Monday, 25 July 2011

Tattoos (not the Edinburgh one)...

To tattoo or not to tattoo, that is the question.
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The droops and wrinkles of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of chavvy tattoos
And by opposing end them?


I am going through my annual impulsive itchy phase. There comes a time every year where I get the urge to just DO something. This urge is not born through boredom or a lack of stimulation but a desire to explore the wonders of life and to aid in my evolutionary cycle. Yesterday, I cut all of my hair off whilst listening to Billie Holliday on a Gramophone and refusing shots of vodka...

This did not quelled the urge...

I've been looking at tattoo designs for a which now and have been pondering my tattoo fate. I love ink and consider myself a bit of an enthusiast but as with everything in life that I tend to over think, this has me in a quandary.

I got my first tattoo at the age of 15 and it is a rather large Gothic band on my right arm. I designed it myself and liked it for about a year and then I got another. I then took up piercing. Puncturing my eyebrow, navel, tongue and inserted a multitude into both ears.

After I had finished with my piercing phase I wanted another tattoo but by now the eczema that had plagued my childhood had come back with a vengeance. Beautification and alteration became a thing of the past as I fought to keep it at bay. A decade and a half later, I am still at war with my skin and so pushed all thoughts of branding aside. In this time tattoos have become incredibly popular and especially having increasingly visible ones. When I originally did it, it wasn't so mainstream, being the preserve of alternative and criminal types. Your tattoo made you an individual, you chose to be tattooed to be an individual but now there is a change in this thinking. Now every celebrity has a different tattoo and a different way of making them popular. Now people are tattooed to emulate celebrities. They copy the placements and the designs, ignoring some steadfast rules that should apply to people who not do have a team of dietitians, make up artists and designer wardrobes. It is so disappointing that now women are being tattooed to be just like everybody else.

One of the aspects that has always torn me is that the style of tattoo has to fit in with your body shape and size and your fashion sense. I've always bern a bit grungy and dark so my tattoos fit in with what I wore at that time. My penchant for Norwegian Death metal during my tortured teen years sparked my love of the Gothic. But then later on, I had kids and I had a kid who is different. I had a kid who needs acceptance and his mother rocking up to parents night with purple hair and tattoos wasn't going to help. I found that as I hid my dark and feisty alternative leanings and my tattoos, the more parents were keen for A to hang around with their kids. Now though...I live in a city, a city that embraces alternative types, a city that has learned to look beyond the exterior to measure a persons worth... It's coming back out again, gradually.

One thing that has put me off getting more tattoos is how mainstream they have become. I know that is ridiculously snobbish of me! Now it is rarer for people not to be tattooed, even a tiny one discreetly placed about your person somewhere is de rigeur. It's the norm now for women in their 20's and 30's to have visible tattoos and I want to get away from looking like this by adding an even bigger one somewhere. Walking down the street, these celebrity inspred tattoo and tattoo placements all just blur into one. I feel that there is a fine line between distinguishing yourself as an ink enthusiast and someone who watches too much reality TV. A line that I would like to cross without ending up like Kat Von D.

However, my war against my skin and my body image haven't made the decision easy. My shape as changed since having the kids, becoming, well shall we say, more robust. I am very aware of the effects of tattoo placement onto fleshy parts. Another particular bugbear of mine when other women try to emulate celebrities, Sheryl Cole and Victoria Beckham being the worst culprits. Now both of these women have an entire entourage to help them look the way that they do everyday. Their fake nails, tan and hair being expertly done are always immaculate and I'm sure the women take great pains to make their fakery look natural. So this combination of their naturalistic fakery and the fact that they weigh about the same as my 12 year old son means that when they draw attention to an area of their body by enhancing it with ink, it can look elegant, stylish even. Ms Cole can get away with a tattoo on her hand because hers is long, lean and elegant, the jewellery adorning that hand costing more than most peoples houses.

When someone put on fake nails from Semi-Chem and whose hand is a little bit more portly than Ms Cole goes and gets a tattoo on her hand, then we are wandering into prison tattoo territory. The same with neck and calf tattoo. Now properly inked ladies look awesome when covered in exposed places. I admire their boldness in the face of conformity but I think that unless you are highly tattooed then these areas should be left alone. There is nothing chavvier than tattoos on visible places with too much flesh.

I am under no illusion that I'm going grow another foot or shrink back to a size 8 anytime soon.

How do I cross that line? What do you think about tattoos? Tattooed celebrities? Does anyone else have these hankerings?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad. Please excuse any typing errors as my fat fingers and Apple's touch screen technology are not a good combination.


  1. um, fair point. i'm just about to get my first tattoo myself and its been 6 years in the waiting because i couldnt decide on something i wanted for the rest of my life. Now i feel at a particular juncture in life where it feels more important for some reason. I believe though we shouldn't decide to tattoo or not to tattoo purely on other peoples tattoos. we wouldnt get very far in life if we always said other people have done that already so i'm not gonna. I think if the design is meaningful enough you will love it forever and knowing it is there should be a constant inspiration.

  2. Really interesting post. I have several tattoos, all well covered by clothes, but have also had that hankering for another. I have had the exact same doubts as you; too obvious, too mainstream, too chav, too old (me), too flabby (me), etc etc. But I keep remembering something that an old friend once told me that her Gran had said:
    My body is no longer making me beautiful, but putting beautiful pictures on it will help.
    What a lovely way to look at tattoos, as an adornment for an aging body!x

  3. @TravellersCraft: In my head, I live in a world where there is freedom of expression, that individuality is celebrated, that is all embracing but life in the UK isn't like that. People lead such busy lives that they deal in short hand. They categorize a person by several key attributes before spending any time with them.
    You're right though. The actions of others shouldn't determine what you do. I just worry about what people think far too much.

  4. Anna: When something becomes mainstream it then poses all these problems doesn't it. What a wonderful perspective your gran had. Thanks for commenting! x


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