“Tramp stamp” is the slightly derogatory nickname people have assigned to lower back tattoos. But a lot of us have them: Nearly 25% of the American population aged 18 to 50 has a tattoo, out of which almost 20% of the women have a lower back tattoo (source). Check out these 5 most common categories of “tramp stamps” we’ve seen lurking out the back of low-rise jeans lately.

1. Chinese characters. “What’s her lower back tattoo, a Chinese character that she thinks means ‘love,’ but really means ‘I have chlamydia’?” – Liz Lemon on “30 Rock”

The Asian character tattoos have become something of a cliche for American white girls who like the “exotic” look of the language but couldn’t in actuality distinguish Korean from Japanese. Let’s just hope they get a trusty translator friend before they head to the tattoo parlor to get the needle searing into their lower backs.



2. Tribal design. Just as men were getting tribal style arm bands tattooed during the 90′s, women took the trend and migrated it lower. These are geared more for body ornamentation than anything meaningful, unless you’re actually Native American, etc. (My friend is part Mohegan and she has tribal symbols from her tribe, and they’re pretty cool).


3. Fairies. They’re magical, ethereal, and otherworldly, and if they’re done right, they can look coolly mystical, even though fairy tattoos in general are a bit of a cliche these days. P.S. Tinkerbell doesn’t count.


4. Butterflies. What girl hasn’t contemplated a butterfly tattoo in her lifetime? I have to admit, shapewise, they’re perfect for the lower back. Bonus points if you accompany it with a schmaltzy word like “Believe” or “Dream.”


5. Crosses. It might seem incongruous to plaster a holy symbol on your lower region,  but I’ve seen everything from Celtic crosses to crucifixes to full-on Bible verses in the tramp stamp territory.


Bonus: the Barbie tramp stamp. (A Barbie with a Ken tattoo was released last year!)

Ok, Lovelies, weigh in: do you have a so-called “tramp stamp”? What do you think about their look?