From the mailbag this morning—yet another person selling us her p.r. services. (We get a lot of those, clearly from people who have no idea who we are or what we do. Here's one from yesterday: "What Can The Right IT Systems Management Tool Do For Loaded For Bear Publishing?" Hm. I dunno. Go fuck itself?)

Anyway, this morning's marketing email is about tattoos:

This past Saturday I was in a ballet class and noticed the tattoo on the dancer in front of me. Nicole had a large butterfly tattoo on her back. For me, this was a branding moment. I don't know Nicole that well, but I do know that butterflies are so meaningful to her that she wants one on her back for the rest of her life. According to a 2012 Harris Poll, one in five American adults has at least one tattoo, which is up dramatically from polls conducted in 2003 and 2008.

Tattoos are much more than body adornment, but have become a powerful expression of your individual brand. In fact, tattoos are the ultimate branding statement.

(Wouldn't being branded be the ultimate branding statement?)

Now that the Seattle weather is getting warmer and the clothes are getting scarcer, the tattoos are coming out—which always presents a dilemma for me. Last weekend, for example, I was at the beach and some of my fellow bathers were like walking billboards, if billboards were designed by stoned skateboarders: acronyms, sentences that didn't parse, arcane symbols. (My favorite was a jaggedly drawn dagger with the letters "PMS.") I wanted to ask about each tattoo's back story, but didn't. It felt like prying. But p.r. lady says tattoos are branding, and de facto public.

What do you think, Sloggers? Now that summer is here, is it okay to ask strangers about their tattoos?