I have a few friends who don't quite understand my lack of understanding of tattoos and body piercings. I've been meaning to broach this topic for a while, but avoided it for fear of offending someone. Sometimes no comment is worse than a politically incorrect comment, so today I'll go ahead and tempt fate.
The original offense I committed actually was on match.com where I selected "turn off" under "tattoos" in my profile. This immediately caused distress to one of my friends who obviously had some ink and (I'm interpreting now) probably thought I somehow found her awful and disgusting (for the record, the answer to that is no). On the other hand, when it comes to attraction, I don't find tattoos and certain body piercings to be, well, attractive.
I started to think about why this wasn't attractive to me. Aside from the obvious answer ("to each their own") I believe part of this is a generational thing. When I was growing-up in my formative years in the late 60s through the 70s tattoos were something you saw on military men and bikers (guys with motorcycles). If you saw tattoos on a woman, it was not considered fashionable (considered kind of "lower class"). Piercing anything except your ears was pretty much unheard-of (except in some eastern cultures). The idea of putting anything through your tongue was downright gross. That was 30-40 years ago. Times may have changed, but for many of us in our late 40s our concept of beautiful (from an appearance perspective) has been pretty much sealed.
That doesn't mean I'm so closed-minded as to think of pierced-up, tattooed people as lower class or disgusting (usually), but it does affect how I am attracted to them in a romantic or sexual way. Before hitting "reply" and calling me all sorts of names, consider that too many women seem to consider a guy who's 5'6" to be too short, and that's just the beginning. We all have our idea of what is and isn't beautiful. I also can't tell you why pierced ears (once pierced, not 5 in each ear) and a pierced nose looks nice, but a pierced eye brow, under-the-lip, nipple, belly button, etc. doesn't look nice to me. I still think the pierced or split tongue is gross. Sorry folks.
Now back to my lack of understanding: I don't even understand why anyone would get tattoos or unusual (to me) piercings. There is a certain amount of pain associated with each. I don't understand the meaning of most of the tattoos, and why someone would want to make it a permanent part of their body. If the answer is, "to make me unique" or "to express myself" then that's probably why I don't understand. I just don't understand the body as a canvas for artistic expression. Creativity is a turn-on, but I look for it on a more cerebral level such as a painting, a song, writing, a computer program, or some scientific discovery (as examples).
To go a step further (and possibly offend even more people), I tend to be more attracted to women who wear little to no make-up than to someone who has tried to look "nicer" by adding unnatural coloring to their face/eyes and so on. On an unconscious level, it's likely that I see that someone who is comfortable with their natural beauty and are comfortable with who they are, and are strong enough to reveal their real self. I've heard some people comment on women who don't wear make-up to be lazy, or poorly dressed, and I just don't agree. Then again, I never have been one to go with the crowd. This one isn't a generational thing, it's just feelings peculiar to me.
Really, though, what looks nice and doesn't is an individual thing. If tattoos were a universally-admired feature, then match.com wouldn't have that specific item in a list of turn-ons/turn-offs. The question my friend posed was, "If someone had a small tattoo that wasn't normally visible, would she be someone you would immediately eliminate as someone you would date?" I probably wouldn't immediately eliminate her so long as there was something about her that made that one thing less visible in my mind. Seriously, isn't that what we all do in one form or another? "I don't like his big nose, but his charm makes up for it!" "He's kind of short, but he has a great sense of humor and really treats me well." This is one reason why computer matchmaking is full of problems. It's hard to justify what makes-up attraction and lack of it, though.