Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Christian

Tattoos

Recommended Posts

I know everyone under 30 has a tattoo these days, and that I'll sound like your grandpa when I say this, but here goes:

Tattoos are, I'm increasingly certain, hideous.

Not just a small tattoo on one's ankle or upper arm, although I wouldn't call myself a fan of those. No, I'm referring to huge tattoos all over one's upper body.

What got me thinking about this? Right in the middle of To the Wonder, a movie that's supposed to make me think about the power of life and intimacy (or something like that), the female lead helps undress a man. And his upper body is covered in tattoos! I was distracted. (Originally thought that was the Affleck character, but I think I got my actors confused.)

When Lena Dunham accepted her Golden Globe award (one of them; maybe she won more than one?) for Girls, she took the stage in a dress that revealed her shoulders and upper back. Her back had some huge bird/eagle/phoenix/something tattoo, and it was, in a word, hideous. Or, to use a second word, embarrassing. For me as a viewer. I felt actual pity for Dunham in that moment.

She doesn't care, and she won't apologize. She's happy with her body, or so Girls fans (I've never seen the show) have told me.

I like that people feel comfortable in expressing themselves this way. I just hope they don't expect me to react with anything other than puzzlement at best, disdain at worst. I do want to be charitable, but "puzzlement" is the most charitable reaction I can have to such things. For now.

Edited by Christian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As the only non-tattooed and/or pierced member of my family, I guess I understand the puzzlement. My pastor is heavily tattooed. Most of the people I know are heavily tattooed. And I just have no interest. I'm also in a church full of wounded artists with shaved heads, piercings, and tattoos all over their bodies. Then there are the men. It's fine. This stuff has long ago stopped being important to me. In my day it was flannel shirts and dreadlocks, and people freaked out about it, and agonized over what future employers would think. Now it's tattoos and piercings. Twenty years from now it will be something else.

Mainly I simply wish that I could still grow hair. If I ever did get a tattoo, it would be a tattoo of Rapunzel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm also in a church full of wounded artists with shaved heads, piercings, and tattoos all over their bodies. Then there are the men.

Love that!

Wait ... flannel shirts used to be frowned upon? That was before my time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SDG   
I'm also in a church full of wounded artists with shaved heads, piercings, and tattoos all over their bodies. Then there are the men.

Love that!

Heh. Reminds me of Suz's experience on our trip to Disney several years back. We spent our last day in Orlando at a water park, and Suz spent most of the day at the kiddie pool with whomever was our baby at the time (perhaps Nathan?). And all the other mothers with little kids hanging out there had tats, which made her feel really out of place. She was like, "Am I in the right place here? These are the moms?"

FWIW, I'm not sure I know anyone (in my daily life) who has a tat (in any place that I can see it, anyway).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BethR   

Not for me, either, but several years ago (OK, a lot of years now), I read the article that would become this chapter in GenX Religion, "Marked for Jesus: Sacred Tattooing among Evangelical GenXers" by Lori Jensen, Richard W. Flory, and Donald E. Miller. One element of their findings, summed up in the conclusion, was that for young evangelicals (and this was in the mid-90s, as I recall) "tattoos in effect sacralize their bodies through the imagery marked on them...[T]he pain of getting a tattoo...in the symbolic context of the religious ommunity, is a spiritual experience in itself" (237).

That doesn't necessarily explain why it seems as if EVERYBODY (except the four of us, apparently <g>) is getting tattooed, but I can understand it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Attica   

I'd consider myself to be a bit of a wounded artist and I've never even thought of having a tattoo. Or even a piercing for that matter. But I'm from a different generation I suppose, yet I also think it's a matter of creative and self expression and I just channeled this into other areas. It seems to be almost the norm for people to channel some of this into tattoos nowadays, for good or ill. Soon teenage individuality will be to not have a tattoo.

Edited by Attica

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Darren H   

Generally speaking, I don't have any qualms with tattoos or people who get them. I'll admit to judging people based on specific tattoos, though. There's that poor, poor generation of now 30- and 40-something guys who got tribal tats on their biceps fifteen years ago, which now read as, "Yeah, I know. I listened to a lot of Korn and Limp Bizkit." That's why I've never seriously considered getting one. I've just never been able to think of an image that would be as meaningful and beautiful to me in 30 years as it is today.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not for me, either, but several years ago (OK, a lot of years now), I read the article that would become this chapter in GenX Religion, "Marked for Jesus: Sacred Tattooing among Evangelical GenXers" by Lori Jensen, Richard W. Flory, and Donald E. Miller. One element of their findings, summed up in the conclusion, was that for young evangelicals (and this was in the mid-90s, as I recall) "tattoos in effect sacralize their bodies through the imagery marked on them...[T]he pain of getting a tattoo...in the symbolic context of the religious ommunity, is a spiritual experience in itself" (237).

That doesn't necessarily explain why it seems as if EVERYBODY (except the four of us, apparently <g>) is getting tattooed, but I can understand it.

