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Oct 8, 2010

Tattoo, YOU?

OK, guys, I know I'm treading on thin ice here.  But I must ask.  When did tattoos become the new pierced ear?

Don't get me wrong -- I love tattoos.  Some of the time.  They can be stunning to look at, as above.  And they can make a powerful statement, every day and for the rest of your life.

When I was growing up, the only people I ever saw with tattoos were men who'd been in the navy and barbers -- who had probably been in the navy.  Today you can get them at the mall.

How did we get from 1) the statement, I love Patsy Cline...

to  2) the T-shirt...

to 3) the bicep?

Does #3 necessarily love Patsy more than #1?

When did words fail to say it sufficiently or am I missing the point?  Why is it important that we express to strangers things they probably have no interest in knowing about us to begin with?  (BTW, I'm also against college T-shirts when you're no longer in college.)

How about little Shirley?

Or this (May the force be with you)?

Here are just a few of the obstacles I don't seem to be able to overcome with regard to tattoos:

1) They hurt like hell to get (or so I've heard).

2) They are permanent -- if your taste/lifestyle changes, you're outta' luck.

3) They are everywhere, which seems to diminish their cachet (not that cachet is necessarily important to someone getting a tattoo).

4) They turn the color of bathtub mildew with the passing of the years:

I know I'm probably expressing the minority viewpoint among my readers, most of whom are anarchist types who don't wear underwear, but I'm willing to risk being considered stodgy to get some clarity.

Wise readers, what are your thoughts about tattoos? Do you have any?  Do you admire them on others but wouldn't think of getting one yourself?

Are they fashion, art or fetish? 

Stodgy middle-aged man seeks enlightenment!


  1. I don't have them, and also would not want one, due to the look of aging and the pain. I remember only seeing them, too, on servicemen, especially from Vietnam era, gangs and non-conformists, growing up. We just grew up being taught it was not something you came home and showed mom. Now, I have learned to appreciate the artwork, respect if someone has one, but still believe they are not for me. BTW, my husband never got one during his 6 years in the navy - he always said if he was meant to get one, God would have made him a coloring book. That's what he usually said when asked to come along to the tattoo parlors.

  2. I'm too fickle to commit to a tattoo. I know there would come a day when I'd regret it, wish it wasn't there, and the only choice would be expensive laser removal procedures. My cousin went through this, and it was painful, bank account draining, and time consuming. I've seen tattoos that range from magnificent to inane -- those leafy eyebrows fit in the latter category. If someone with more confidence in their aesthetic constancy wants to make the commitment, I applaud them. As for me, the longest commitment I want to make is an eyebrow wax.

  3. Oh, believe me, you're not in the minority. I still consistently get comments from readers about how I'd be so much prettier/more professional/more successful without mine!

    Tattoos have shifted in their cultural significance, and are, at this point, ubiquitous to the point of seeming cliche. But! If you still want to get one despite that - which is how I've felt about all five of mine - then you'll never regret your choices. Sounds like you're not ready yet, Peter. ;)

  4. i have a bunch, started 30 years ago and got my most recent last week. I don't regret a single one and love having them. I've never cared a bit what other people think of me, and yes I've managed to hold a job the entire time, with 19 years at a bank starting as a teller and ending as a manager - then it was all about placement and hiding them but now I don't give a @$^#$*. Do I think they are for everybody? No. But if you want one, get one. If you don't, don't. Humans have been modifying their bodies one way or another since they learned to draw with charcoal, just some changes are more "permanent" than others :)

  5. Tattoo? Heck, I don't even have a 2nd earlobe piercing! Tattoos used to be for bad asses and sailors; now they are everywhere. I don't get the fascination. When I'm feeling subversive, I use black or blue toenail polish. It's so much easier to get rid of than a tattoo. ;-)

  6. I've got a couple tattoos, one on my upper back and one on each ankle. They are easy to cover up at work, and represent things that are important to me. I'd guess that it's one of those 'counter culture' things that got picked up by pop culture. Like when 'grunge' or 'goth' styles became popular. I've heard the number is something like 1 in 3 people has a tattoo now, that doesn't mean they have vine eyebrows or full sleeves, but my 52 year old Aunt just got one. A little lotus on her ankle. It's a way to individualize yourself from the masses a little bit more I think. My 70 something neighbor asked how much mine hurt because she was thinking about getting one 'just for the experience'.
    I think the reasons for getting them are different for different people, but for me it does represent a dedication to a certain type of 'lifestyle' if that's what it should be called, it's a freedom I can exert over my body.

  7. I love tattoos and have three myself. I think that they can be a beautiful expression but I would caution that they are better left for a more mature time in your life. I got my first one while still in high school, it was only the second rebellious thing I had done in my life. In fact, I sorta had permission so it was not even truly rebellious. That tattoo, of my name, is the one I wish I never got. At least not on my arm, which is difficult to cover all the time. This semi regret is not enough to stop me from planning more, though.

