Saturday, July 26, 2008

Tattoos and Piercings



I know a lot of people with tattoos.

My dad has tattoos. One on his upper arm, one on his lower arm. One he got when he was in the Merchant Marines in WWII.


The other he got when he was in the Army during the Korean War.


Both of them kind of say "I was there and I served."

I understand those kind of tattoos.

I know some of my fellow bloggers and people close to them have tattoos. I don't have anything against the art of tattooing in and of itself.

But there comes a point when, apparently, tattoos take precedent over everything else. A point where the person decides that permanently decorating their body is more important than where they can get a job, where they can live, who they can associate with and what kind of life they can live.


And I don't get that.

Tramp stamps are fun.


Ankle tattoos are sexy.



But when you get a swastika tattooed in the middle of your forehead,



Or "tear tattoos" to represent all of the prison terms you have served,



Or gang type shit that starts creeping up your neck and face,


You are pretty much advertising to the world "I give up! I will never have a normal job. Life will always be an uphill struggle for me. People's first impressions of me will always be defined by my ink rather than my education, intelligence and skills, and I will always accuse those people of being narrow-minded and judgemental. Certain jobs will always be out of the question. I am willfully choosing to limit my options to a very narrow scope."

I've never seen a tattoo that signified a PHD in physics from Princeton, or a Masters in Engineering from M.I.T. I can understand wanting to advertise that sort of accomplishment.

But a string of tears permanently advertising what a repeat offense loser you are? A gang tattoo that makes you forever unemployable? Finger tattoos that spell F U C K?

Don't even get me started on piercings.

Why would I want to hire someone I could never send on a business trip because they would create a scene at the TSA check points?

Do I want someone representing my business detained at the airport because they created a fuss about removing their nipple rings and clit studs?

Here is a good example of what I'm talking about.


Is that a great artistic tattoo? Absofuckinglutely! If all I ever wanted to do in my life was to work in a Halloween haunted house and be able to sleep late on show-day and not have to do my makeup...Awesome!

But in the real world, where will this guy ever get a job? How many jobs does he even have a shot at? How many possible companions in life does he have? How would you react if your daughter brought this idiot home? Would you want to explain his presence at Thanksgiving and Christmas? Would you want your grandchildren growing up with this guy as a role model? What recommendations can the Unemployment Councilor give him to help him out on interviews? He has severely limited his options and his choices are PERMANENT! You can't just change your mind about shit like this.

I'm old enough to know that you should always leave all of your options open, because life is a cruel mistress and you may be forced down paths that you never considered. It would be a shame to have one of those potentially lucrative paths blocked by in inappropriately placed tattoo of the Zig-Zag man.



The fact that I am visible-tattoo-free means I am forever able to control the first impression encounter.

If you have visible tattoos, you have forever surrendered control of that first impression to your ink.

But if you are O.K. with that, so am I.

It's your life.

Live it as you see fit.

Peace.

27 comments:

Jeff said...

"I've never seen a tattoo that signified a PHD in physics from Princeton, or a Masters in Engineering from M.I.T. I can understand wanting to advertise that sort of accomplishment"

No, but this is close:
http://carlzimmer.typepad.com/sciencetattoo/2008/06/weirdness-quantum-style.html

Tony said...

Good post. Nice images. At the risk of seeming lame for posting on a Saturday Night/Sunday Morning. From what I remember prison tattoo tears don't represent years, they are supposed to represent the number of people that you've killed or at least that you've killed someone.

Leigh Ann said...

I know a guy that's got Pi tattooed around his bicep. Look

Leigh Ann said...

Wait, here's a better picture of that and here's what he's got on the other arm.

meesha.v said...

I just saw a movie about Russian prison Tattoos -very interesting

Old Fart said...

I have four tats that I can't control who can see them. An Iron Cross on each index finger, a "3D" geometric cross on the top of my left hand, and a dagger on the top of my right hand. They are all crappy looking tats because they are quite old, but they can easily be seen. To any person who gets all worked up about my tats I say screw you, if you are so shallow that ink scares or worries you enough that you judge another person by it. I've had 6 jobs in I.T. in the last twenty years (with these tats)... and only one interviewer didn't hire me. It's because the person isn't JUST the ink, and once they listen to me, they tend to not see the tats. I understand your post isn't really about people with my kind of tats, but to me it's the same type of prejudice. No different than just looking at skin color, because in reality, a tatoo is just some skin color you've chosen.

Midtown Miscreant said...

The tear drops are meant to signify the number of people you have killed, at least thats how it started. Now it can mean prison stints, fallen comrades or homies, depending on your locale. A guy from my old nieghborhood had an eyeball tatted on the end of his dick. He would whip it out at parties to impress the girls. I never looked directly in to it, no homo. Ive got a smallish one on my forearm and a fairly large one on my upper arm. A background check usually has the same effect as a face tatt, in my case.

