August 2009

He Says, She Says: Body Art

Author: Keith Kelson & Lindsey Hawkins | Photographer: Photography by Anne

I’m probably the only guy willing to say so aloud, but I don’t think the average woman needs a tattoo. Call me a sexist if you want, but only men should ever have tattoos. You know, the outlaws. Men who have no need for society’s rules and regulations. Men like Al Franken and Larry King.

I’m sure that some women will say that tattoos aren’t bad, that they’re really works of art. They’ll point out that, if done correctly, tattoos can be very tasteful and even feminine. A small blue dolphin on the ankle or wrist can’t be bad, can it?
Besides, what a person does to his or her body is no one’s business. I can’t argue that point. If you want to sit in a chair while an “artist” using an electric thingamabob with a needle injects ink below your skin, I say knock yourself out.

I’m no fan of needles, and that fact alone keeps me from ever wanting a tattoo. I’m just saying that I know I’m right about women having tattoos. Having “ink” just isn’t a good look for anyone who might need to one day wear a sundress or a halter top. No matter how good the artwork, tattoos on women are a no-no. You’ll one day want to have that artwork removed from your body, unless you like looking like a walking billboard.

Who decided it was cool that women should get tattoos anyway? I don’t remember getting that memo. Tattoos just aren’t ladylike when you get to the heart of the matter. They never have been and they never will be. Tattoos have always been associated with the fringe elements of society. Any woman who gets ink is judged, rightly or wrongly, just like the same gang of misfits that have historically used tattoos as a badge of honor.

Women need tattoos like fish need bicycles. I picked up my nephew from summer camp, and I was amazed at all the women with ink. One young lady, a counselor, had some Japanese characters tattooed on the back of her neck. She didn’t know what it said, but she thought it looked “cool.” There were several mothers who were also covered with tattoos. In less than 10 minutes, I saw at least 15 women who had tattoos. I had to make sure that I wasn’t at a biker convention. Now, you can call me old fashioned, but when a group of women have more tattoos than the average biker gang, something is very wrong.

Tattoos and all body art should be reserved for the real outlaws and misfits of society—in other words, men whose pictures are hanging in the post office. If you’re on the run and the feds are looking for you, go ahead and get all the ink you want. You’re an outlaw, after all—it’s okay to look the part. When you get caught and get sentenced to a long stretch in the pen, you’ll be able to compare your tattoos with your fellow inmates.

But if you happen to have a regular job and a regular life, forget about getting any ink. Getting tattoos when you’re not an outlaw makes you a poser, and there’s nothing worse than a poser. In fact, most people would rather be surrounded by actual criminals than spend one afternoon with a poser.

Posers are just lemmings following the crowd and trying desperately to fit in. They think that getting numerous tattoos is cool. Truth be told, most of those guys look like old NYC subway cars from the 1970s, covered with graffiti. There are way too many men involved in professional sports and entertainment with loads of ink, and the vast majority of them are posers.

The inked up cats in the NBA are the worst offenders. It would be easy to forgive the large number of posers in the NBA with ink if any of them would actually play defense or be able to hit a mid-range jump shot. Yes, I’m referring to the Denver Nuggets. Thanks, guys, for letting the hated Lakers win yet another NBA title. Perhaps if you guys spent more time practicing your basketball skills instead of being in some tattoo parlor, the fans in your city could have a victory parade.
Ladies, don’t be like the Denver Nuggets. Don’t be all flash and no substance. Don’t follow the crowd by getting your body covered with artwork that can’t be easily removed. Tattoos aren’t airbrushed on your skin, you know. The ink is injected beneath your skin, and it will take a laser to remove it. Ouch.

Lose the tattoos and lose any friends who think that your getting a tattoo would be cool. Don’t fall for the okey doke, ladies. It’s a trap. Trust me when I say that no man has ever decided to not date a woman because she doesn’t have a tattoo. Any man that suggests that you get a tattoo is insane. You don’t put fuzzy dice in a BMW do you?

Besides, if he wants you to get a tattoo, his picture is probably hanging in the post office.

To tat or not to tat? Is this really still a question?!

Here’s the thing, tattoos are historically documented as far back as the Stone Age. There is even ancient record of a frozen Homo sapien kept fresh in the Alps that dates all the way back to 9500 BC, and it was he who was the first to sport the infamous gigalogo. For those of you who are new to ink culture, a gigalogo is the male version of the infamous tramp stamp. Tramp stamps, also referred to as arse antlers and slag tags, are located right above the gluteus maximus, generally large and in charge, and can typically be found on the lower backs of women born in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. Though the documentation from the above case study states that the victim’s frozen tattoo was a series of preserved but intentional carbon dots and lines on the lower spine, the tat is still a tramp stamp in my book, and if Otzi the Iceman was here today, he might be seeking some laser treatments.

So we’ve established that tats are nothing new, yet some believe that inking the body sets us apart in the crowd, maybe even makes us unique. Some use body art as a means of spiritual or religious expression. Some believe it is a rite of passage. Some use the art form to commemorate an event, pledge, birth or death. And some just want their eyeliner and lipliner to not only be waterproof but scrub-with-bleach proof as well.

But from my western cultural perspective, I still have to ask myself, “Why not tattoo?” Am I just afraid of commitment? Have I no memories worthy of permanent ink, blood, sweat and tears? Does my mom or boyfriend hold no real significance to my selfishly flesh-toned canvas? Is there not a single Chinese character to describe who I am and what I stand for? Do I really believe my face looks good first thing in the morning?
I can’t say that I didn’t go through a phase when I thought a soccer ball with a ladybug on it would give me the perfect ankle, but it was a phase. I can’t help but think if all my phases were permanently accounted for, I would be a tatted-up, belly-pierced blonde smoker with gelled rainbow bangs, still in college choosing a major and dating losers who were mostly just hot.

I’m not saying that all tattooed individuals are going to regret it, and I’m not saying they are all unappealing, because then I would be generalizing. However, when a tramp stamp at age 20 turns into a gramp stamp at age 60, and that ring of colorful fire around your bellybutton turns into what looks like a wrinkled, irritated rash on a butt-in-the-front, I can honestly say I won’t be jealous that I didn’t live on the edge more.

Profoundly, I suggest, “To each their own; judge and be judged.” But ecstatically I scream, “Step away from the Jager bombs; it will not make him or her love you more, and anything cool is never permanent!”
One more thing: If you think I am crazy and tattoos are where dedication is at, might I suggest sticking to black ink. There is a reason why God sticks with the basics.

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