Perspective - Tattoos

As a sort of disclaimer let me say that I do not think that tattoos are evil, bad, or wrong, nor do I think the people who get them are evil, bad, or wrong. This is just an essay on why I think people get tattoos.

Tattoos originated many years ago. They were originally a way to painfully place a permanent mark on the body in order to act as a reminder or to show achievement. In our culture they have become a means of advertisement and to look more attractive. I have always wondered why a culture would find tattoos attractive. Why does our culture do this?

If you've ever studied birds you will notice something very interesting about their mating habits. Female birds are usually attracted to the bright colors of the male of their species. With humans it works the same way. People are attracted to the appearance of others not based solely on their physical appearance, but also their decorations, such as clothing, jewelry, and tattoos.

Are tattoos only used for a means of attraction? Well, have you noticed that people who have lots of tattoos are often considered dangerous by the majority of our culture? Could it be possible that humans use tattoos for an intimidation factor? Why do you see bikers with burning skull tattoos and other less accepted depictions? These are the self-proclaimed rebels, why would they want to look like everyone else? Traditionally, tattoos were seen mostly on tough men, but now the tattoo has been mostly accepted in our culture, and is free to be put on family men, teenagers, and even (heaven forbid) women.

With the tattoo parlor rapidly leaving the dank shop across the tracks and moving to a suburb in your neighborhood, one can only wonder how trendy it's becoming. The tattoo is now considered "cool" by pretty much everyone, when just a few decades ago they were considered a scary taboo thing to have. With "cool" comes the desire to belong, and with the desire to belong comes the trendy corporate brand name. I can't wait to see a Tattoos 'R Us store.

Allow me to make an analogy between a tattoo and a bumper sticker. Bumper stickers are great at first, but as the quality of the sticker begins to degrade, and your feelings towards the message fade as well, you no longer want it. Unfortunately, bumper stickers don't come off very easily and you end up having to go through a lot of work just to remove it. Tattoos share those same qualities.

People who get tattoos at a young age, often times regret them when they get older. Tattooing the name of your favorite band onto your arm is nice when you're young, but when you turn fifty, and the band's name is N*Sync, you'll probably regret it. Tattoos of naked women or violent depictions seem really grand when you are 19, but when you turn 35 they're hard to explain to your two children. Even worse is to tattoo your spouse's name on your body, only to end up divorcing them later.

The big problem with tattoos is that they usually depict things you have a particular fondness towards at the time. If you are a human, you will know that your opinions change as you get older and the things you liked five years ago are the things you make fun of now. For those younger people that want a tattoo of something, first imagine what you will look like when you are fifty with the tattoo. Butterfly and fairy tattoos look out of place on a grandmother, and "Megadeth" on a father seems a bit odd.

Then there are the people who say that by the time they get older and the tattoo looks bad, they won't care anymore. It frightens me to think some people can be so short-sighted. Older people take an amount of pride in their appearance just like everyone else. You don't just stop caring about what you look like when you turn fifty.

So am I trying to tell you not to get a tattoo? Of course not. Your life, your body, your decision. All I can hope for is that you think everything through and be responsible before you get that butterfly tattoo on your lower back that everyone else has.