  8. To get a tattoo these days for the shock and awe factor seems, well, stupid to me. To shave ones eyebrows and get tattoos instead? Ooooh, aren't you like all edgy and stuff. That said, I have one on my arm. But it's for me and not to be hip, subversive or rebellious.

    I just think that if you're going to spend the money on something permanent on your body, you need to do it for the right reasons, that it's somehow meaningful and not because it'll piss off your mother. But hey, that's just me.

  9. LOL

    My mother got her first tattoo when she was not much younger than you, Peter.

    Obviously they should be (and aren't always) undertaken with caution and taste, but in general I love them. I'm waiting for the perfect intersection of inspiration, opportunity, and artistry before I get one myself. :)

    PS quit dodging. Get sewing. :)

  10. I never and probably never will get one either. When I was 13 my ex-step sister was making homemade tattoos of her boyfriend's initials all over her body (she was 13 as well). I thought it was a bad idea even at 13. And I can't even imagine how many she has now.

    I agree with you on 'cachet' issue. Which is probably my biggest reason for never getting one. Back when all my peers were getting the lower back tats I opted out and now I'm really glad I did. It looks so trendy.

    My dad has two on his arms but it is fitting because he's more of the biker type.

    If I ever did get one it would be not larger than 3/4" and be on a place barely seen. I guess that would have to be my inner thigh. Sort of like a birthmark. But I really don't have any plans to do this. I can't imagine anything I would want to put there permanently.

  11. I don't mind tattoos -- especially those that have meaning to a person, but perhaps the facial or full body ones should have a minimum age requirement, like 40?? or maybe 60?? Does such an obvious statement allow one room to grow and change? I don't know the answer to that, but I do know that I would not like to look into the mirror to be constantly reminded of myself as i was in my 20s.

  12. Tattoos. I love them. True they do not age well. I can't get around that one, except to say that lovers of tattoos will happly look like an old wrinkly man as long as they get to keep the smile on there face. Tthat man has a story book all over his skin. I think the old guy with all the tats, looks happy and interesting. I would hang out with him,

    It is all in the way your view tattoos. Yes you will grow and change but the tattoo marks a moment in your life. I think that is why so many people do memorial tats.

    They are conversation pieces. Not everyone has the time, skill, or money to make there own cloths like we are lucky enough to do. So they have body art. Because a tatto is so often a representation of a moment or phaze in ones life, conversation quickly becomes a personal story. Tattoos can connect us to eachother. They unite generations. They unite minorities. In a global world full of so many unique and wonderful kinds of people it is increasingly difficult to find someone similar to yourself.
    They are a way to label yourself. I know not everyone wants that, but some of us do. It is a sense of community. I guess a patch could do the same thing.
    As far as hurting, I don't know who you talked to but they do not always hurt. It depends on where you have it done. All the slightly fluffy parts of your body can take the tattoo gun with minor irritation. The parts of your body where bone is close to your skin, hurts.

    I have one tattoo on my hip. It is a ship and represents my life before family. I was a traveler and always on the move. I will add an anchor, now that I have a home and a family. It didn't hurt on my hip, it still looks good after 2 babies, and I am not sick of it after 12 years. I love tats but I keep mine under raps because I like the ability to reinvent myself when ever I see fit.

    My husband has many tattoos. He has some artwork from a friend that was just starting out. They look ugly because the guy was learning but he loves them. They are his fav. pieces because of the time he spent with his friend, and his friend is now a very talented and popular artist. My husband has tattoos with our girls names, and the flower that represents them. I love to watch my girls and there dad cuddling together as they talk about how this tattoo is "me," and that tattoo is sister's.

    I am glad to have tattoos in my life. As a artist I just love artwork every where. It is not for everyone, but I think it is a interesting cultural movement.

  13. A tattoo definitely isn't for me - it's not so much the 'shock horror middle aged housewife gets tattoo and frightens the neighbours' thing, it just seems too much of a commitment for me. However, if other people want to decorate their body that's fine by me. I have seen some very elegant and attractive tattoos but also some pretty awful looking ones - so I think a tattoo needs some careful thought and artistic vision.

  14. I would never! Ha ha, kidding.

    I'm with Sal here. People seem to think they're expressing something unpopular if they say they dislike tattoos. When I can't tell you how many mean-spirited comments I've had to delete from my blog telling me that I look ugly with tattoos.

    Also, I take a little offense at the statement "they don't age well." That older gentleman looks delighted with himself. And why shouldn't he be? He seems happy and healthy. Quite frankly, who are we to judge whether or not his look has aged well?

  15. Beautifully expressed, Jeni!

  16. I didn't mean to offend. A personal obstacle for me is that tattoos themselves over many years fade and lose their sharpness. The old man does indeed look happy and healthy; his tattoos look less so to me (but obviously not to everyone).

