I know, I know. Tattoos are the ultimate form of individual expression. You are literally imprinting your self-identity on your body. It's a permanent part of you in an ever-changing world. So who's to say what makes a "good" or "bad" tattoo? At the end of the day, all that matters is that the tattoo-bearer is happy with it — because they're the one that has to live with it for the rest of their lives.
But, that doesn’t mean we don’t sometimes make regrettable decisions — including stars who have botched ink or a design that's deeply offensive. Take a look and see what you're into, and what you're not so wild about. Here are of the best and worst tattoos in Hollywood.
Best: Bella Hadid's Fly Ink
Celeb fave JonBoy gave the model a tiny wing on
each of her ankles
. So pretty and uplifting. And we love the unusual placement!
Best: Sofia Richie's Daddy Tribute The 18-year-old got a tiny cursive "L" in honor of dad Lionel Richie on her right ankle, courtesy of celebrity tattooist JonBoy. Sweet and simple — love it!
Photo: Courtesy of Miss Kat Paine's
Best: Maisie Williams & Sophie Turner's Thrones Tribute
In September, the
Game of Thrones
stars and real life BFFs got matching ink reading "07.08.09" to commemorate the day (August 7, 2009 — they're British) that they were cast as Stark sisters. The actresses didn't know it at the time, but the show would become a veritable phenomenon. “We don’t know if we’re going to make it, so Maisie and I were like let’s get these ones before somebody kills us or something," Turner
joked to E! News
at the Emmys while the ink was still fresh.
Photo: Via Snapchat.
Worst: Demi Lovato's Nightmarish Dreamcatcher
The singer has
nearly two dozen
tattoos on her body, and most of them are awesome (
). But the massive dreamcatcher on her rib cage — combined with the words "you make me beautiful " — is problematic. The tattoo is an appropriation of a meaningful object in Native American culture. Hanging something another culture holds sacred above your bed is one thing; getting it etched on your side as if its yours to own is a bit much.
Best: David Beckham's Stick Figure
You may be wondering, What drunk tattoo artist did
? This is actually from a
Beckham's 4-year-old daughter Harper.
Worst: Justin Bieber's Mascot Mistake
The sad truth is that we could literally devote a 100-page slideshow to all of the examples of cultural appropriation inked on famous people. But Bieber's shoulder blade illustration of a Native American Warrior is a little more misguided than your average flub. It was supposed to be
of his grandfather, who often
to Stratford Cullitons (formerly Warriors) ice hockey games when the little Biebs was growing up in Ontario. However, there's that whole issue of it being offensive to appropriate images of indigenous people as a mascot for your sports team.
Photo: Miguel Villagran/Getty Images.
Best: Lady Gaga's Bicep Philosophy
In a world full of clichéd ink, a passage by your favorite German writer that sums up your personal philosophy to you is pretty special. This is a passage by Rainer Maria Rilke that roughly
Confess to yourself in the deepest hour of the night whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. Dig deep into your heart, where the answer spreads its roots in your being, and ask yourself solemnly, Must I write?”
, “I had this tattooed on my arm so that every single day I would be reminded that my gift is songwriting and I have to do it. It’s not an option. It’s like breathing.”
Photo: Jim Smeal/REX/Shutterstock.
Best: Selena Gomez's Self-Love The pop princess got "love yourself first" inked in Arabic below her right shoulder blade. What young girl can't use that advice on the daily?
Photo: Jim Smeal/BEI/REX/Shutterstock.
Worst: Hayden Panettiere's Italian Regret
"Live without regrets" is a great motto until you spell it regretfully wrong. The actress got "vivere senza rimipianti" on her back, but she spelled the last word wrong. (It should be “rimpianti.") Thankfully, even mistakes made in permanent ink are reversible with the help of
Best: Rita Ora's Tiny Smiley The Brit's happy face on her right earlobe is small, simple, and really freaking cute. Who doesn't want everlasting joy?
Photo: JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images.
Worst: David Beckham's Hindi Hiccup
The loving husband got his wife's name "Victoria" inscribed on his arm in Hindi script. While his intentions were lovely, his execution was a little off: The tattoo
his beloved's name as "Vihctoria." Good thing nobody will notice (except for, you know, the millions of people who speak Hindi.)
Photo: Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images.
