Jun 262011

Although I grew up in a conservative southern household, I feel I’m a fairly liberal, “to each his own” kind of gal. I try not to be judgmental, and I certainly enjoy human diversity – but, I’m still not sold on the tattoo explosion.

I’m just trying to figure out the allure of it all.

I’ve never understood why someone would choose such a permanent personality marker because I know how much I have, and continue to, evolve over the years. What I loved in my 20s certainly is not what I love today. Same goes for the 30s and probably the 40s.

Tattoos have been around for over 5200 years.

According to a Smithsonian article, “Humans have marked their bodies with tattoos for thousands of years. These permanent designs – sometimes plain, sometimes elaborate, always personal – have served as amulets, status symbols, declarations of love, signs of religious beliefs, adornments and even forms of punishment.”

Today, people have tattoos that represent their life, their history, their interests or their memories. And there are hundreds of designs to mark that special time in their life.  However, tattoos create permanent changes that will more than likely present a problem as time goes by.

There are extremists and non-extremists when it comes to tattoos.

Individuals who have facial tattooing may be proud of their stylish appearance, but rest-assured, they will be unemployable or only acceptable in low-paying positions. I’m willing to bet those non-conformists could care less.

But what about people who just choose to have a barbed-wire bicep or a tramp-stamped lower back that would never be revealed at work?

How much is too much when it comes to tattoos?

The other night, I found myself watching NY Ink, the new east-coast reality show spun out of LA Ink. Admittedly, I watched because I was curious to see the personality types that tattooing attracted. I was surprised and not so surprised.

Actually, I was intrigued by the meaningful stories the tattoo recipients shared. One person recently discovered who his father was – a regal tribal member. He wanted to honor his heritage with a tattoo of elders on his back.

Another ‘rebel’ wanted to pay homage to her child with a cartoon shoulder tattoo. That was a bit odd to me, but again, whatever floats your boat.

Another adventurous spirit wanted to honor a former band mate who died of a heart attack a year earlier. Through a few tears and spousal comfort, his tattooed calf serves as a permanent memorial to his drummer.

They all loved their tattoos and seemed extremely grateful and excited at the results. There’s even a Tattoo Snob blog that focuses solely on quality tattoos and tattoo-related material.

When I was in college, many fraternity brothers added what they thought was a daring tattoo of their Greek letters on an ankle as a sense of camaraderie. Times have certainly changed since then.

When I worked in NYC, I was having a business lunch with an executive producer at Forbes. This free-spirited, very bright and quite handsome executive whispered that he had body art all over.

I recall being so amazed, surprised and intrigued at the same time. After a second glass of wine and caving-in to my repeated requests to prove it, he loosened his tie and unbuttoned his white-collared shirt to reveal an entire body tattoo – chest and sleeves.

He also revealed he was a magician.

Sometimes you just never know who you’re dealing with and that’s what I find most fascinating about tattoos, especially the hidden kind.

With an open mind, I can see the draw of tattoos that mark an important point in time in your very personal history.   I’ll also withhold judgment when someone chooses to reveal their personal history in a tattooed sort of way.

Yet, in spite of this open mind, I personally choose to remain tattoo-free, mostly because I don’t like needles (not to mention that I was taught not to draw on myself).

We want to hear from you.

Are tattoos becoming an overrated fashion accessory these days? Are you glad you have a tattoo?  Do you think you’ll regret getting a tattoo, or would you regret not getting one?  Share your story (and if you enjoyed this story, please share it via the link below)!


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