Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Do You Have a Tattoo?

(After you read the post, be sure to read the opinions of my other visitors in the comments section at the end.)

YOU DON'T HAVE A TATTOO!

Well why not? Everyone else seems to have one.

Oh…except me.

Will I ever want one? No. Aside from the fact that I’m afraid to do anything permanent, I’m too old. Although, even if I were twenty-five, I still don’t think I would want one.

My imagination can’t even take me there. I’m trying to see a cute little rose on my backside; nothing fancy – just a red blossom with a couple green leaves and a short stem.

I’m trying this mental exercise in an attempt to relate to those who have chosen to go under the “pen.” Or is it a “needle?”

I know a few people who have one, but I never hear them say “why” they got it. They just say because it’s cool.

I wonder if it is like trying a new hair cut. You see a picture in a magazine or on someone else, admire it and decide to imitate. Or, if it has a deeper meaning, like a loved one’s name, a religious symbol, rebellion, or just plain ol’ art…like wearing a new shade of lipstick or growing a beard.

What's the motivation; the inspiration?

Does it make you feel sexy? I’m just askin’.
…..

My first awareness of tattoos was seeing it on the arms of sailors in the military town of my childhood. The next wave was during the seventies: peace signs, flower power, and marijuana leaves. Now I’m noticing names, phrases, and abstract shapes.

For those of you who have one, do you feel the urge to get another? I’ve seen men and women with tattoos covering their entire legs and/or arms. I still come back to, “it’s permanent.”

Isn’t it? Or does the laser removal process work?

Could henna be an option?

Does anyone care to enlighten me?
.....

PART II
I decide to ask a couple people about their tattoos; a woman and a man, both in their early twenties.

Proudly, Tanya shows me the tattoo on her forearm, and tells me about the other three she has. One is her mother’s name. The others are depictions of her personality.

Michael has a small initial of his name, and a bolder tattoo called a “collar rocker” – a phrase tattooed on his chest just below the collar bone. In my conversation with him, I learn the terms “covered tattoo” and “uncovered tattoo,” the former meaning that it can be easily covered with clothing; the latter, not. People with “tats” all over their legs and arms, obviously, enjoy the visibility.

Both speak passionately and consider the tattoos a form of self expression.

“It’s something that our generation is doing,” says Michael, implying that it belongs to them. Reading between the lines, I hear, “You all had your long hair and afros; we have our tattoos.”

Tanya is a poet, and seems to be searching deeply for the meaning of her life. She says her friends, jokingly, call her bi-polar.

I detect a little rebellion from both, as if they are saying that so many factors control their lives, but this is one thing that only they control.

On the flip side of the coin, a “baby boomer generation” male gives me his opinion. “It’s mutilation,” he says; “How are they going to get hired for jobs?”

I say, “They’re probably not interested in sitting behind a desk;” which is stereotyping. Does a tattoo affect a person’s potential for certain types of employment? Even though Michael says it's mostly his generation getting them, people of all ages and occupations are visiting the parlors.

I’m glad I asked Tanya and Michael about their tattoos. Regardless of my opinion, I got real feelings from real people.

Next topic: Ear Gauging…NOT!

The large pierced ears still give me the heebie jeebies, but I’m s-l-o-w-l-y desensitizing.

42 comments:

Midlife Jobhunter said...

I always wonder what those tattoos will look like in twenty years. When stomach isn't tight anymore and that ring around the belly button stretches for thousands of miles. Or when it is not popular and grandkids say to grandma - Who was Tommy?

I do find some of the coloring most beautiful, though.

Betty said...

I can´t even look at that last picture, it grosses me out so much. I hate ear gauging! Reminds me so much of the Indians we have living in our area. And I will NEVER get a tattoo either.
It never ceases to amaze me where people see the beauty in it.

Anita said...

I don't have any tattoos but my dad has several. His were all attained during his Navy years, think WWII, and mostly when drunk. His all have stories, and I love them. My girls are talking about getting one to depict their twin status when they turn 18. The needle thing bothers me. I always say get one if you want, my recommendation is a covered tattoo.
Ear gauging, ick no.
Good thought provoking stuff Anita

Abby said...

Thought provoking post as always!

And yes, I have a tattoo. A flower and vine on my upper right arm. Although I'm not in my twenties - or even my thirties! - I would agree with what your interviewees said and with your own conclusions. For me, it's a form of self-expression combined with a good dose of rebellion.

