(CNN) -- More than a third of 18- to 40-year-olds in the United States have a tattoo, a Pew Research Center survey found last year. CNN.com asked readers to submit photos of their tattoos and tell us the stories behind them.
Melanie Trusty's tattoo on her right hip represents her family from Italy.
Melanie Trusty of Okemos, Michigan, got her first tattoo in March 2007. Trusty said she wanted to get a tattoo when she started college, but it took until her junior year to "think of something I really wanted and would like forever." Her tattoo features a butterfly, which represents her grandmother, and a clematis flower with vines surrounding the word "bella," Italian for "beautiful."
"I have a beautiful life and a beautiful character, because of my grandma's love," she said.
The Michigan State University senior said she was very nervous the day she got it. Her boyfriend was with her and got a tattoo, also.
Trusty said she was afraid that if she saw him in any pain that she would back out, so she insisted on getting hers first, which took about two hours. It hurt for the first 20 minutes, she said, but then started to feel numb.
Six months later, she got a second tattoo and plans to get at least one more. "I like that no one else has the same things that I have," she said.
Spencer Wilson has what he calls "the best tattoo ever." The two swirls on the inside of his index finger don't mean much by themselves, but when he holds his finger up to his face they look like a mustache.
"Ninety-nine-point-five percent of the time it will get a laugh," he said.
Wilson said most people think it's just pen ink because one side has faded, but he's planning on getting it retouched.
The 19-year-old from Laguna Niguel, California, looked at many different mustache styles, but decided on the simple one. He paid $60.
"It was relatively cheap, really funny, totally worth it," he said. E-mail to a friend