I guess you could say that our daughter’s first year away at college left an indelible impression on her…because she came home with a tattoo.

Long gone are the days when getting a tattoo cast judgement upon the wearer. Maybe you have the same impression that I had yesterday as I surveyed the checkout line at Costco. It’s more like who doesn’t have a tattoo? My forearms looked so plain and boring compared to the tribal patterns, Chinese characters, wolf head and anime characters that I saw on other people’s arms.

And then there was the heavily tatted couple pushing their toddler in a stroller. They had so much ink on their arms that it looked like they had changed ethnicities. You know how when you see an African American couple, you generally expect to see their children with the same skin color? I found myself immediately thinking how odd it was that their blond son hadn’t inherited the same colorful skin as his parents.

But back to our daughter…. Jennifer Lynn had prepared us about a year ago that she was planning to get a tattoo when she turned 18 so when she arrived home with a tattoo, it certainly didn’t cause a “YOU WENT AND DID WHAT?” kind of reaction from us. She is just one of the 22% of 18- to 24-year-olds who have at least one tattoo, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. That’s compared with 9% in 2008.

One of the reasons Jennifer Lynn waited to get a tattoo was because when she was working at Starbucks, visible tattoos weren’t allowed. You could have them; they just couldn’t be seen. But as another example that that tattoos have moved into the mainstream, Starbucks changed their policy last November. Their dress code guidelines now have a big thumbs up for tattoos as long as they aren’t on the face or neck and are not offensive.

If you squint, you can see it.

If you squint, you can see it.

So, what did Jennifer Lynn have tattooed and where? It is almost anti-climactic. Her tattoo is about the size of a quarter and is of her own design; a sweet little bird that she drew based on the silhouette of a favorite necklace. And any shirt – even a tank top – would cover it up.

For this bug-bite sized piece of body art, she paid $80 of her hard-earned money to a tattoo artist in Venice Beach.  Which makes me wonder about the thousands of dollars that people are spending to get big, museum-quality tattoos on large portions of their bodies. That sounds painful on many levels.