  17. I admire them, but I don't understand the culture of them. I see people getting them without any real thought to how they appear on the body, look in clothes or perceived by others. I have seen brides that need to camouflage them, I've seen job applicants denied over the tattoo-less, mothers who were trying to have classy showers having to pick and choose their outfits so that the tatts don't show.

    I don't get it either. But I am almost 40. Maybe I'm not supposed to. Ask about piercings.... I have loads of those.

  18. Not for me. There's absolutely nothing I want to memorialize in that fashion. Occasionally I see a tattoo that I really like, and I will compliment the person, but mostly I'm indifferent. I wonder sometimes "what were they thinking" when I see some tattoos, especially on people in places (white collar professions mostly) where they seem out of place.

    My son (26) has several. He started when he was 18 years and 15 minutes old, I think - as soon as he was legally able to get one and pay for it himself. His first one says "Imagine if we were an army..." (song lyrics) on his back. He printed the words out from his computer, and the "artist" copied them exactly, including the Courier New font. :-( He regrets that one, as well as the "growing up is giving up" on his upper chest, also in plain black ink. He would like to get them removed someday.

    He does have an adorable tattoo of a car filled with colorful animals across his deltoid (upper arm/shoulder) which he likes. So do I and so does his 5-year-old sister.

    My favorite tattoo joke: Two elderly women were in a beauty parlor getting their hair done, when in walked a young woman with a low-cut blouse that revealed a beautiful rose tattooed on one boob.

    One woman leaned over to the other and said, "Poor thing. She doesn't know it, but in 50 years she'll have a long-stemmed rose in a hanging basket."

    Kinda sums up my sentiments on the subject.

  19. I was only offended because I want that old dude to be my boyfriend. I love him!

  20. Peter, I'm with Tanat-Isis. Quit procrastinating! That corduroy jacket isn't going to sew itself! Chalk tatoos up to personal choice and move on.

  21. My sister-in-law is now 40 and still smokin' hot. She had her whole back tatted when she was still in her teens. I was amazed that she had the nerve to make such a commitment. The edges are no longer crisp and clear. I think you could get tough-up work if you want to revive your tattoo. She says now that she would not do it again, given the choice.

    I don't really have a point here.

    I do think that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it's aging that some find unattractive. I like the look of aging better now that I am aging, myself. Funny how that works!! LOL.

    A tattoo for my daughter? Sure - do what you want.
    For myself? NO! Because it's not my style. I am proud of my I-love-Talbot's point of view ;)

    All things in moderation for me.
    Great post Peter, you are so fun to read! I always look forward to your posts.

  22. Both of my children have tattoos, My dd's is a violin on her shoulder. It's kind of cool. My son on the other hand has 3 of the ugliest tattoos around. They are also very indicative of when he got them. He was 18 years old. So was my dd, but her's was designed and though about for a long time before she did it. Indicative of their personalities.
    I appreciate well done, artistic tattoos, but that's rather subjective isn't it? At 60 I am not about to go out and get one however. It has certainly gotten to be mainstream. I went to art school 40 years ago and no one had tattoos. But today, one of my best clients has a tattoo business. He owns both shops, and the supply business that supports his family rather well and no one would say he's out of the mainstream with his beautiful home and 3 kids. He and his wife are both tattooed.

  23. I want to preface this by saying that I have two piercings in each ear. I haven't worn earrings in them in long enough that they'll have to be repierced (lost my earrings moving, too broke to buy more) for me to wear stuff again, but I digress.

    I considered a tattoo once or twice, but.... I hate needles. The idea of paying someone to stick needles in me over and over again is a major turn off. I have nothing against people with tattoos, and I've seen some gorgeous ones, I can't do it. No needles for me. At least piercings are over with quickly!

  24. Sue, I've been sick all week. It's all I can do to blog, do you expect me to SEW too? LOL

  25. I don't have any and can't imagine a circumstance where I'll ever get one, but I say live and let live. If you like tats, get one, if not, don't. I have seen interesting and beautiful tattoos on people, but I have also seen some horrid ones, like the DIY tattoos lots of women seem to have on their knuckles.
    I do think that people make judgments regarding those who are heavily tattooed. Most especially against women who are heavily tattooed and that really annoys me.

  26. I don't mind them but it annoys me how they are getting more mainstream and even accepted in the workplace.... along with piercings.

  27. I don't have any as they're just not my scene. My brother about had a heart attack telling me he was getting one and was then shocked when I said that it didn't bother me in the slightest and ooooh, what was he getting and where?! Heh. ;) I really don't mind them on others although I don't think they should be taken on lightly. A creative and artistic eye tend to lead to a "classier" (for lack of a better word) look.

  28. Body modification has been around in every culture since the dawn of man. In the last 200 years we finally get a hang up about it?

    And I *HATE* the adage, "You will regret them when you are old!"
    Hey, if my tattoos are the only thing I hate when Im old, then I consider that doing pretty well! NOTHING ages well when you are old, its all a matter of taking care of yourself.