I found the whole experience fun, actually - the stinging pain of the needle. And it was all so wonderfully self-indulgent! As a mom, those are few and far between.

I have no desire to get another. Mine was done in 2 phases, thereby satisfying the need to "go again". I declared my upper right arm my one "tattoo zone", and it's done.

My Aimless Infatuation said...

Ear Gauging? Never! I was in line the other day when I noticed this handsome young man standing in front of me,I also noticed he had on a wedding band but when he turned around there it was. When I saw that big hole in his ear all I could think of was..."well I guess we know his wife doesn't nibble on his ear". I guess I'm just out of the loop,not crazy about any of it. I'm too old for tat's anyway,they wouldn't look too good between my wrinkles and age spots,lol......Love your posts.

Farila said...

I would like to have a tattoo of a creeper where I would add a leaf to every year I survived breast cancer. The thought lingers but could never have enough get up and go to actually get it done.
My friends in US have tattoos and many of them have some good reason... like Kathleen and Mark instead of exchanging rings choose to tattoo themselves as a mark of their wedding etc.

Honest Abe Lincoln said...

I got married in July 1955. I was home on leave from Japan. On my way back overseas I went into Oakland, California into a tattoo dive and had a tattoo of two red roses and six green leaves and a stem tattooed on my left forearm.

Now the red is skin colored -- faded out. The green is still some green. The outline in black and the stem in black is still black but migrated to neighboring tissue so that a tiny black line in the original is now an eighth of an inch wide. I should post that.

The neatest tattoo I ever saw was taking a shower on the ship going across the pacific. I saw a sailor strip down and then walk over to the shower. When he was coming and I could see him from the front I saw these big black ants on his body and they were marching around his side and when he passed I noticed they disappeared into the cheeks of his butt. Honest.

Nakamuras on Saipan said...

The ear thing is gross-sorry. Tattoo-never. I've seen many women here on island with tattoos and honestly I think they make women look rough and unfeminine. Living in an Asian culture women and tattoos is not ok. As a matter of fact- in Japan if you have a tattoo you are not allowed into the onsen bath (hot spring spa). Tattoos are associated with the Japanese mafia or yakuza. There are signs at the onsen stating there are no tattoos allowed in the bath houses (men OR women). I guess there are different strokes for different folks but I'm a more traditional person and being a Christian woman I just don't think it's appropriate-specially for a woman.

Sohailah said...

So not a chance. and neither does Cowboy. We both are not fans. Although I do have one extra piercing that's not in my ear.

Gauging... have they ever SEEN 60y ear old African men.... not pretty.

Joanne said...

I don't have any tattoos, but it does seem to be so much more acceptable these days. On campus, all the kids have one, so it doesn't even seem to be a rebellious thing, it's so commonplace. It's almost a fashion thing now.

yonca said...

I don't have tattoo.But only one, a small thing seems nice to me.I don't know what would I choose..mmm..a butterfly maybe:)

Hilary said...

I was the last person in my family to get one, but I chose very carefully where I would put it. It's in the small of my back -- not a tramp stamp, about 3 inches higher -- and definitely covered. I wanted it for a long time, I don't regret it and I would get at least two more ( the girls fingerprints and my grandmother's signature) as soon as I can figure out where to put it. Craig will probably serve me with divorce papers shortly thereafter; apparently, I'm too old!

SuziCate said...

I'm just not into tattoos. Anyone my age that I know who has them regrets them now...I wonder if the younger people will embrace or regret them as they grow older. I suppose maybe it depends on why you got them and what the images are...just not for me!

Ann said...

Great comments. I was fairly anti-tattoo until two of my favorite people got one--my son and "surrogate" daughter. Both chose tattoos that were personal and meaningful. I'm much more accepting in my old age.

andrea said...

Even if I wanted one, which I don't. the pain scares me too much to ever consider it!! I have heard it can be quite painful.

Tim Riley said...

Everyone called me Riles growing up, so I had Riles tattooed on my arm when I was 18. Seems a little silly now, but at the time it made sense. I do think about getting another tattoo, something to do with my daughters. We'll see.

Anita, I have an award for you in my latest post.

Buckeroomama said...

I do admire certain tats on certain people, but I don't think I'll ever get one. It's just not me.

Georgiana said...