Satyavati devi dasi said...

I have six tattoos: one on each ankle, one on my right leg, one on my left wrist, one behind my left ear and one on my right shoulder. All of them are roses except the one behind my ear, which is a Sanskrit 'OM' (about 1 1/2" big, no missing it), one also says 'Scott' and one also says 'Patience'.

I have my nose pierced.

I had 2 tattoos when I started nursing. It made for great juxtaposition (aren't we good at that?!) to see a nurse in a cap and a white pinafore dress that has tattoos. People really, really had to look twice and had absolutely no idea what to make of me.

So far neither tattoos or nose ring have gotten in my way of getting a job (or a promotion into management, actually) but to be fair none of my tattoos are nasty and I think my name has a long way to go in making people wary of questioning the nosering.

Personally this is gross:
http://members.lycos.co.uk/isobelvarley/
especially if you look close and see what many of her tattoos consist of... and there's plenty you can't see unless she's nekkid..

Facial tattoos apart from noserings are pretty gross and these pics you have are also a bit much.

Like anything, moderation, or at least be tasteful.

Of course, tattoos are ubiquitous now and passe, and therefore as far as I'm concerned I'd never get another.. what's the point anymore? How much of a statement of who you are is having a tattoo when every junior high wannabe has one? Really.

But that's just me.

DLC said...

Having tattoos doesn;t mean you can't get a job at all. Seemingly everyone has them, it's just not that shocking anymore. Well, maybe in Kansas.

Very very few people look like these pictures. But people everywhere have ink--and a lot of it. I just don't know how these punky college girls can afford all these square feet of gorgeous ink.

Only reason I'm not tatted is because I;ve never had the money.

DLC said...

Oh yeah and I went to grad school with several people who got tattoos as a reward for finishing their degrees.

May said...

Yup, totally okay with it. All my tattoos are symbolic of something I struggled through (school, marriage, finding my voice as a writer...) and the change in my philosophy that resulted from it. Stuff that's so important to me that it makes me stronger seeing daily reminders of where I've been and how far I've come.

You can totally judge me by my ink :)

Anonymous said...

I love this rant. So insightful and educated. You know a lot about self expression. Look at your apartment, your car, Your Clothes, Your Life you got it RIGHT, got it all figured out!

...And You have somehow found your reflection in these people and maybe lack the self confidence to live without judgment.

For all the under educated I just said Look at yourself, your actions, your style, your life, before ever attempting to judge anyone or thing. You invite all the things in life you love & hate equally.

I hope your daughter and one of these guys have children.

Maybe Me?

Ohh By the Way I make well over $500k a year running a successful internet business you might actually use.

My picture is posted on here.

love ya

eerstkoffie said...

cool ! posted a link to your site, somewhere in this story http://eerstkoffie.blogspot.com/2009/09/trend-in-plastische-chirurgie-65.html . its dutch but you could babelfish it. althoug the humor and sarcasm will probably disappear ;)

Zynchnod said...

I think everyone is missing the point. The point is not about tattoos.... nothing about tattoos. It's about love and respect. You loved and respected your pa so much that your expectations of what a tattoo signified was determined by the way your pa wore them. We wore them as honour and courage. I think when you see other people with tatties, you can't always see the honour and courage like you saw in the love of your dad. Nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong at all with that. I have tats that mean stuff for me too. Ranging from army service to birthplace to even some prison time. Teardrops, stars, whatever.... we all have a meaning. What I believe is important is what resides beneath the tattoo. For some of us, it's strength... others it's not. For some it's low self-esteem... others it's not. A picture doesn't decide.

Way to love your pa. That's something that doesn't require a pic. ;)

EchoStar said...

Mr Anon is right.
Tattoos are irrelevent, choosing not to hire someone because they have piercings, especially the way you described it (I have eight piercings, and have never once set off the airport detectors (my piercings don't even set off the highly sensitive dectectors in court, judge from that what you will).

I agree that it is wrong to have a swastica on your head. But probably not for the reasons you stated. It's not a sign of self-defeat, or of admitting you never want a "normal" job (Whatever that may be). It is something that is intended to be offensive to others. That is why it is wrong.
I wonder, would tattooing a snowflake on your cheek cause as much of a stir as the teardrop.

Also - many tattooists are completely covered, and if anything, this helps their career.

Xavier Onassis said...

EchoStar - "I wonder, would tattooing a snowflake on your cheek cause as much of a stir as the teardrop."

Yeah, I think it would. The only difference that might soften it a bit is that a snowflake tattoo doesn't mean "I killed somebody".

"Also - many tattooists are completely covered, and if anything, this helps their career."

