Tattoo You...And You And You And You

Image from Fashion Avenue
What I'm about to say is probably going to offend a lot of people. It might even piss you off if it applies to you. However, the time has come when I simply cannot refrain myself any longer. 

I hate tattoos. 

There was a time when tattoos were mostly spotted on sailors, bikers, convicts and stars of freak shows. Today, it seems that everyone from your boss to your grandmother has a tattoo. This is a complaint that I've read over and over from other tattoo loathers. And it isn't that most people are getting one tattoo in an inconspicuous area on the body--they're inking up an entire body part. So maybe I should clarify: I don't mind seeing a tattoo if it's elegantly done and reserved for one spot (take, for example, Jon Bon Jovi's small Superman tattoo on his left arm.) In that respect, it has much deeper meaning. But when someone gets their back, arms, chest or a combination of these parts and more (like--gasp! their face), a tattoo with any real symbolism loses its impact. I also seriously start to question their sanity and their self esteem. Honestly, it seems like a cry for attention. What better way to get people to look at you then to go through life as a living canvas?

Yeah, I get it--it's your body and you have the right to do with it as you wish. Also, if you want to spend $100s getting ink painfully infused into your derma, knock yourself out. I respect it, but it doesn't mean I have to like it. I'm just trying to figure out why this has been the hot style trend that has suddenly exploded during the past decade, when for many decades prior to that, people didn't have a problem with leaving their body au natural. I've even heard one guy say that people who don't have tattoos are now the rebels, since the tattooed folks seem to be outnumbering the un-inked one. 

Ironically, I've read that Keith Richards and Sid Vicious--two of the biggest rebels in rock and roll--don't have tattoos. 

I'm truly not trying to sound like an ignorant jerk. I actually do have respect for tattoo artists (who must be thrilled, I'm sure, by the tattoo craze.) You really have to be an artist to create some of the designs that they do. It's a form of expression, just like hair and clothing is. I think for me, it's the fact that tattooing is, for the most part, permanent.

Also, tattoos can be distracting. I can't tell you how many times I've seen vintage clothing being displayed on a model cloaked in tattoos. I can no longer see the clothes she is modeling--all I see are her tattoos. And it looks really bizarre and frankly, tacky, to see a Bettie Page-like model who has visited a tattoo parlor...if you want to truly look vintage, you would have left your skin alone.    
I wouldn't date a man with extensive tattooing. It's a turnoff. A lot of people think that Adam Levine is hot. I don't; he's covered in ink. I don't think there's anything sexier than seeing a man as he was born, with unadorned skin.

Lest you think only women feel that way, I came across the comment below...on a clip of the movie Earth Girls Are Easy, of all things. The scene in question featured a very young, tall and beautiful Gina Davis in her bikini, sans a tan and unnatural body art.

"This was back when girls didn't have tattoo's and piercings all over their bodies. It's was just plain natural real-deal human female bodies without a bunch of added bullshit.
Things are *very* different today :("

Yep, they sure are, mister. And at times that makes me sad. 


  1. No, I don't think you'll upset people, except the intolerant. I've had a lot of time to consider the Tattoo - my Dad's just below his Luckys rolled into his Tshirt sleeve, and my grandmother(!) - a small one on her knee (?) IIRC, but then again she was a confirmed hussy in a WWII training camp town. I, like you, appreciate the artistic, but not the medium.

  2. I myself do not have any because of an incredibly low threshold for pain, plus I'll always be afraid of regretting my design choice(s). Many tattoos look like the recipient lost a bet. With some of the incredible work I've seen, I'm amazed some people don't plan better. So, I don't hate tattoos, I hate BAD tattoos!

  3. I'm not a fan of them either (but like you pointed out, I do admire the work of some of those tattoo artists out there).

    Growing up, the only tattoo I saw was the hula-girl in blue ink on my Uncle Bill's forearm--he got it in the Navy. Now it seems that 3 out of 4 women in in my office have them.

    But there are tattoos & there are fads--I don't know if the 'tramp stamp' emblazoned across a woman's lower back is still "in style", but of the 6 women I know that have 'em, ALL of them have said they now regret it.

  4. I agree! I used to work in a popular cosmetics store and out of about 15 women, there were two of us that didn't have tattoos! The other girl didn't have one for religious reasons, so I was the only person who just thought they were ugly! I also find it incredibly distracting to see a model covered in ink, completely authentic look except for the full sleeves. If it makes you feel any better, none of my college girlfriends have tattoos, except for one - and hers is hidden! It's NOT a trend for everyone.

  5. I'm 100% with you Pam. Can't add more to the discussion except the vintage observation - was there alcohol involved in the decision to get a tat?

