I’m wiping the grease off my face with a big napkin because today is Deep-Fried Friday. And just before the weekend, I’m talking tattoos.
When I was growing up (born in the 60s, people), tattoos were not common. I glimpsed them on former soldiers, punk rockers, and the Banditos biker gang who came through town and hung out our local park on Sunday afternoons.
The public display of tattoos has grown exponentially in the last thirty years, with more tattoo parlors in my community than coffee shops and McDonald’s. I was recently reading a CNN article about how young is too young to get a tattoo and noticed an interesting comment. It is printed as written by Greg Kells:
I’ve been a professional tattooist since 1993 and have worked in several states. I won’t tattoo anyone under the age of 18, regardless of the law. Even at 18 there are tattoos I either won’t do, or will try my best to steer people away from. Here’s a short list of terrible ideas. Don’t get your hands or face tattooed unless you are a tattooist or someone who will never be forced to look for a mainstream job (you’re not able to make that judgement call at 18 or 19 years old). Don’t get a band name or logo on you, chances are you’ll outgrow them or they’ll just start making terrible albums. Don’t get anything political, you won’t have the same political philosophy in 20 years, but you’ll have the tattoo. For the love of all that’s holy, don’t get something you saw on a celebrity. They have notoriously bad tattoos and inspire horrible trends in tattooing. Remember when tribal on your lower back was cool? Now we call it a tramp stamp and laugh at it. Those motivational quotes you’re thinking about getting on your ribs, we already call them the “sk#nk flank”. Don’t get “trendy” tattoos. Parachute pants used to be cool. Imagine if you bought a pair in 1983 and were never be able to change out of them. Contrary to popular opinion, don’t try to make your tattoo have deep symbolic meaning, what you think is deep and symbolic right now, will seem saccharine and juvenile in a few years. It’s fine for a tattoo to have some meaning, but don’t overthink it and try to jam your entire life philosophy into a 2″x2″ spot on your ankle. That’s the advice I try to give all my clients, not just the young ones.
His advice seems pretty solid, and it got me to thinking about my own complete lack of desire to ever get a tattoo. While I have plenty of friends and family with tattoos, I personally don’t want one. Here my own Top 5 Reasons for Not Getting a Tattoo:
1. Needles. That’s how I hear these things are made. Seriously? I did everything humanly possible to avoid needles as a child. My pediatrician’s nurse was my evil nemesis who couldn’t wait to stick a sharp edge into my skin, leaving me wondering who had mistreated her so badly that she felt the need to take it out on children. I may have started my mystery-writing career right there on the doctor’s table, with showing my butt cheek and fantasizing about the many ways to murder someone who wronged you. So yeah, I’m a big, ol’ clucky chicken about the needles.
2. Permanence. Remember how you take out your photos from twenty years ago, look at your hairstyle and fashion, and say, “Why was I thinking?!!!” There are few permanent commitments I’ve made (faith, marriage, children). If I decide I don’t like my town, I can move. If I don’t like my career, I can get a different job. But what if I got a Tweety Bird or author quote tattoo and twenty years later decided I wasn’t crazy about it? Even my ear lobe piercings have mostly closed over at this point since I stopped wearing earrings about ten years ago. Inking your skin seems to be an awfully big commitment to me. If I feel the desire to express something on my skin, I’m happy to get a temporary tattoo instead.
3. Mistakes. Yes, I know that most tattoo artists are professionals, but I think these photos speak for themselves.
A lot has also been made of actress Hayden Panettierre having a misspelled tattoo on her body; it is the phrase “to live without regrets” in Italian, but somehow an extra “i” got tacked on. Oops. As a pessimist by nature and a grammar geek to boot, I fear the mistakes.
4. Skin changes. I would be concerned that what looks great on my 25-year-old taut skin won’t look quite so hot on my 65-year-old well-used skin. For instance, had I put a cute Bugs Bunny face on my belly years ago:
After having two kids and passing age 40, it would look like this:
I do know that the biggest change on a tattoo with age is fading, not spreading. But did I mention…pessimist? Most of the time, I feel like a very lucky gal, but I do not want to test that luck too much.
5. Self-presentation. Tattoos simply don’t fit my personal persona. Most of us choose how we present ourselves and expect others to draw conclusions from that. If you dress in Goth, you’re saying something about yourself–expressing your personality. If you wear business suits and ties, that says something else. From our clothing to our hair color to our jewelry to our make-up to whatever else goes into how you present yourself, we make choices based on what we want to say to others or even to ourselves (like the wedding ring I wear, which is more about reminding me, though it is pretty). I’m just not the kind of woman who wears a tattoo. It doesn’t go with who I am. What does go? Well, I am loving my latest reading glasses.
So what do you think about getting tattoos? Do you have one? Do you want one? What do you think people should consider about getting a tattoo?