This post was inspired by a former skinhead who’s just undergone years worth of painful surgery and operations to remove offensive tattoos from his past.
It seems that tattoos are almost compulsory these days. I’m the only person in our office who doesn’t have a tattoo. I’ve never really had the desire to get one. I also thought that permanently marking your body could be something that everyone would regret in later life but it appears to be the polar opposite.
When I was younger I can recall Mum joking (I think she was joking) about me never being allowed to go out with a boy who had tattoos, rode a motorbike or bungy jumped. Uh huh….stereotyping at it’s best but back in those days all those things (well perhaps not the bungy jumping bit) had connotations of ‘bad boy and danger/stay away’ written all over it. We were talking about it with relatives over the weekend and they were saying that only sailors and criminals had tattoos in their day, it really was a big no to get ‘inked’. Back in 1982, at the ripe old age of 5, Mum also banned me from ever going out with anyone who was a member of the Hells Angels – don’t think that was ever on my list of must do’s anyway but good to have boundaries.
I wish I could go back in time and have a discussion with Mum as I did in 1982 at the age of 5 and tell her “I’m going to marry a guy who has a tattoo, rides a motorbike and jumps whenever there’s a bungy cord available Mum”, because that’s what I did. She probably wouldn’t have believed it if I told her back then.
I recall when hubby (who was fiancé at the time) went on a boys trip to Melbourne and told me he was getting a tattoo when he was there. Mortified, I threatened everything I could and yet he still went through with it. When he arrived back I then yelled some more screaming “what will I tell our kids when they are 6 and they want a tattoo just like Dad’s?”. Sure enough our 5 and 7 year olds have announced recently that when they get older they want ‘a tattoo, just like Dad’s’. Despite the initial “I told you so” look that I shot to hubby, I’ve been able to maturely explain to the kids that if, when they are old enough, they think about it for at least 10 years AFTER they turn 18 and they still want a tattoo, then when they’re 28, they too will be allowed to get one (I’m well aware that at some point they’ll realize they’re adults and won’t need to ask Mum’s permission but until then, let’s let them think I’m the boss forever).
At the time I didn’t realize at the time that hubby’s tattoo had nothing to do with me or perception. It had everything to do with him. He wanted one for a reason, it meant a lot to him. It was an expression of himself and he didn’t give a toss what I or anyone else thought of it. As an added bonus, the ink didn’t change him at all. It didn’t make him a different person, he was the same guy I was engaged to and he didn’t turn into a criminal as a result of it. Hubby’s was well thought out and he’s NEVER regretted it.
In our office Brent has a tattoo of John Howard on his hip. A drunken night Buenos Aires where a dare resulted in the Prime Minister of Australia being tattooed permanently on his body. He said he doesn’t regret it but given the time over, perhaps he wouldn’t have done it.
Both the girls in the office are also tattooed, one more extensively than another (see below) and in relatively obvious places and not one regret from either of them. They love them. Tattoos are now so popular that I actually don’t see them, by that I mean, it’s normal, for our generation I genuinely don’t think there’s a stigma about a tattoo making you a certain ‘type’ of person. In the same way we shouldn’t judge people by the way they dress, where they live or what they wear (yes, I know I am guilty of this too), a tattoo doesn’t change who you are. It’s often a personal expression that means most to the person who’s had their body tattooed. Each to their own.
In my opinion there should possibly be some rules or at least a few pointers on where to an not to get them done just to be safe and to ensure that when you’re 50 years old you’re not thinking “WTF was I thinking” and needing to go through excruciating laser surgery to get them removed.
1. Don’t ever get tattooed when you’re drunk. Ever.
2. Think about the first one for at least a year before you get it.
2. Avoid tattooing anywhere above your neck, unless it’s a cultural decision. People still judge and if it affects your ability to work then your life in the future could be impacted.
3. Don’t get tattooed anywhere that you won’t be happy with it being, ink is generally forever.
4. Gals, imagine yourself in a wedding dress, formal dress, bikini, shorts, singlet top and general work attire before inking self. If you’re still happy then by all means, go ahead.
5. Avoid swear words and anything that provokes hate or incites violence.
6. Never ever ever ever ever get the name of a partner tattooed on you (unless you’ve perhaps been married for a gazillion years and no signs of splitting, I’m talking over 50 years married, then it could be ok but you’ll be so old by then it will hurt like hell and your skin will be so crusty it probably won’t work anyway)
7. Apparently hands and feet should be avoided. I’ve seen both, and to be honest, I wouldn’t do it but it doesn’t offend me, just a tip I got from a website!
8. Afer general consensus in the office and online, I’ve discovered that the only remaining stigma even with people who do have tattoos is the tramp stamp. Look it up, you’ll find out what I mean.
Overall, each to their own but at the very least, respect. All people are different and a bit of ink doesn’t change a person’s personality. If you don’t like that person, they were possibly like that before the ink and if you do like them, ink isn’t what made them a better person.