Worst: Iggy Azalea's "Live, Love, ASAP"
We're not ones to pick on people whose relationships weren't as permanent as they had hoped, but the singer herself is the first one to disparage her three-finger tat that she got when she was with rapper A$AP Rocky. "Its all fun & games getting dumb shit tatted under the premise youll 'just get it lasered off when im older' untill u actually have to do it [sic]" she
before crossing it out (seen here) and later beginning the
Photo: Luca Teuchmann/Getty Images.
Best: Rihanna's Silver-Lining Rihanna's charcoal-grey collarbone ink reads, "Never a failure, always a lesson — but backwards, so she can read it in the mirror. When the artist asked RiRi about the tattoo, she reportedly said "It’s kind of my motto in life for everything. Instead of considering things to be mistakes, considering them lessons." Words to live by, in our minds.
Best: Drew Barrymore's Kiddie Love
We're all about getting your children's names tattooed — loving your offspring forever is usually a pretty safe bet. And while cryptic, complex tattoos (
It's the date of their birthdays! In a circle! In Sanskrit! Backwards!
) are all the rage, we're digging Barrymore's understated and refreshingly not overthought
on it. Olive and Frankie are her daughters, ages 3 and 1. The mom
a ""great little lifetime note."
Best: Demi Lovato's Warrior Pose
This quote is about how the singer has turned her own struggles into strength — she wrote a song called "Warrior" that echoes the sentiment. "It’s a negative thing turned positive. I’ve been through a lot and I’m really really honest on this album," she
Jimmy Fallon. "[The tattoo] was kind of like a tribute to releasing the album as well as overcoming some really really difficult things in my life."
Worst: Ed Westwick's Trashy Bicep
“It’s a topless lady. My mother hates it,” the actor
. We have to agree with Mrs. Westwick on this one.
In case you're wondering, the illuminating text above it reads, "She's A Pin-Up." Fascinating.
Best: Lea Michele's Grandmotherly Love
The queen of tiny tattoos bursting with meaning got this one for her grandmother who died earlier this year. "I lost my beautiful grandma this week," she
on Instagram. "She wasn't your typical grandma. She gave me my first cup of coffee when I was 8 years old. She said something inappropriate to every boyfriend I've ever had. She never made pie or knit me a sweater. But she was my grandma and I loved her... More than anything.. I love you Grandma. ❤️."
Photo: David Fisher /REX/Shutterstock.
Worst: RiRi's Hand Henna The Barbadian singer has a lot of tattoos, and they're not all equally awesome. Is this one beautiful? Yes, but it's problematic too. Henna art has a real cultural (and sometimes religious) significance in India, as well as elsewhere in South Asia and the Middle East. On the pop star's arm, it's just a pretty decoration.
Best: Cara Delevingne's Meditative Memos The supermodel's delicately scripted tattoos are beautiful and brilliant. We could all use aesthetically pleasing reminders to do two little things we forget to all the time: Take a deep breath, and shut the fuck up. Plus, we love that unusual white lettering.
Best: Kylie Jenner's Touching Tribute The younger Jenner sister got this small red tattoo to celebrate her grandparents. "Mary Jo" is her grandmother's name — and it's inked in her grandfather's handwriting. Very unique and very sweet.
Worst: Chris Brown's Neck Nonsense
The rapper has his entire neck and throat (ow) inked out, but the one we take special issue with is that banged up woman's face on his right side. People think it looks an awful lot like the face of a battered woman. The artist
his work, calling it a total misinterpretation. The singer's rep
it was inspired by Mexican sugar skulls and a MAC cosmetics design. Either way, it just reminds us of his history of domestic violence — not a good look.
Best: Kendall Jenner & Hailey Baldwin's BFF Stamps These teeny tiny hearts are better than best-friend-forever jewelry. Kylie's is the one in white, while her bestie Hailey got it in red. Why we're huge fans: They're incredibly adorable, subtle, and hidden in that "just for us" way — and best of all, they'll never lose them. Best friends forever.
Best: Ellie Goulding's Geometric Gold The British singer has hella tattoos, but her most recent is maybe our favorite. We love the intricate design of concentric circles and squares. It looks like a flower-compass-blueprint. And we're not even going to pretend to know what it symbolizes. We just know it's really awesome looking.
Best: Lea Michele's Tiny Tribute
What does the number five mean to the actress? It was the jersey number of Finn, the football player that Michele's late boyfriend Cory Monteith played alongside her on
. She took the actual jersey
right after filming wrapped for good, and then gave herself a permanent reminder this year. She wrote on Instagram, "for my Quarterback..
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