  6. Totally agree. Many of my friends got tattoed quite recently since it has become "hype" again. (It used to be totally has-been 10 years ago, and as you say, only for bikers and hard-rockers).
    I'm pretty concerned about what they'll all look like in 10 years when it'll be has-been again... :s

  7. I am tattoo free, but I totally agree about tattoo artists, they can be amazing. I just made friends with one and he also does glass etchings that are pretty great.

    I have had a couple of friends get tattoos with very personal meanings. An old boyfriend of mine and his friends all got a similar tattoo on their arm of a tribal symbol when their buddy died. That, to me, is the purpose of tattoos. But in general, I think they are overdone and yes, can be very tacky...

  8. I agree totally. Tattoos have become as common as dirt so any "rebel" factor has worn off long ago. I'm ink-free and will remain that way.

  9. I really was expecting to get flamed on this post, and I'm still bracing myself for that possibility in the future. But in the meantime, thanks all for your comments!

    I remember when some of my friends started to get tats in the 90s--but they were of small roses or Celtic symbols and they got them on their ankle or mid-drift.

    I have always wondered about the toxicity of the ink that's used for tattoos, especially the large ones...can it really be good embedding so much ink permanently into your skin and having it sit there for the rest of your life? I'm guessing if there was any toxicity to begin with that it's been dampened significantly by now.

    Anyways, not a tat fan...but like I said, an isolated smaller one looks better than all encompassing body art. Like anything else, they're best in moderation. :)

  10. You are not alone.
    I see these girls who look like tagged abandoned buildings downtown.

  11. I'm a little late on this post, but thought I'd add my 2 cents.

    I'm in complete agreement. To me, tattos are to a body what bumper stickers are to a car. Someone is so insecure in their image or beliefs, they feel they need to shout them.

    Obviously a well-hidden single tattoo is the exception, but the in your face tattoos are indeed a desparate cry for attention.

    And to all you girls out there with tramp stamps: it's going to look ridiculous when your 60.

  12. I know this post is many years old, but I just found it and wanted to emphatically agree. There are few things sadder (and more utterly inexplicable) to me than seeing a pretty woman wearing vintage clothes...and with tattoos. They utterly ruin her appearance.

    For many men (including me), tattoos are inexorably linked to bikers, white trash, criminals and convicts. That association alone makes it impossible for me to find a tattooed woman attractive, no matter what the tattoo may look like, in the same way that a woman dressed like a gangsta rapper, an NFL player or a soldier wearing combat gear would be impossible for me to find attractive. Those are all signifiers of masculinity. What's the point of wearing feminine clothing, having flattering make-up and hairstyle...but then having signifiers of masculinity on your body?

    I have never seen a woman's body that was actually improved by the presence of tattoos, but I've seen many that were desecrated by them. Does anyone actually believe that say, Grace Kelly, Veronica Lake, Louise Brooks, Marilyn Monroe or Bettie Page would've been *more* beautiful if they had inked their bodies? I doubt it. And yet those legendary beauties are among the most frequently imitated by today's vintage-wearing women. Even Dita von Teese has seen the sense in this, and her only tattoo is a tiny "beauty mark".

    Would the Venus di Milo be improved if someone painted a "tramp stamp" on her lower back? Would a 1950s Ferrari be improved by having flames airbrushed down the sides? Would the Parthenon be improved with graffiti? I certainly don't think so. Those things are beautiful in part because their form is perfect, but their surfaces lack ornamentation. I would say the same for a woman's body.

    One of the main defenses I hear about tattoos is that they allow the wearer to "express themselves". So does having a "signature outfit". Now imagine having to wear that "signature outfit" every single day, for the rest of their lives -- at home, out in public, in bed, in the shower, etc. How much "expression" would be left after a few years? It would no longer be expressive; it would be trite.

    The conversations between others practically write themselves:
    "Trixie was at the club last night."
    "Who's Trixie?"
    "She's the one with the cherry blossom branch tatt..."
    (interrupts) "Oh, HER. Right. Miss Cherry Blossom, 2012." (both chuckle)

    If a person has to rely upon inked flesh to express themselves, perhaps it's time to work on their personality, and/or insecurities.

    I don't have an opinion on the aesthetics of men with tattoos (since I don't really look at men), but most guys with tattoos -- whether bikers, goths, hipsters, punks, whoever -- seem to be conformists. They're *obligated* to get tattoos, in order to fit in with their chosen subculture.

    Anyway, thank you for having the courage to post this. It's sad that it actually *requires* courage nowadays to state what had been implicitly understood during most of modern history. That just shows how far our culture has slid.


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