    Body mods are personal, IMO and Im fine with that. Like anything people get stupid stuff done, but if it hurts no one, then I respect their choice to do so.

  29. My mom has some awesome tattoos. On one arm she has a lotus flower and on the other a amazing dragon dragon.

    SHe got them to cover up some tats before she got before I was born. She had a snake thing and an symbol that her friend did in college, and a naked lady.

    I Loved that naked lady as a little kid, I used to kiss it goodnight.

    I love tats when there are well done, and actually mean something to the person that got them

    I'm 16 but when I am of age I am planning on getting tattoos. I want small Star Trek symbol. I also want something Star Wars, it is very important to me becuase it brought me closer to my dad. But anyway, I'm not sure exactly what I'm going to do, but i have sometime to think about it.

    I'm gonna make sure I spend lots of time thinking it through, I don't want to be like the people on this

    Sorry, that was a bit of rambling

  30. I love my tattoo. It's small and in a place where no one ever sees it. I can't even see it unless I look over my shoulder in the mirror. It's ridiculous and very raver/hippie and girlie and glows in black light which is probably going to give me cancer. It no longer represents who I am as an image, but it completely represents who I am as a person: a person with a past and a sense of humor...who used to go to raves. :) I love when I go to giant rockabilly festivals and some old guy says to me "Look at these girls. You should be glad you're not tattooed" I just smile. I love my tattoo!!

  31. My grandfather had two: a butterfly on his upper arm that he would make flutter to amuse the children when they were little; and, his regimental tattoo on his forearm. My older daughter has two: tiny Chinese script on her upper back meaning peace and strength (I think), both researched to make they were correct. None for me who's allergic to everything, fickle, and not up for the pain.

    I do love the Japanese full colour full body suits. Such artistry! And the full colour blue birds in flight I saw on a man's feet a few years ago. They were truly beautiful work. But most tattoos aren't that interesting or artistic, and a lot seem not well thought out, so, as usual, I'm firmly on both sides of the fence.

  32. Welcome Zoe and others! Zoe, Sal provided some great links in comment #3. She has some excellent things to say about the process of choosing a tattoo.

  33. "Why is it important that we express to strangers things they probably have no interest in knowing about us to begin with?"

    If we didn't care about expressing ourselves to strangers, would we sew cranberry corduroy suits?

  34. Oh Peter, fashion, art AND fettish! Depends on what the tattoo symbolizes for the wearer and the placement. I have 2 tattoos and I was going more for the art/symbolism thing. Both of them are generally covered by clothing, but when I wear short skirts or my bathing suit, you can see a beautiful sword cascading down my leg with vines and roman numerals on it. The numerals are a reference to a Bible verse, if you must know... deeply meaningful to me.

    I see tattoos as being just as much about vanity as makeup, stylish clothing, ear piercing etc. But I also think you must consider what your life is going to be like when getting them... because whether we want to admit it or not, jobs are had and not had based on tattoos in many places.

    Some of the most beautiful people I've known, though have tons of very visible tattoos that are very beautiful works of art. The aging is all in how you care for it (lotions, balms, touch ups etc). The rockabilly scene especially in the Atlanta area is full of tattoos covering people...

  35. ps. sometime checkout "sewing tattoos" in flickr. I've seen some pretty amazing ones!

  36. I have two that I got when I was 38 years old, one on the back of my neck and one on the top of my foot. Two of the more painful spots (very bony), both done on the same day ;-/

    Both of mine have great personal meaning for me. The one on the neck is an ancient symbol for the goddess representing the phases of a woman: the mother, maiden and crone, also past, present, future - interconnectedness.

    The foot is a playful fairy that reminds me that there is magic in the world if you believe. Even more special as both of my grown daughters have the same fairy.

    It has been 6 years and I don't regret them. In fact, I have been itching for 2 more: a compass rose and the phrase "Embrace Greatness" in Sanskrit.

    The only problem is, at 45 all of my 'good landscape' is taken! lol I am NOT baring thigh, hip or otherwise to a Tat artist.

  37. I love my tattoos, I have three and plan several more. They're all small and discreet, two were just for teh pretty and one has a really deep meaning for me. It's about decoration and embellishment and beauty for me - I love colour and shape and have doodled on myself and covered everything I own with stickers from early childhood.

    I really want a sewing tattoo to mark finally doing it for a living, possibly a button and stitched buttonhole, on the inside of my wrist.

  38. With you all the way on tattoos. Some are works of art, others are lovely; sadly they are outnumbered by those that just look grubby and ugly, or downright creepy (sweet little Shirley Temple?!). Gertie did a thing on sewing tattoos once, allowing me to discover that I have a phobia of sewing tattoos (shudder)...

    To your list of cons, I would add that I find them visually very distracting. Whilst they may look beautiful on naked skin, you have to choose your clothes (and fabrics) very carefully otherwise it just looks fussy and conflicting and the eye doesn't know where to settle anymore. I love prints, I hardly ever do solid colours, and in my view, prints and tattoos don't mix. And in the end, I'll choose the variety of prints over the permanence of tattoos anyday.

