la Fuente says there is a sociological/psychological reason for this. Fashion and haircuts used to be the principal vehicles for the expression of non-conformity. Now it’s the whole body. And if you are going to make a statement you may as well put it in writing. But they will all live to regret it. Mark my words. That’s not just me saying it. The Australian Consumer Magazine, Choice surveyed people with a tattoo and discovered that one in three regretted it later in life. Too late he cried. I mean why would you in the first place? Not only is it ugly, it’s painful and pretty permanent. Fortunately, there’s been a steady proliferation of clinics that specialize in tattoo removal. “Traditionally a tattoo was about belonging to a community where you expected to live your entire life,” Dr de la Fuente said. “But now people have several different personas and belong to several different tribes in their lifetime. As you get older there may be a new persona you wish to convey instead.” Ok. So grow a beard or get a dog if you really want you to be a different you. Eduardo de la Fuente asked a bunch of young women why they felt the need to have a tattoo. Lauren, 25, she says got a tattoo because it was something meaningful ( or should that be meaningless) to her, her mum and her sister. “It was a bonding experience for us but I think a lot of girls do it these days because their role models are doing it and it’s cheap, trendy and another way to distinguish yourself.” A quick look at young celebrity women show a kaleidoscope of inked body parts. Glee’s Lea Michelle has 14 tattoos, pop sensation Miley Cyrus reportedly has more than 20 while at last count singer Rihanna had 21 tattoos. But it’s not just young women getting in on the act. A recent trend has seen an increase in the number of people over the age of 45 getting a tattoo. According to Eduardo de la Fuente it suggests the “aestheticisation of the body” is becoming more popular even among middle-aged people. Now I’m really starting to lose hope. Famous actors Cate Blanchett and Amy Adams apparently celebrated their Oscar victories last year by heading to a famous Hollywood tattoo parlour, while 80-year-old actress Dame Judi Dench recently revealed that even she has a tattoo. Yeah right. A documentary which is due to be broadcast on Australian television later this month will show a vast cross-section of society getting inked at a tattoo parlour at Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach. Everyone from mums, to grieving grandmothers, to Dads celebrating the birth of their first child take part. The stories paint what I would call the nightmare scenario of one in seven Australians who get inked at some point in their lifetime. See, we truly are a nation of convicts. Heidi Haydon is one of the tattooed taking part in the documentary. Her obsession with tattoos kicked in after she was left paralysed from the chest down following a motorbike accident. “I used to draw tattoos and always wanted one but mum always talked me out of it,” she said. “But after leaving hospital following the crash, I decided to go ahead and do it, and mum even got one too.” I’ve only got three words to say. Ok. Six. Dumb, dumb, dumb don’t do it.