Is it wrong to get a tattoo?


Hello c:
I have been wanting to get two tattoos. One on my wrists and the other down my left side. In case anyone wants to know. I want to get “Different Not Less” tattooed on my wrists (different on my left not less on my right) and “Sometimes you’ve gotta fall before you fly” down my left side. Both would just be black ink in a cursive script.
Now the real question, are getting tattoos against anything or viewed as wrong by other Catholics and the Church? I’m Roman Catholic and I have heard that they are from some places and that they aren’t from others.
Are tattoos considered sinful or wrong? And if so, where does it say that?
Thank you for any help c:


I guess it’s been a while since we’ve had the tattooo debate. :stuck_out_tongue:

If you do a search of official Church documents for “tattoo”, you will not find any hits. It’s not something the Church has issued an official statement about.

So, on that level, I find it difficult to state that all tattoos are intrinisically sinful. If that were the case, I think the Church would have given us a bit more to go on.

That said, I would certainly encourage someone to think long and hard about it before making a decision with such long-lasting effects. Based on your user name and location, I’m going to guess you’re on the younger side. :wink: This is something you will carry with you on your body for the rest of your life. When you’re going for that job interview --tattoos on the wrists. On your wedding day – tattoos on the wrists. When you’re an elderly grandmother – tattoos on the wrists.

Not to tell you what to do (:o), but it doesn’t seem like a good idea to me. I would have to have you explain what “Different Not Less” even means in order for me to understand the statement you are making. Is this a statement you’re still going to want to make in 10, 20, 50 years from now? I know that I wouldn’t want to presently be saddled with whatever phrase I found meaningful back when I was younger.

Maybe try something temporary first. :o


Well I have had both ideas for a good 3 to 4 years. Honestly having the tattoos when I’m older doesn’t bother me. Sure tattoos will look not so attractive in 50 years, but that doesn’t bother me.
Different not less is a quote by temple grandin. Its a quote relating to autism. My little sister, who is the biggest inspiration in my life and one of the reasons why I’m alive, has autism. I myself have ADD. So is it a statement I’ll want to make when I’m older? Yes. It is something that has changed my life, made me a different person, and means so much to me. I don’t understand how a phrase for something that effects me so much in my life is going to be something that I will not find meaningful later on in life.

I’m 18, by the way. So yeah I’m on the younger side xD but it is about something that means a lot to me and has played a huge part in making me the person I am today. And for job interviews etc you can always cover them up. Haha.


Joe gave a very good answer, so I have nothing left to say on that count. Tatooing yourself is a **permanent **decision, so be very, very sure that you want to make it.

A quote comes to mind from someone I know: “Tatooing her beautiful limbs would be akin to spraypainting words on a Corvette; the idea of trying to modify something so priceless is horrible to think about.”


I figured that the quote had to mean something but I had never heard it before. My son has autism, so I understand.

I’ve never been a fan of tattoos, so I’m sure that is what triggers my inclination to say “Wait a few more years and see how you feel.” :stuck_out_tongue: It’s a lot easier to wait and then do it than it is to do it and then try to undo it. :o

But in terms of your initial question, I wouldn’t call it “wrong” in the sense of being a sin. It’s not a choice I’d make for myself, but I know good Catholics who disagree with me.


I don’t hire anyone, professional, paraprofessional or staff, with visible tattoos.

ProTip: I’m not the only employer who doesn’t.


These are links that give the best answers you’ll find here at CAF.

*]Has the church said anything official about body piercing and tattoos
*] Is excessive tattooing a mortal sin?


On a semi-related note, does anyone know if I could get a medal of St. Benedict tattoo and have it blessed like any other St. Benedict medal to the same effect?


Well that’s your business. I have a few friends with tattoos and they have gotten and kept jobs very easily. One of them even has a sleeve and kept his job. Tattoos are easy to cover up, especially since mine will just be words on my wrists. And if I need to cover up my tattoos to get and/or keep a job, I will.


I don’t think you would want to wear long sleeves every single day at work. I don’t have any tattoos, I don’t know what I would want on my body for the rest of my life. I have a friend who is a ZTA and she has a tattoo on her inner wrist. It is a 5 point crown (it’s a ZTA thing) and she has it done in white ink. You can’t really tell that it is there unless you know it is there, but she is super pale. lol.

I had a carefree attitude when I was 18. Instead of getting a tattoo when I went on my senior beach trip, I got my nose pierced. lol. I definitely don’t have it now, I took it out like 2 years later, and you can’t even tell that I had it pierced. Tattoos don’t go away like a piercing.