  39. #Emmy, just pressed 'post comment' to notice that you were thinking of getting a sewing tattoo. My phobia remark wasn't aimed at you, and I'm sure I'd be able to cope with the image of a button... but scissors, needles, sewing stitches into the skin, sorry, but I feel queasy just thinking about it...

  40. Never, never, never! While some of the artwork is wonderful, I would never want it on my body. I have commitment issues anyway. I dislike all body modifications.

  41. To me,skin that is tattooed looks dirty. I'm sure it is quite clean skin, but that's not how it reads at a glance, to me.

  42. Oh, Peter! Why did tattoos ever come out of prion and into the middle classes. And yes, they don't age well.

    Honey, you have a great procastination technique, but the wool for the suit is still sitting there!!!!

    Gaviota in Alicante

  43. I'm with New Vintage Lady- according to our age and looks obsessed society there is nothing on the body that "ages well," hence the face lifts, boob jobs, hair implants, etc. I know my skin doesn't look like it did 10 years ago, but I have always felt that you trade what's outside for something a little more profound inside. I have two tattoos that I got when I was 18. I don't love or hate them, I just accept them as a part of me like every other part of me. Would I get them today? Probably not, but I am still completely comfortable with them, just as I am comfortable with the other things about my body that make it unique. I would say that if one is the type of person that often feels regret regarding past decisions,they should spare themselves that regret and not get a tattoo. Aside from that, I enjoy self expression in its many forms, and even when I don't enjoy it, I still enjoy the fact that we have a right to it within reason. I wonder what lovely Cousin Cathy thinks about tattoos?

  44. I have two tattoos. One is a butterfly made out of my kids initials...and one is a dress form. :)

    To me, a tattoo is not a mark of who I will be for ever. It's a record of where I was at that place and time in my life. If my interests change and I stop sewing (unlikely) this time and place in my life is still important enough to remember....

  45. I love tattoos. i find most of them beautiful and fascinating. nothing about "rebellion", just personal taste. However, I think they're a bit like the clothes a person wears ... some do it badly, some do it well. I think it's horrid that beautiful women like Gertie and Sal receive comments telling them how ugly they look because of them. didn't their mothers teach them if they haven't got anything nice to say, don't say anything at all?! ;-)

  46. I have them and I love them. I think they they say something about who you were at a particular time in your life. I don't think they age poorly at all. I think as we age we can look at our tattoos and we can think "oh yes, this was important to me at that time because..."

    I may be more comfortable with tattoos because I'm a tad bit younger than you are. I'm of the generation that's tattooing themselves from head to toe. I never saw tattoos as something that only sailors or criminals would have. I've always seen them as a great form of self expression and a way to incorporate art into your body.

    Now I'm not saying that there aren't some horrid tattoos out there, that there aren't horrid tattoo artists, or that some tattooies have not made some bad choices (the vine eyebrows are a little too much for me...), but I think that there are also some seriously impressive and beautiful works of art out there that people are wearing on their bodies. I also think that tattoos can be incredibly personal. They're a way to outwardly express your interests and what's important to you or things that you've loved and lost.

  47. Evening! I have 2 holes in each ear-done at 12 (1st lot) and 18(2nd lot) I had my nose pierced at about 25 (It flew out whenever I sneezed!) I had a small seahorse tattoo on my lower back, I had it done whilst away for my husbands 30th (so about 9 yrs ago)I like it, not many see it. I did all the above because it showed who I am. As with many things your views change...I'd not have nose pierced If I'd known I'd have an annoying piece of gristle in it now! I never wear earrings anymore...But I'd still have my tattoo, and would consider having a small star for my 40th (on my hand-I saw someone with one and really liked it!)

  48. I just don't get tattooing. Nor do I get the earbolts that stretch large holes in the lobe. Nor do I get the tongue and nose and other body-part rings. Some people think this makes me a fuddy duddy. But I don't find these things practical or pleasing. Your readers may be anarchists in general Peter--I'm not saying people shouldn't get them. They can get them all they want. I'm just not going to pretend I like them.

    The permanency is one reason. I also don't find any of them attractive but rather detractive. I generally find a tattoo detracting from a lovely outfit or hairstyle or whatever. A positive attitude and a belief that the tattoo make the person wearing it happy has not helped me get over this feeling that the tattoo will likely be ugly in 40 years. My brother-in-law has the names of all his kids and his wife tattooed on his arms, except the font is unreadable so if people want to know what it says, they have to ask him. This wasn't the point, but I guess it's a conversational piece--like the guy needs another reason to talk to people and tell you his business.

    I'm kind of surprised the trend has lasted this long. When it started to get popular in the mid-90s, I really thought in would last a few years and then go away, but it seems to be gaining popularity. I really don't understand.

