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Friday, February 11, 2011

Body Art

Tattoos are trendy in today’s world, but most people do not realize the stigma they could be putting on themselves when donning some of the larger tattoos.  In my opinion, it is our right in life to be individual and unique, but at what price?  I grew up in a time when people who had tattoos were shunned.  If you had a tattoo and you had not been in the military, it was presumed you were either an ex con or trash.  It was not considered proper or lady like for a woman to be inked. Although tattoos seem more acceptable today, many people still look down on those who have decided to wear their ink proudly.   Tattoos can be tastefully done and are actually a great way to express one’s self as long as the person getting it puts some careful thought into what they are doing. After all, this type of art is a permanent mark on the skin and must be lived with for a long time following the final prick of the tattoo artist’s needle.
    I am a 45-year-old woman who decided about 10 years ago that I wanted to get a tattoo.  I had been married since I was 18 and when I got divorced, I had befriended someone with a variety of tattoos. I had never had a friend with tattoos before and was fascinated with the idea of getting one myself.  Being an artist, I could totally appreciate the artwork that he had on his arms and it started me thinking about what kind of design I would want.  My divorce was a big turning point in my life, and this seemed like a good way to make it memorable.  I started sketching things that I thought would look pretty or cool, and came up with a Celtic star design.  After perfecting the design (one that was small enough to hide under clothing when necessary), I took it to a high school friend, Tom, who had opened up his own tattoo studio.  He put my design onto a screen that projected it onto my right hip.  He drew around the design, and then proceeded to tattoo me.  The only way I can describe the feeling is that it is like someone burning you with a hot needle, but the pain is brief.  It didn’t take long and I had a piece of art on my body that I had made special, just for me.  There were artists at the shop who of course could have done a much better job than I did, but I just wanted to make it myself, so Tom was nice enough to let me do that.  I liked it so much that I made another design of a moon, sun and stars, about the size of a silver dollar, and had Tom tattoo that design onto my right shoulder blade.  I have been happy with these very small, what I call tasteful, tattoos for years now and do not regret my decision, even though they have aged and faded over time.  I am not aware of anyone judging me for my decision either. It is art, and the artists who work in these shops create some tattoos that are absolutely gorgeous. 
    While I am a proponent of people getting tattoos, I do believe that a person would need to use good judgment when deciding to do this.  What I mean is that I do not believe the professional world is fully on board with the idea of tattooed people representing their businesses.  Those who have tats on their faces, necks or hands are really limiting themselves for any future careers so, with that in mind, if your goal is to become a tattoo artist, then ink to your heart’s content.  However, if you plan on a career in banking, government, medicine or some other white collar environment, it would probably not be smart to have a dragon tattooed to the side of your neck.  Overly tattooed workers tend to scare the customers because a large part of the population still thinks of these people as “bad” or trashy. Many who do not approve of this art form, like some of the elderly, baby boomers, religious people, or straight-laced conservatives may have preconceived ideas of someone with tattoos and have a hard time accepting them.  
    It is equally as important to choose the right design for a tattoo, as Johnny Depp can attest to.   Many years ago when he was engaged to Winona Ryder, he tattooed the words “Winona Forever” on his right arm.  When they broke up, he obviously disliked the idea of having her name on his arm so much that he chose to change the tattoo.  It now says “Wino Forever.”  Johnny did not use good judgment.
    I would say a majority of today’s ink donning individuals are good hearted, friendly, dependable and professional people.  More of them are getting tattoos and also accepting people who have them, but we still have a long way to go before tattoos are the norm in society.  For those who are thinking about getting one, consider the stigma that could be placed on you first.  Are you brave enough to not care what others think?  For those who don’t like people with tattoos or judge them in a negative way for having them, think about why you don’t like them.  Then toss that thought out and accept that individuality is what makes this world great.  Lastly, consider your design choice because you will be living with it until you are old and saggy. There is nothing uglier than a droopy rose.


  1. I agree. Wino Forever isn't so bad. At least it didn't say Richard or David, or Michael.

  2. I thought long and hard before each of my tattoos. They mean something important to me and I'm still very happy with them. One is about my music, and you know that's my life! The other represents my closest friends. One of whom has passed, and his initials have been added. As will any others from that group. They are where I can hide 'em if I want, or show 'em if I want. I love them!

  3. Hi Bonnie,
    As I already told you, I'm not a tattoo person, don't like body piercings either (although I have my ears pierced), but I don't think it's weird or odd for others to have tattoos (I'd have to stop spending time with my nephew if I really was opposed to tats). I'm not sure I like them on "old"people with saggy, hairy skin, and I think that people really have to take into consideration what they are putting on their bodies for all to see (since tats are difficult to remove, and they are sometimes offensive or gang/prison related). I don't judge people by their tattoos. For some people, they like to display their art work at all times for everyone to see. It's not for me, but I'm not so sure I'd want Wino Forever to be a part of me!! To each their own! Just not for me!! (fear of small needles, and a need to not be remembered for art work on my body are also part of my decision to NOT have any tattoos - maybe also being a grandchild of the Holocaust makes it difficult for me to conceive of tattoos as being a good thing!)

  4. Thanks for commenting Dee and Bonnie! I've seen your tat Dee --very tasteful too. I completely understand Bonnie and I'm glad you're so accepting of our body art :-)

  5. I have a large 5 inch scar on my right inner thigh since I was 16. It will never go away. It does look cool though and a lot of people ask me how I got it. It was such a dumb story how I got it, so I usually make up something better, like, it happened when I was a spy....and then fill in the blank and make it riviting, yet barely believable. A tattoo is pretty much there forever in much the same way. If I got tired of it, it would be too darn bad, I guess. That's pretty much why I won't get a tattoo. The other reason is I'm chicken.

  6. I don't agree with your scar story being dumb. I think it was a very exciting story. In fact, I was jealous that you got a scar and I didn't, LOL! Can I include your scar story on my blog?

  7. Wow! Your description on body art is very informative. I would like to visit your blog again and again for Moon & Star Tattoos. Thanks