here is a magazine story and podcast that I wrote for Distillations. Both are based on research I conducted at the Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic at UC-Irvine.
Second Chances [LINK]
Tattoos are more than decoration. For many people they are lasting symbols of belief, marks of affiliation, declarations of self. But what can you do when the way you look no longer matches who you are?
Rethinking Ink [LINK]
There was a time when tattoos were taboo, and you thought long and hard before getting one. Today 20 percent of American adults are inked. Tattoos just don’t carry the stigma they once did—unless it’s a particular kind of tattoo, in a particular place on the body.
Fortunately, as our penchant for getting tattoos has grown, so has our ability to get rid of them. In the 1960s researchers started experimenting with lasers to remove tattoos, and since then the technology has dramatically improved. Now we can erase our past, whether it’s a sailor’s bad decision from overseas or a gang identifier that prevents its owner from getting a job—and could even get him killed.
Sociologist and Beckman Legacy Project research fellow Joseph Klett traces the modern history of tattoo removal through the stories of his father—a retired sailor—and ex-gang members in California.