  49. Whatever rocks your boat. Not my thing though. I'm a purist and love clean skin. Somehow something so permanent seems binding to me. It does capture a moment in time, but just like my children, I cherish them at every stage, but enjoy the growth and change as well.

  50. No worries, Nathalie, I wasn't offended. I'm fine with people not liking tattoos, either in general or specific ones.

  51. In total agreement w/you (and many others apparently!). Tattoos were only for people who didn't know any better when I was growing up. I can't commit to a handbag that will cost me more than $30 -- no way I'm committing to a tattoo! LOL!

  52. I asked my sister about whether she regrets any of her tats and would she get them now, etc. She said that she wouldn't necessarily get the same tats now, but that I was missing the point. Each one reflects the place she was in life when she got it, and each was totally right for that point in time. SO, she loves them all because they remind her of her life's journey, which, I think is a rather beautiful sentiment. I think she'll probably get more as the years go by.

  53. On a completely random note, I hope that no one ever tatoos a portrait of me on their body anywhere... I mean, I wonder what Harrison Ford thinks of someone getting a Han Solo tat? It must be a bit surreal to see your face etched on someone else's flesh, no?

  54. My son and I were talking about this a while back. We were thinking that sometimes life puts it's mark on you: a scar that has a story, stretch marks from being pregnant, a limp, baldness--you get the idea. Maybe those marks tell who you are, maybe not. The body modifications are a expressive choice you get to make at a certain time and place, like Clio's sister.

    But, I must want people to have to work a bit to figure me out, because I don't even have pierced ears.

  55. As a stodgy, middle-aged, and somewhat indecisive woman, I can't imagine committing to a tattoo. AND I already have lots of body "art" in the form of freckles; tattoos would just be confusing I think.

    Mostly, I just mind my own business, but there are some I just don't like, because of what they represent. Prison and gang tattoos say to me that these people embrace a culture I actively despise. Facial tattoos are generally a ridiculous idea. Do you really want your tats to leave the first impression on someone? ALL the time? Think it through, people. The saddest to me are the all-over variety on very young people. Do you really want to use up your entire canvas at such a young age? To me, this does not leave room for growth or new experiences. It's like filling up your entire bookcase permanently; a person might want to add new books now and then.

    The one tattoo I would LOVE to see would be white gardenias on very dark skin. I hope someone is working on the formula for light color ink.

    Other than that, eh. Not for me, but whatever.

  56. Mine are for me. I have 2, one more visible than the other, and both in places where I hope skin will shift less. I love them. I thought long and hard about them, and for me, that's all that matters.

  57. I have two tattoos in places that are easy to cover up. They're smallish and in black ink only. The first, I got on my 18th birthday. My mom went with me and she got two tattoos. I am in my mid-twenties now and give a lot of thought to future tattoos, mostly their location, because one day I might have a 'career' and visible tattoos are usually frowned upon.

    My mom, on the other hand, has been 49 the last few years of her life and has a good idea of her life's trajectory. For that reason, she is fine with getting tattooed. The other day, she suggested we get matching sewing tattoos!

  58. "Why is it important that we express to strangers things they probably have no interest in knowing about us to begin with?"

    I think this is probably the main misconception that people who do not have tattoos or are not into the subculture have about people with (many, visible) tattoos: we don't get them for you to look at! Actually, we usually kind of hate it when you stare, touch us without asking, and ask us rude questions.

    It's something I put on my body - why would you assume it's for your benefit? Besides friends, family, and strangers, there's another important person who looks at my body, and that's me. It's my canvas to do with what I please and an important part of my self-expression.

    I have a bunch of tattoos and I love them, of course. Even if you come to a point where you wish the design or style of your tattoo were different, most people still love the tattoo because it's a sort of place-mark of who they were when they got it. I love the whole process, from thinking one up to having my artist put it down on paper and finally into my skin. If you don't want or like tattoos, the answer is simple: don't get one!

  59. Some look great, some look rubbish - depends on the design.

    I didn't used to think I liked them but got a tiny one just to find out what it feels like - it's a nice pain, like being pressed on with a pop-up pencil (as opposed to a horrible pain like bashing your elbow or stomach cramp).

    You say that old gent's tattoos haven't aged well, but imagine what he'd look like topless WITHOUT them... eww....

  60. I'm afraid I absolutely detest them! I keep hearing my mother saying that only low-class, low-rent people have them. When my boyfriend returned from Marine boot camp with 2 of them, my mother had a fit! Needless to say, I'd never get any, but then I'm on the other side of 60 now! Gail D.

  61. Some tats I've seen that I love. Others, not at all. I don't have any, but only because I could never decide on what image I would want on my body for the rest of my life and because I knew it would blur fairly quickly (relatively speaking) and not look the same and that would've bugged me. I was a pretty rebellious teen, so I definitely would've gotten one if I could have ever made up my mind. My sons say they want one or more, but haven't yet because they can't decide either. Must be genetic, eh?

