What Does the Tattoo “smile Now, Cry Later” Mean?

“Smile now, cry later” tattoos typically refer to the idea of living life to the fullest now and worrying about the consequences afterwards. The phrase “smile now, cry later” is inscribed beneath images of stage masks, skulls, or bells in the most popular tattoo designs.

Tattoos with the phrase “Smile now, cry afterwards” are common in prisons, suggesting that inmates should remain tough while incarcerated and may cry after they are released. To remember a loved one who has passed away is a less common reason for getting a tattoo. The user is supposed to laugh today at the recollections of the individual and grieve later at the loss of them.


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