Tattoos revisited

This post was written by a RWL Guest BloggerToday’s post was written by Simon, aka BoogleHoops.

Tattoo needleA few years ago, BBC News picked the headline So why do ‘normal’ people get tattoos? I’m confident they only did so in order to stir up some extra debate in the comments section. I wrote the following blog as a comment on this story. When coming up with a topic idea for Lori’s guest post I wanted to write about tattooing, and was reminded of this post from my old site. It’s cheating really, but on re-reading it’s a good reflection of my opinion which hasn’t changed one bit. Whilst a few posts on the comments section made me angry they were, by and large, suitably rebuffed by intelligent debate from people with tattoos themselves. (The post from the Senior Company Executive who didn’t like ‘visable tatoos’ [sic] was swiftly dispatched!)

Tattoos have been around for thousands and thousands of years. Aborigines, Native Americans, Ancient Egyptians, civilizations all over the world. Oetzi the Iceman had tattoos, widely understood to be a form of acupuncture. However, a large proportion of the population would only know that because Brad Pitt has a tattoo of Oetzi on his wrist, and mentioned it in Heat, or Now!, or whatever magazine is en vogue until teatime. Why is it such a surprise that more people are getting tattoos? As the (albeit sanitised) article points out they are no longer the domain of sailors, bikers and criminals. Some of the artists working today produce work that could scarcely be duplicated on paper. Body adornment and decoration changes constantly. It’s not that long ago that women were using lead make-up and Atropine eye drops as a fashion accessory.

It’s become more accessible in recent years, but in conjunction with that the attitudes of the artists and practice of the studios has had to change even faster. With improved knowledge of the threat of diseases like Hepatitis and HIV over the last 30 years, what was once seen as an unscrupulous profession for scoundrels by scoundrels has had to come to terms with fundamental changes in practice. They have had to be seen to be clinical, sterile, professional. With that publicity comes a breakdown in stigma, and more people looking closer than they would before.

I make no apologies for saying I am a purist. Tattoos are a rite of passage and should represent an important event or stage in life. If that is adhered to, and you don’t get your ex’s name in foot high letters on your chest, you should have nothing to regret. I have 7 tattoos, all done at specific stages in my life. And I’ll be honest the pain feels good, it’s a tremendous endorphin rush. Like I said, rite of passage.

Of all my tattoos and there is only one that ever caused me any regret. I was fortunate enough to be able to put that right very simply, and it taught me a valuable lesson. Yes, some people have some god-awful tattoos. It’s not just about choosing a pretty pattern and getting it put on your skin, it needs thought. As for a tattoo preventing you getting a job, any boss who discriminates in that manner is a moron. It wasn’t that long ago that women in trousers (as rightly pointed out on the BBC board) was considered unusual. Unless you have “my boss is a tool” tattooed on your eyelids, you should be judged by your work.

My advice is if you’re thinking of having a tattoo, get some ideas and go and talk to an artist. Look online for recommendations, and ask for advice. Then go away and think about it. Make the image your pc or mobile background for a while… if you get bored of that you need to think about it some more. Also, if the history and culture behind tattoos interests you, check out the Body Modification Ezine, Modern Primitives by Vivian Vale, The Customized Body by Housk Randall, or Wikipedia’s entry on Fakir Musafar, who is considered the Father of the ‘Modern Primitive’ Movement.

Images by Matt Borowick (via Wikimedia Commons), Rachael Gray and Simon Tierney-Wigg.

2 thoughts on “Tattoos revisited

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  1. Bravo!

    My first two tattoos were done at a young age, the very first was given some thought (although I wasn't really 'mature' enough to consider it a rite of passage). The second was done because a friend was getting one and it's on my list (after my next tattoo) to be covered up.

    As I grow older I become more aware of the fact that tattoos mark events in my life, my most recent was the beginning of a redefining of 'me'.

    My next one is already researched and planned I just need to have a chat with an artist about it, and marks the end of one phase of my life and the beginning of another.

    As for the pain aspect. Yes. Yes indeed.

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