No, no, no. No gauging or tatts for me. I'm fickle. What I think is cool one day would most definitely be lame in 6 months. Plus I wouldn't want to talk about it to everyone who asks. I worked with a girl once who was gorgeous! Except I think she overdid the tatts because they were all over every part of her exposed (and I heard unexposed) body. I am guessing you can get addicted to it.

Rebecca S. said...

Half the fun of your blog posts is reading the comments - such a variety of opinion!
Tattoos? Well, my 20 year old niece has one, some Sanskrit saying, just below her bikini line on her belly. At our family reunion a few of us went smimming in the lake and that is where my sister got her to show me the tattoo. I remember asking her if the Sanskrit translated as 'Do not go below this line,' and we had a good laugh. I agree with your commenter who said it just seems to be a fashion thing now, these hidden tattoos. The people who get them put in visible places sometimes have more of the rebellion thing happening. I would never get one because it just doesn't interest me and I don't like the idea of the needle and the ink and the permanency. I mean, I used to dye my hair red in the 80's but I've changed my mind about that now. I think I object to anything that could be limiting later on.
My friend had a comic on her fridge for a long time. It depicted two tattood elderly men sitting across from each other in the old folks home, one saying to the other, "I see you were an idiot in the 90's too"
The guage thing doesn't bother me, if they are the small ones.

Hilary said...

I'm not a fan of tattoos. Nor of piercings, really. I was really thinking that they'd have lost their appeal by now but I was obviously wrong about that. I don't believe in saying "never" because things change. But I'm about as close to never as one could get. Not gonna happen.

Bella @ If This is Motherhood said...

I really don't get the GIANT ear piercing thing. The tattoo? I don't have one but I kinda want one.

Midlife Mom said...

I don't have any and don't want any. I am WAY too old for that stuff. My DIL has one on her lower back that doesn't show much. My nieces both have them much to my sisters distress. My son doesn't have any and I am glad as some things you do in your early 20's don't seem to be so appropriate when you get into your 40's. I think it's just a fad like everything else and will be glad when it's over. I think about the gals that have them all over their arms and backs and wonder what they will think when they get a bit older and wiser. A small out of sight one doesn't bother me but people get carried away with them.

gayle said...

I'm not really sure why some people get tattoos but I think from what I have heard they can be adicting.

The ones I have seen of guys in their seventy's are all faded.

meerasrajan said...

Hi I am a first time visitor to your blog.. Tattoos have always fascinated me- in India women often tatoo the names of their husband on their arms or have a small spot on their forehead. So I always associate tattoos with someone like that - a woman who is one with nature and someone who is bound by tradition. So it surprises me that it has come back as a fashion statement. The same goes for pierced body parts. I think my grandmother would have been very amused to see girls today sporting earrings like her mother did - all around their lobes..

Tracey said...

In answer to your question, no. Never have never will.

But, I did, shortly before my 30th birthday get my navel pierced. I do not have a navel worth showing to most of the world and even if I did, I probably wouldn't. Unless they didn't believe a "conservative girl" like me could have a navel ring. Then I would show it to any un-believer who asked. Ha!

It was fun. It is gone. I don't think it meant anything. But, it is NOT a tattoo.

Bren's Life said...

After my nephew committed suicide 2 of his brothers & some of his best friends all got tattoos like with his inicials... For one of my nephews it was his 1st tattoo & because emotions were so raw & hard to deal with at the time, he had it put on his bicep. And pretty stinking big too. I think he regrets having it so big, especially since it's not the best work...
But for me I would never have one. Just not the permanent type person like that..

Jen said...

No, but I want one - a shark to signify strength and perseverence. I like the Marquesan style. It will be put somewhere that can be covered by clothing because it does limit your employment options. It's stupid to judge someone that way, but it's reality.

Anonymous said...

Bren, I'm so sorry about your nephew. That's just so sad.

Karen said...

Living with teens, this has been a topic of discussion on many occasion. I personally feel that it's up to the individual, (AFTER they turn 18!) I wouldn't get one for myself, and I'm a bit queasy about piercings, other than the ears. I do think that some people can pull it off, tattoos AND body piercings. But not everybody!

Sajidah said...

Anita, I don't have a tattoo ('cept a henna tattoo, love those)... but I do have a blog award for you on my blog. :)

ModernMom said...

