It depends on whom you're really getting the tattoo for, says Lawrence Rubin, PhD, a clinical psychologist and professor (who happens to have tattoos and has researched the psychology of the tattoo extensively) at St. Thomas University in Miami. Rubin says that for women, tattoos—no matter what their form—may be a symbol of liberation or even cultural rebellion to tell the world that they don't care what other people think, especially when we consider that tattoos were first employed on men in tribes and the military. (Rumor has it that Sandra Bullock got inked on her breast as a tribute to her mom—but apparently that still wasn't enough for Jesse.)
Rubin says that many of the celebrities we see with tattoos simply want to "play to the cameras": "There's a broad range of people who get tattoos, and out at some end of that continuum there's probably an amount of pathology that's going on, or maybe a strong need for narcissistic display."
One thing I can say, though, is that the guys who liked my tat really liked it. Many are downright captivated, and it helped me to feel as sexually self-assured as a walking issue of Cosmo. Almost every man I have ever been naked with or worn a bikini around has commented on it. I'm not alone in that—one statistic states that 42 percent of tattooed women feel sexier because of it.
Twelve years after my tattoo's conception, I'm still content with its message. I'm no longer a teenager in a desperate relationship, and a lot of other things about my body and spirit have changed, but underneath it all, the artful, liberated beautiful creature never changes.
I hope Sandra Bullock loves herself that way, too—with or without a tattoo.