Haha yeah I have my ears pierced twice xP but I wouldn’t have to wear long sleeves haha. They would be on my wrists and down my side. You wouldn’t see the one down my side unless I was wearing something that revels that and my wrists could be easily covered up with tattoo cover. I definitely will get it in black ink. I thi k white ink looks nice sometimes but I’m too pale for that xD and I want people to see it. For a job interview I would cover it up. And if the job requires it, I would cover it up while I’m working.


just remember how bad they will look when you get older, talk to an old person and they will tell you how emarrassed they are by them… and on your wrists for all to see forever !!! getting communion, shaking hands with an interviewer for a job , you future mother in law etc etc etc…

years ago alot of girls got those “tramp stamps” on their lower back and knowing alot of them now they hate the day they got it cause their kids now laugh at them, and their weight and age changed and now they look wrinkled and bad…

and they cant ever get rid of them,

forever is forever
fun now bad later



Perhaps start with henna or other temporary versions of your planned tattoo and ask for feedback from friends, family, and business owners/managers in the type of industry you want to work in.

They might advise you to get a bracelet, instead. (There are some nice ones out there, too.)


Although the OT forbids tattoos twice that I can recall, at least once, the Church doesn’t follow all OT laws. I don’t think the Church expressly forbids them and a pretty good number of people have them who go to Church.

Personnally, I don’t recommend them, but it’s up to your own conscience.


Tattoos are not forbidden by Church teaching and most commentary I’ve read on them advises being prudent. There are Catholics who think they are wrong and even more who just don’t like them. And there are Catholics who have tattoos and love them and others who have tattoos and regret it for various reasons.

I don’t have any tattoos (I do have an eyebrow piercing) but I’ve considered it.There are a two bits of advice I keep in mind when I consider a getting a tattoo. First, keep an image of the tattoo you want someplace you can see everyday and if you still want it in a year, go for it. Secondly, I read somewhere that someone said, “I wouldn’t want to live in a house I decorated in the 70’s so I wouldn’t want to live in skin I decorated in the 70s.” I hate 70s décor so this really resonates with me. :smiley:

Some tattoos are timeless and some, not so much. Some tattoos can be removed but others cannot.

Thanks for mentioning the cover-ups. I hadn’t seen those before.


It’s a personal decision and think its something to really think about. When I was your age, the only people tatooing were the service guys or the bikers, most of them during a drunken moment.

Which makes me think of that funny movie with Robin Williams called Old Dogs. His wife divorces him so his friend takes him out to celebrate his freedom and during a drunken moment, ends up in a tatoo parlor to get the word “Free Man” tatooted across his chest and instead ends up with the word “Freemont” tatooted on him instead.

My main concern would be with contracting an infectious disease like Hep.C or HIV thru dirty needles.

Link from the CDC:

which basically they say,

"Can you get Hepatitis C by getting a tattoo or piercing?

A few major research studies have not shown Hepatitis C to be spread through licensed, commercial tattooing facilities. **However, transmission of Hepatitis C (and other infectious diseases) is possible when poor infection-control practices are used during tattooing or piercing. **Body art is becoming increasingly popular in the United States, and unregulated tattooing and piercing are known to occur in prisons and other informal or unregulated settings. Further research is needed to determine if these types of settings and exposures are responsible for Hepatitis C virus transmission."

I always err on the side of caution especially when the government says they need more testings. So whats it going to take 20 more years of research and countless infected people for them to come up with this conclusion? It reminds me of cigarette smoking?


I can understand how you would like to honor your sister who has autism, but maybe there is a more creative way to honor her thru maybe a piece of jewlery, like a bracelet with those inscribed words on it. You could add your sisters name. Also you may even start your own business or venture with a jewlery maker to advocate for families with loved ones with autism. Jane Seymore did with her cause!. Why not you!

Good luck!


Have someone/the tatoo artist will if you want (no idea what they charge for that) use a pen/sharpie (there may be something else they want to use- henna?) to do this first. You keep it filled in/fresh, and if you still like it in 6mo, then look into having it done. The people I know who have tatoo’s, and still love all of them years later, take that approach.


I like the idea another poster mentioned about looking at a drawing of your tattoo daily for a year before getting one.

My son, 23 - hair to his waist - very free spirited - says that the human brain doesn’t stop developing until around 25. Although he probably will get a tattoo some day, he says it will be after the age of 25. He’s followed that thought for a very long time. He has many friends with tattoos and said sometimes they regret them soon after getting them.

I often ask people to tell me about their tattoos. I have noticed that it is sometimes hard to read those that are words.

Keep in mind the changing shape through adulthood of most people’s sides. Stretch marks - common for many women - could alter the script. You may have a different favorite saying at age 28 or 38 - which really isn’t that far away from you at age 18 - time flies.


Beware that in ancient times tattoos and piercings were considered signs of slavery.

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