Vidins on Tattoos.

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The type of guy you’d bring home Nanna

Tattoos. They’re everywhere. On building sites. In discothèques. In offices. Universities. Churches. The ‘acceptance’ of tattoos certainly seems to have increased over the last ten years.

Both guys and gals are getting them. And not just the fat and ugly girls either, although goodness knows that’s bad enough. Yes, pretty young things are permanently etching their skin with large, colourful motifs.

My wife works in the bridal industry, fitting wedding dresses to brides of all ages. She will often comment on how many brides want to cover up their once-loved tattoos.

First up, I don’t have any problem with tatts. Let’s get that clear. What I do err on is teenagers – old kids essentially getting huge, visible tattoos.

I like to think I’m pretty open minded (in a conservative kinda way!). I still can’t just get past the idea that being heavily tattooed still has a ‘stigma’ about it. It’s like the person is hiding behind something. Like they aren’t comfortable in their own skin, so they need excessive permanent markers all over their body.

I heard some sage advice about tattoos once. The advice was if you want a tattoo, put a picture of the tattoo next to your bed, so it’s the first thing you see every morning when you wake up and the last thing you see when you go to sleep. If you still absolutely love it after a year, then get the tattoo.

My daughter goes to a pretty middle-class Christian independent school. There is an after-school dance studio that runs in the school. One assembly, the dance teachers came and performed a dancing routine for the primary-school children. One of the girl teachers was heavily tattooed. Now the dancing was not salacious, nor the music inappropriate. I know that as Christians, we should strive to be non-judgemental, loving and accepting. I just could not get past my own prejudices that this heavily tattooed dancer just brought the whole tone of the dance troupe down. Does that make sense? I was just – well- miffed that someone heavily tattooed was put in the limelight that contradicted my internal values system.

Is it just me that thinks heavily tattooed people still have a ‘stigma’ about them? It’s a shame, like judging a book by it’s cover. I’m not doubting that many tattoos can be intricate, artistic and super cool. Many of them can be.

What do you think? Am I being an old fuddy-duddy? Too conservative? Or does someone who is heavily tattooed still have a ‘stigma’ in the wider community? I’d love to hear your opinions and I’m eager for mine to be challenged.

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13 comments

  1. paulfg

    Tattoos get all the coverage. Daily make-up gets all the plaudits. Many a lady I know would not step foot outside the house before applying make-up. Never understood the difference.

  2. inkd

    Invest in the tattoo removal industry now… it’s going to the new ‘mining boom’ in five/ten years 😉

  3. Kate's Bookshelf

    I agree with you. First off I’ll state that I am a Christian, so was raised with the stigma of tattoos being bad. Personally I find them fascinating and I want to question people about the designs and why they got them. I feel like it would make an amazing book. Why I Got My Tattoo… or something like that. However, while I find them interesting, I still have my own personal thing about them as in, I won’t date anyone with a tattoo, I won’t ever get one myself, and I really am not into hanging out with people that have them. There is still the stigma of people who get them are wrong. You know? I do think there are a lot of insecure people or young adults , that get them and then ten, twenty years down the line they go, ‘Oops.’ Our culture has promoted it, and it’s really infiltrating the Christian realm as well. When I see young pastors of churches with them, I wonder, is this really a good influence. You push the no sex before marriage, which is in the bible, but you don’t with tattoos? Which is in the bible. It seems like a pick and choose situation.
    And now I’ve written too much. I’ll stop.

  4. suzjones

    I would never tattoo my own body however have an older daughter who has a huge tattoo across her back, one inside her wrist and one on her foot. Every single tattoo has meaning for her and was designed by her. They represent the people she has loved and lost in her life and the ones still living. I have always told her to be careful with her tattoos and this is why she chose her back (generally covered), her foot (doesn’t age or wrinkle as much) and inside her wrist.
    Whilst they don’t make me happy I am pleased she at least put some thought into it.

  5. Atlas

    Tattoos may still have a stigma, but I think that’s because they are misunderstood by some people yet. Tattoos used to be for military men and (contradictory perhaps) people who had been in prison or were affiliated with gangs… (Though consider that before that they were a way to identify ones association with a tribe and indicated honour or place by placement as part of, or the only, visual indicator). Nowadays I find that a lot of people get tattoos for reasons of meaning as well, though meanings behind them may have changed somewhat. Tattoos are less about “marking up” your body, and more about expressing a visual need, an artistic expression, a celebration of things important to you that you can wear like a badge to forever remind you. Friends I know with tattoos get them to tell stories about their lives, to “say” what is important to them, to remember what was lost. Tattoos are for some people an anchor to what is important. Some even get them to cover unsightly wounds or skin conditions. People with tattoos might say: “Every time I look down and see this image on my arm I am reminded of someone/ or to be better/ or of something beautiful/ or that there is light at the end of a tunnel/ or to never go back to where I once was.” The only difference (In my opinion) between people with tattoos and people without, is the ways in which one person versus another chooses to express themselves and what is important them. A “type” of person who gets tattoos is simply (and generally), someone who is artistic and visual, or someone who just had something important and trusted this as a way to express it. I would not be offended by a person with tattoos, I would embrace them for finding “art” as something more fluid than what can be on a canvas. I wouldn’t let the presence of a tattoo affect my assumption of values, most people I know with them have very good values 🙂 Just my opinion. 🙂

    • lynwilderdean

      I like the perspective you expressed in this comment. I have a reminder tattoo that I think is beautiful; I didn’t do the artwork but I designed it conceptually and it has several different layers of meaning for me. The primary one is to remind myself that my body is the home of my mind, and it helps keep me grounded (I tend to get lost in the realm of abstractions). It decorates my body-home the same way that furnishings decorate my living space. It can’t be moved or changed the same way a sofa can, but once you’ve gone through a process that took multiple years and design sketches to find the most comfortable sofa, and positioned it perfectly to capture the light for an afternoon’s reading, how likely are you to want to change or move that sofa?

  6. pieterk515

    I was involved in an interview for a teacher at my kid’s primary school. The guy was an amazing teacher with an excellent track record, but he didn’t get the job. He had two full sleeves of tattoo’s. The interview felt that exposing this to kids between ages 9-13 might not sent the right message.
    So definitely, prejudice towards tattoo’s exist. Which is why I haven’t got any.

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