  62. Get them if you like them but for me personally I look at my body as a blank canvas. It would bother me too much to have it not work with what I wear. Maybe a temporary one.

  63. Seriously, our bodies just don't look great when we're old. Would any of us be looking at that photo of an old tattooed man, and thinking about how hot he was if he wasn't tattooed? The edges of tattoos do blur eventually, but you can have them touched up, just like we can have other bits of our bodies touched up if we don't like how it looks as we age. Making poor tattoo choices, well that's a different problem, but in some ways I think its a good thing. When we get older it can be to easy pretend that we were never young, we never made stupid choices. A poor tattoo choice can be a good reminder (although I suppose it would be nice if it were a small and easily hidden reminder).

  64. The only people I have seen that look trully natural with their tattoos are the Maori people of New Zealand with their traditional polynesian markings.

  65. I am a live and let person. So...whatever you want to apply to yourself, go for it.

    For me personally, I am SO grateful that when I was a youth (in the 70s), it was not the style. I was wild and crazy and got my ears pierced (one hole). Any tattoo I would have gotten then would NOT look good on this 50 something.

    The skin really does lose it's elasticity, kids. Take this in to consideration when planning your body art.

    Oh, and just to be an old fuddy duddy, there are many companies whose dress codes do not permit visible tattoos in the workplace. Another placement consideration to keep in mind.

  66. That Shirley Temple tattoo is Freaking Me Out.

    I don't have a strong opinion on tattoos in general however. I doubt I'll ever get one myself, but who knows...

  67. Tattoos are personal taste like so many other things. I don't like grunge music, nor do I like opera. That is my taste, and if you like those styles of music, I'm happy for you. Vive la difference!

    I dislike tattoos. I find a man or woman with clear good skin to be far more attractive than anyone showing a tattoo. For those of you who like them - fine, but I don't share your taste.

    If you don't want a tattoo, then don't get one, and don't feel pressured to get one just because they are popular. You express your uniqueness so well already, a tattoo won't make you any more (or less) interesting.

  68. I don't like tattoos much. I don't want one myself. I don't mind if others do this, but honestly I don't see the point.

  69. Those pictures are great. Have you seen the photo of the guy who got glasses tattooed on his face? Crazy.
    I agree with the comments that it depends on the design. Some tattoos are great and artfully done. Others, not so much. I have two, one that it is really nicely done and one that my grandmother told me looked like a misshapen mole I needed removed. Her vision is not so great, though.
    I waver on how I feel about mine. Sometimes I like them a lot and want to show them off and other times I just want them covered up.

  70. I truly don't like them. I also don't like multiple ear piercings. (I'm odd that way.)

    But there's no way I would ever criticize someone for getting one. It's their body and thus their decision. Do unto others yaddayadda and all that, you know?

    Oh, and as I live in the Portland (Ore.) area, it is definitely not okay to be anti-tat (or even lukewarm). Tats are The Thing around here.

  71. My niece got her first tattoo at the age of 18. Its her brother's birthday. He died falling asleep behind the wheel coming home from basic training at the age of 20. A lot of times tattoos are very personal in that way.

  72. Three of the tatoos you posted are very scary looking. The girl with the eyebrows and guy with the monster face on his body can probably go out during Halloween without a costume. If my husband has that Shirley Temple face or snakes tatooed on him, I will probably get nightmares sleeping next to him. I can understand that people get them for very personal reasons. Unfortunately, other people have to look at them and tatoos can be visually disturbing. No offence, I happen to agree with the commentor that pointed out that tatoos can look like dirty skin at a glance. If I get one, I will probably go
    crazy trying to scrub it off my skin.

  73. Yeah, Shirley Temple was a little bizarre and haunted looking. Personally, the old guy just needs to put a shirt on, tattoos or not.

  74. There are many cultures where tattooing is considered normal ( Asian- eg Japanese, Chinese; polynesian, tribal markings on Africa, Celtic culture), even western culture ( WInston Churchill's mother was tattooed)
    I have been playing with the idea of getting one myself for some years, too
    For me is live and let live!

  75. We will indeed let you live. Go for it!

  76. omg, that back tat is gorgeous! yes, i love tattoos, i think they are beautiful. i have one, an asian dragon, on my hip, which i got when i turned 18. it still looks good, 22 years and 3 kids later. i'd love to get more, but my husband doesn't like them, so i haven't. (though i have been thinking about it more and more. the catch is i know i'd end up with sleeves or something like that)

    i also think piercings are beautiful. i have 3 holes in one ear and 4 in the other also since i was 18, and am planning to get a bar put in one ear on tuesday. might do my navel too, or might save that for motivation to tone up my tummy (the navel piercing would be my reward).

  77. While some tattoos can be really interesting and artistic, I still find myself trying to look behind them to find the person underneath.

  78. As I say to my 60+ year old boss when she asks my twenty-two year old self what I will do when I'm old?

    "How often do you wear a bikini?"

    and as she replies with disgust that she wouldn't be caught dead in a bikini, I remind her that I, in my wrinkly old age, colourful skin or not, will not be caught in one either.