I'm sure that's true. If your only ambition in life is to be a tattoo artist. And I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with having that ambition. Not at all. I'm just saying that it limits your ambitions to that one choice. I don't know that narrowing or limiting the paths you can take in life is such a good thing.

I like to keep ALL of my options open.

Being totally covered in tattoos would probably limit my ability to pursue a career in public service or medicine or law. Careers where the perceptions of other people have a direct impact on my effectiveness.

Because tattoos are permanent, they don't allow you to change your mind later. You are stuck with your decision.

Is all I'm sayin.

Mohamed Atef said...

a7a
ya kos omk

Robert Talada said...

Doesn't creating a blog such as this bring with it the risk of destroying your ability to be taken seriously? I hire without any regard to their appearance and my workers are quite effective.

Maybe you shouldn't judge people.

*christy said...

I thought this blog post was fantastic. I found your blog while googling "Day of the Dead Skulls" to find ideas for my next tattoo. I am a 30 year old Registered Nurse with 4 tattoos, an 8 month old baby and a white picket fence. I knew when I started getting tattooed that I should think long and hard about my 80 year old self and what she will think is pretty. This has prevented some good and bad tattoos because not many things last the test of time. My favorite part of this blog post was the comments about it. The indignation that you would feel a certain way and write about it on your own blog... Keep having your own thoughts and opinions and tell everyone else to play Go F*** Yourself Scrabble.

Cartilage Piercing said...

This post is really interesting. I have my tunnel piercings, next time I’m planning to have a tattoo. I will visit this site very often for some ideas and design for my tattoo. Thank you for sharing this.

GEEZUS said...

***XAVIER... ur starting to piss me off. u stay in the same damn category as the judgemental people who assume everyone with tattoos is a criminal or a bad person.. i have tattoos from my finger tips all da way to fucc'n beijing. ive never had a problem getting a job up until i started my apprenticeship. every single tattoo i have on my body represents things ive encountered and been thru in my life.. and sometimes it looks or says something, that those who dont know what the deeper meaning is for me. idk what movies u been seeing that makes u so close minded to tattoos and the ppl who wear them. Oh! my bad, i meant 'VISUAL' tattoos cuz ur so worried about other people but urself. i say worry about yourself and not what everyone else does...it must be ppl who are insecure about themselves in one way or another.
*** All u did was post pics of ppl who got blasted in loCC up, prolly Cuz they cud care less cuz dey prolly aint gonna C daylight again.. Ima tattoo artist,(cant wait to C tha ones that doubted me tellin me i aint gonna go anywhere with drawing.. i soon graduated to graffiti. i have my reasons.. other than seeing a mural u jus created out of nothing.. jus like a tattoo.those fliccs can be compared to chicken scratch gang graffiti everyone thinks that thats all it is. theyre unaware abt the ART on the street.. and from graffiti, i got offered an apprenticeship at a shop, easy transition..., and 6 yrs later...here i am tellin u to fucc off. tattoos are becomming more and more accepted in todays society, but i still had both arms and my whole right leg sleeved up b4 i thought about becomming one, but i never worried about wut i would do with my life, because even after college, i knew i was never gonna settle for bein a desk monkey w/ paperwork n shit..so i chose to draw on ppl instead. hate all u want, fool.. im jus stating facts ur obviously oblivious to.

GEEZUS said...

***BTW bud..TEAR DROPS dont jus mean u killed someone...thats the original meaning. you think Lil' Wayne killed TWO people??? yea, no! BUT, so much has changed that tears no longer mean just that,but also for fallen soldiers. like i sed, some shit has different, DEEPER meanings to the ppl wearing them, rather den jus the blatant perception the tattoo gives out to outsiders. u dont kno what that persons been thru. most tattoos tell the story of that persons life along the journeys, whether it be the self esteem building tat2s, to stories translated into an art. on my right arm, i got a japanese sleeve even tho i aint japanese, the story about it represents me to the fullest..my left arm i got my Hawaiian/Samoan sleeve, and every pattern has a meaning, n im not gonna get into all of um,but i wear dem with pride..so much to the point ive smashed ppl who diss'd be cuz i had so many, so young. trust me, i get the 'youre so young, wut kinda job r u gonna get blahhhfkn blah'. i got called a tattoo freak by my neighbor, to my bacc.. then told her for get her husband out n i jus layd um out n told um for keep his bitch on a leash. fkn haoles... Anyway, for example of a pretty misguided tat2 along the side of my index N middle finger, it says " live clean, fight dirty".my gyms moto, but i didnt get it JUST because of that, mine goes deeper. (even tho our whole team has it on em, ha.) im only 23 yrs old and i can guarantee i have been thru more shit than most ppl twice my age, trust me. i got hooked on pain pills, and ive been clean for 2 years.. of course theres the blatant meaning most see and think.. but the "live clean" is a reminder to stay healthy, ect.. and the "fight dirty" means i gotta fight this addiction everyday for the rest of my life, and how hard i gotta fight for everything in my life.
**All im tryna say to everyone...is dont judge tattoos. or the people by face value. u dont know anything about theyre lives, and if they chose to get it in a certain place..thats their prollem if they cant get a job.
*** Hope this opened up atleast one person whos been close minded regarding this "Tattoo epidemic". -YUPSO INK.