Tattoo free and staying that way. With the exception of my kids and maybe my Hubby:0 I can't imagine anything I would be attached to enough to tattoo about? yeah, I just don't get putting butterfly's or snakes on your bod.

ModernMom said...

PS Thanks again for the vote. I truly appreciate it!!

ethelmaepotter! said...

I followed you here from...oh now, I can't remember...maybe Chocolate Covered Daydreams...because of your picture - just wondering if that was taken at Patti's in Grand Rivers, KY?

But I find I like your blog, and this post and comments are certainly interesting. Myself? No, no! I have never had any desire for a tattoo. My daughter, a fine, sensible, 1st grade school teacher, married a man with a dragon tattoo up his right leg, from ankle to knee (our dog bit him first time he stepped through the door,) and those dreaded ear things. His aren't nearly as big as the one you picture, and they're not permanently edged in silver, but he does wear those large gauge hoops. He's a nice guy, the father of my soon-to-be first granddaughter, but for the life of me, I don't know what initially attracted her to him.

A little side note - I have a niece who decided, along with her husband, that they would each other's names tattooed on their...private parts. I kid you not. So she had his (Mark) put on hers (no, I haven't seen it,) and he BEGAN having hers put on his. Her name is SAMANTHA. EIGHT letters. He had them stop after SAM. I guess it was perfectly alright at the time - we mostly call her Sam anyway, but they've been divorced for a while, and I just wonder sometimes...

Julie Magers Soulen said...

I have a tattoo and the second is in process. I'm a boomer well over 50 and got my first tattoo two years ago. Why? Because I always wanted one. I'm at an age that I can (and should) do what I want with my personal life. It started as a memorial at the top of my upper arm and now roses continue below the elbow. I'll probably stop there but who knows! And I think it's pretty and feminine.

Cheers!
Julie
Julie Magers Soulen Photography

Arlee Bird said...

Don't have a tattoo and never had a desire for one. I actually despise the practice even though at least 3 of my kids (all adults) have them--two of these are young women who are wonderful ladies with good jobs and responsible lives.

Sure, my generation had the hair and weird clothes, but we were able to cut the hair and change the clothes. The tattoos are a mutilation on oneself that amounts to various sad statements about one's life. And that's as much as I'll say about this topic for now, other than if you're contemplating getting one ask yourself why really?, what good purpose does it serve now or in the future?, and couldn't your money be spent in a better more productive way?

Lee
Tossing It Out

RAnn said...

I always come back to the permanent thing with tatoos. Take a look at any yearbook from 10+ years ago and prepare to be amused by the hairstyles and fashions--but hair grows and clothes wear out. I don't want ANY permanent fashion accessory.

I worked as a lifeguard on a Navy base when I was in college. I saw many old me who had tattoos, that, I guess, looked good (if you like tattoos) when they were young but which at that age looked like black smudges on their skin.

There is a cute young woman attorney in my office who has a tattoo on her arm. She generally wears sleeves to the office so you can't see it, but the sleeves bared her arm briefly one day when she was getting coffee. I guess she figures she needs to keep it covered for work...

Paul C said...

It's so tempting to stereotype people, put them in tiny compartments, categorize them. There is the temptation to do that for some who wear tattoos?

InSeason Mom Cynthia said...

Any non-medical procedure that involves needles and pain is not for me! I do think some tattoos are pretty, but I'm too chicken to get one :)

Just Two Chicks said...

Ewwww as far as the ears go... I can just imagine what those ear lobes will look like when they're 80. They may have to have them removed!

I don't like tattoos. I have a few friends in their 50's who have suddenly decided to go get them. I'm not talking small ones either... it's surprising because they don't seem like the "type." If there is a type for that sort of thing.The wife always had a strict no-tattoo rule for her employees too... I don't think those would look very good on wrinkled skin! :)

Haddock said...

Very creepy is my verdict for a tatoo.

Scott said...

I have no tattoo, though I often consider getting one (I'd get the ying-yang symbol somewhere). What stops me is the permanence, of course (even after having one removed, there's a scar left behind), but also the HIV fear. Most people tell me the needles at a good shop are sterilized, or brand new. But I don't like the risk, however small.

Alena said...

Hi Anita! I love your blog and all of your interesting questions. I am tattoo free, but Ben has three. I will never have a tattoo because I can't think of anything I'd want to look at for the rest of my life :)