Exploring: tattoos

I had an email from a mate the other day wondering about my thoughts on tattoos.

Here's what he had to say.

I reckon you ought to write something about tattoos. As in ‘what the fuck?’ This morning a young woman (early 30s) I know said something about how much she likes tats. I thought my reaction (unspoken) was more interesting than the fact she likes tats. My first thought was ‘I thought you were more sophisticated than that’.

Evidence, I’m sure, of my age, sense of aesthetics, and lack of appreciation of what’s going on with street and other fashion … I really wonder why tats have taken off with such a vengeance right around the world.

How much of it is media driven? Why do some people get on the tattoo train with a sneaky little butterfly on the ankle and others hijack the whole engine with the total body canvas thing? I’m sure somebody has written about all this, but I have to admit it puzzles me.

I wore an earring for about 15 years but then one day I thought it looked less cool and more silly so I took it out. It would be hard to do that with big tats!

Personally speaking, I'm not one in general for adornment - no jewellry, no hair dying, makeup and obviously enough, no tattoos. I don't know why I feel this way in particular - I certainly don't have any problem with the choices anyone else makes in this area for themselves (ok, maybe some aesthetic issues crop up - big hoop earrings for one) - maybe I'm just a body minimalist.

That said, I have considered a tattoo at some points in my life - maybe because all my friends were doing it - but I've never seen a design that I thought summed me up and that I would want to keep for the rest of my life. Conceptually, I imagine it would be some sort of sun design (again, not sure why) in the spirit of the image at the top, probably on my left shoulder.

My take on tatts - and not having one I realise that there are a myriad of reasons for them that I haven't grasped - is that they still have a hint of outsider mystique attached to them. A feeling that whatever else you have to do in your life, however much you have to buckle down and do what you're told, you at least carry a small symbol of rebellion against the norm that helps assert some independence.

(Incidentally, I think not getting one while most of the people I knew did was perhaps some kind of assertion of my own independence/individuality - or maybe I just have commitment issues :)

I don't think that the media have had much to do with this at all - I remember a big emergence of tatts around the grunge period of the early 90's, coming out of punk and that whole "alternative" movement that was eventually co-opted and watered down into something more marketable by the mainstream media but even now when you see tattoos represented in film or tv, they are generally used as shorthand to suggest that the tattooed is more of an outsider.

Different strokes for different folks really - I guess the main issue for me would be the permanance of the thing - I know you can get them removed and all but still... Perhaps some of the tattooed folk out there might like to talk about what they mean to them?

I did come across some interesting pictures while I was searching for the sun image at the top - some which involve creating suntan tattoos

And then there are also pure white tattoos -

(Images linked to from eglobe1.com, likecool.com and dance.net)