..REPRESENTING HAWAI'I AND THE 744 TO THE DAY I DIE! 808 CUZZ! ALOHA.

triztan said...

Those of you who are trying to argue that tattoos are not "the real person" and that people should not judge another based on tattoos or piercings are exposing their own naivete. We, by necessity, judge people all the time and no argument will ever change that.

We judge others based on the information available, most often visual, as to whether or not those others are threats to our existence. Prejudicial presumptions are natural and normal for our survival. I must categorize you so I know how to react.

I don’t have time in my own life to untangle my own kinks, let alone look closer at your tattoos and see the deeper you, your sufferings and celebrations, the subtle meanings of your ink. I can’t be bothered with trying to understand the artistic expression or the sublimation of the human body that is your piercings. I can’t stop to analyze your body adornment as a means of you achieving recognition and a unique identity in a cold and impersonal world. The only interpretation that matters to me is my own.

Unless I am introduced to you by someone whose judgment I trust, or know something of your true personality beforehand, I must pigeonhole your existence into the behavioral patterns I have come to believe are true, right or wrong. I will immediately label you with as many overlapping and comparative adjectives that will allow me to successfully deal with you until you left my proximity.

And only if I decide to engage you as a deeper source of answers for my own quest, only if I find you of interest as a teacher, friend or lover, will I let myself look closer at the real you. Just like we do with every other person we meet, tattooed, pierced or not.

triztan said...

Those of you trying to argue that tattoos are not "the real person" and that people should not judge another based on tattoos or piercings are exposing your own naivete. We, by necessity, judge people all the time and no argument will ever change that.

We judge others based on the information available, most often visual, as to whether or not those others are threats to our existence. Prejudicial presumptions are natural and normal for our survival. I must categorize you so I know how to react.

I don’t have time in my own life to untangle my own kinks, let alone look closer at your tattoos and see the deeper you, your sufferings and celebrations, the subtle meanings of your ink. I can’t be bothered with trying to understand the artistic expression or the sublimation of the human body that is your piercings. I can’t stop to analyze your body adornment as a means of you achieving recognition and a unique identity in a cold and impersonal world. You have chosen to wear whatever mask this is, and the only interpretation of it that matters to me is my own.

Unless I am introduced to you by someone whose judgment I trust, or know something of your true personality beforehand, I must pigeonhole your existence into the behavioral patterns I have come to believe are true, right or wrong. I will immediately label you with as many overlapping and comparative adjectives that will allow me to successfully deal with you until you left my proximity.

And only if I decide to engage you as a deeper source of answers for my own quest, only if I find you of interest as a teacher, friend or lover, will I let myself look closer at the real you. Just like we do with every other person we meet, tattooed, pierced or not.

triztan said...

Those of you trying to argue that tattoos are not "the real person" and that people should not judge another based on tattoos or piercings are exposing an unfortunately often reinforced naivete. We, by necessity, judge people all the time and no argument will ever change that.

We judge others based on the information available, most often visual, as to whether or not those others are threats to our existence. Prejudicial presumptions are natural and normal for our survival. I must categorize you so I know how to react and respond to you.

I don’t have time in my own life to untangle my own kinks, let alone look closer at your tattoos and see the deeper you, your sufferings and celebrations, the subtle meanings of your ink. I can’t be bothered with trying to understand the artistic expression or the sublimation of the human body that is your piercings. I can’t stop to analyze your body adornment as a means of you achieving recognition and a unique identity in a cold and impersonal world. You have chosen to wear whatever mask it is, and the only interpretation of it that matters to me is my own.

Unless I am introduced to you by someone whose judgment I trust, or know something of your true personality beforehand, I must pigeonhole your existence into the behavioral patterns I have come to believe are true, right or wrong. I will immediately label you with as many overlapping and comparative adjectives that will allow me to successfully deal with you until you leave my proximity.

And only if I decide to engage you as a deeper source of answers to my own quest, only if I find you of interest as a teacher, friend or lover, will I let myself look closer at the real you. Just like we do with every other person we meet, tattooed, pierced or not.

Anonymous said...

you do realize that the guy with the skull is rick genest? a rich ass super model, who's dated lady gaga... got famous BECAUSE of his tattoos.

Anonymous said...

Honestly those who care what people think will never get it. my Photos is up there and I do quite well for myself and Im probably banging your daughter.