That's consistent with what I've seen and heard. The tattoos are marks of identity, and there are (at least at times) elements of sacred identity wrapped up in that. A friend of mine has grisly images of Tuol Sleng, a Khmer Rouge concentration camp outside Phnom Penh, Cambodia, tattooed all over his body. He's founded several orphanages in and around Phnom Penh, and those kids are the descendants of the more than 2,000,000 people who died during the Pol Pot regime. He's living and, perhaps in a very real sense, redeeming his tattoos. Another friend has images of Johnny Cash tattooed all over his body. He sees himself as walking in Johnny's footsteps; a screwed-up, broken human being limping toward the light. He can't sing like Johnny, but you can't have everything.

So yes, I get it. I don't want to do it, but I get it.

Edited by Andy Whitman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Anders   

I've just never been able to think of an image that would be as meaningful and beautiful to me in 30 years as it is today.

This.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tattoos are, I'm increasingly certain, hideous.

Not just a small tattoo on one's ankle or upper arm, although I wouldn't call myself a fan of those. No, I'm referring to huge tattoos all over one's upper body.

... I like that people feel comfortable in expressing themselves this way. I just hope they don't expect me to react with anything other than puzzlement at best, disdain at worst. I do want to be charitable, but "puzzlement" is the most charitable reaction I can have to such things. For now.

Tattoos, like any other art form, are certainly influenced today by pop culture. But that doesn't mean that there aren't some phenomenonal tattoo artists whose tattoos are, quite literally, works of art. I've seen Celtic tattoos, for instance, that have the depth and level of detail of the sort of pictures that you would find in the Book of Kells. And when one of these tattoos covers just, oh say, a shoulder - they can really be quite beautiful. The problem is that most tattoos are admittedly not of this variety and that many tattoos are acquired in a person's teens and twenties.

One element of their findings, summed up in the conclusion, was that for young evangelicals (and this was in the mid-90s, as I recall) "tattoos in effect sacralize their bodies through the imagery marked on them ...

I've had only one tattoo on my right shoulder for about 5 years now. It's a Celtic cross, interwoven with blue, white and green weaving spirals. It is, in fact, a sort of mark of identity. I got it while I was in the army, and was surrounded by other men who had simply covered themselves in tattoos. I'm not completely sure that some tattoos don't do the same thing that some clothing does. It's something you wear. And, hopefully, because it is permanent, it is something that you want to wear always.

There's that poor, poor generation of now 30- and 40-something guys who got tribal tats on their biceps fifteen years ago, which now read as, "Yeah, I know. I listened to a lot of Korn and Limp Bizkit." That's why I've never seriously considered getting one. I've just never been able to think of an image that would be as meaningful and beautiful to me in 30 years as it is today.

I can legitimately say that I've seen them. I've seen tattoos that military veterans have ... veterans who are now in their 60s and 70s ... that are still very meanginful and highly valued to the owner. Sometimes it's something as simple as their battalion crest. Sometimes it's just an armband with the names of friends killed in the war they fought in. But the decades have not diminished their value.

A friend of mine has grisly images of Tuol Sleng, a Khmer Rouge concentration camp outside Phnom Penh, Cambodia, tattooed all over his body ... Another friend has images of Johnny Cash tattooed all over his body ...

Moderation in all things. Not that I'd disdain the getting tattoos covering you all over your body approach (which seems to be the sort of thing most likely to be regretted later), but there is something to be said for one or two, especially when you acquire the talents of a master tattoo artist. Some people get cartoons or sports team logos. Others, like your friends, get images that are illustrations of the very things that they live for.

Also remember, while it is a bit of a fad right now, tattoos are not a modern phenomenon. The Celts again obviously come to mind.

If my brother and I ever find our old Medieval Scottish coat of arms (as opposed to the cartoon version of family coats of arms that are currently sold on the internet), it is entirely likely that we may use it for a tattoo.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Attica   

Andy Whitman said:

:The tattoos are marks of identity, and there are (at least at times) elements of sacred identity wrapped up in that.

One of my friends had a tattoo of a broken heart on her back in remembrance of a very close friend who died young. I get that. But I also wonder if such a thing might block the process of healing and eventually moving on to at least a certain degree (not that one should completely forget.)

J.A.A. Purves said:

:tattoos are not a modern phenomenon. The Celts again obviously come to mind.

Yep. Hence why tattoos are such a prominent tradition in the British navy and military, it's a relic from their Celtic heritage. This might have also had an influence on the U.S. military, not sure.

Edited by Attica

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Who Gets Tattoos? Demographic and Behavioral Correlates of Ever Being Tattooed in a Representative Sample of Men and Women

Purpose

Despite recent increases in the popularity of tattooing, little is known about the prevalence and characteristics of adults who have ever been tattooed. We investigated demographic and behavioral correlates of ever getting tattooed in an adult population.

Methods

Computer-assisted telephone interviews were completed by a representative sample of 8656 men and women ages 16–64 years in Australia.

Results

A total of 14.5% of respondents had ever been tattooed, and 2.4% of respondents had been tattooed in the year before the interview. Men were more likely than women to report a tattoo, but the highest rates of tattooing were found among women in their 20s (29.4%). Men and women ages 20–39 were most likely to have been tattooed, as were men with lower levels of education, tradesmen, and women with live-out partners. Tattooing was also associated with risk-taking behaviours, including smoking, greater numbers of lifetime sexual partners, cannabis use (women only) and ever having depression (men only).

Conclusions

Tattooing has increased in popularity during the past decade. Yet tattoos still appear to be a marker for risk-taking behavior in adults.

ScienceDirect, January 2012

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×