    As for now, I love my tattoos and wouldn't change them for anything.

  79. I am SO with you, it's not even funny. Although I have a few things/hobbies that are my passion, I still can't imagine getting them permanently etched onto my body. I'd rather just get a t-shirt, LOL. I have thought about this alot, there are times when I do think one symbolic, small, discreet tattoo would be okay, but I can't think of what or where. So I'll stay bare :)

  80. Since my first exposure to tattoos was the crudely etched numbers and letters of Concentration Camp survivors, I can't get past the whole branding cattle, concentration camp thing. I was a child when I was shown these tattoos, but they left an indelible impression in my mind of cruelty and pain, which was what the victims intended. They wanted me to know what those tattoos meant and I am grateful.

    Just two weeks ago, we stopped by a neighbors house, and there was a young man and his pregnant grlfriend doing yard work. Both were young and very good-looking. His whole chest was covered with tattoos, including the girlfriend's name about 3 inches high across his washboard abs. He also had nipple piercings. I couldn't look at it, especially the nipple rings. All I wanted to do was put a shirt on him, because he was so handsome.

  81. I have a large tattoo on my back, which I got a year ago, when I was 38. It's a black and grey Elvgren pinup girl who represents my mom and dad (who have both passed away).

    I'm not sure if I will ever get another one. I can't see myself getting one as a strictly decorative thing. I would need the tattoo to have some meaning - therein dealing with the whole permanency issue.

    As for the cachet: I think it is the very fact that they are everywhere that gave me the "courage" to do it. If all these other people are getting ridiculous tattoos on their bodies for a lifetime, why can't I make that commitment with a tattoo I love?

    My friend's aunt got her first tattoo as a way to celebrate her 80th birthday. The octogenarian has two grandsons who are tattoo artists, and wanted to see what all the fuss was about. One refused to do it, concerned about her skin; but the other did it for her. Gotta admire her gumption!

  82. I'm not gonna lie. I like a tattoo on a hunky Marine, but that's all. I've told my children that the day they come home sporting a tattoo is the day I no longer contribute to their financial support, a threat they can't ignore with the cost of college and the fact that I'm paying the whole freight. I think tattoos on girls are idiotic, and I find "sleeves" revolting.

    I also put the idea of multiple piercings on ice in advance for all of my kids. I've also made it clear that friends of theirs wearing "hip hangers" are not welcome here. My feeling is that you can do what you like in your space, but if you're in my space, you must conform to what makes me comfortable. Tattoos, multiple piercings and ultra baggy clothing don't cut it for me.

    That being said, to each his own, right?

  83. 2 tats, 12 piercings and counting...

  84. Back when, I had a friend who had previously had a blue bird tattooed on her ample breast. Even at our young age then, it looked more like an eagle to me.

    Anytime I have thought I just might want a tatt, I remember the eagle.

    I am still tatt free.

  85. I have 3 tiny ones in indescreet places, thank goodness!Those I did myself at the age of 12 so u can imagine how they look!!!I'm so glad that's all I did.But whoever wants 2 do it,should!They're beautiful on other ppl.Just not 4 me.

  86. I like tattoos, altho since one of my friend's husbands is a tattoo artist, I'm kind of a snob about them. Can that be true? a tattoo snob? In any case, I've wanted to be tattooed *forever* but nothing met my criteria. I did finally get one of my own design, and it *is* a design, not a "picture". If I get more, that's how it will be. How can it truly be self-expression when you are wearing someone else's artwork on your body? I'm an artist, tho, so I probably have a different perspective on the tattoos and other creative outlets than do other people. I don't want to be a walking stereotype. Ever.

  87. Those are brave acts! really

    My mom don't want me to get a tattoo but I badly want one. I told my boyfriend that before we part, in time that we have to, we should get a similar ones in our risk.

    Tattoo Lettering

  88. I don't know anyone who got one who hasn't lived to regret it, one friend is essentially doomed to wear long sleeved shirts (in South Florida, no less)because he and his buddies tattooed something vulgar on his forearm in 9th grade, later he got a big butterfly tattooed over it to hide it, now he has an executive job and it can't be remove because of the homemade ink
    Sarah C

  89. Bare skin does not get you out of life alive. However,I hate huge,ugly,crude tattoos done with poor taste and placed somewhere ridiculous. A tiny, tasteful,classy, colorless one placed somewhere discreet won't make or break anyone's life.

  90. Tattoos are not a t-shirt you can take off and discard. This largely seems to be a neglected fact about getting one done. They do, however, appear to be expressing A LOT about our shallow, media obsessed, unintelligent, largely uneducated, American ‘culture’. And unlike the beauty of cultural tattoos like Mauri, the ugliness and crassness of our American ‘lifestyles’? The ones I see are usually a perfect expression of it really. Just not something I want to crow about myself; so no tattoos for me.


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