Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Thinking about Tattoos

I've been reading the book "Dorothy Parker's Elbow: Tattoos on Writers, Writers on Tattoos". I'm fascinated with why people get Tattoos and how they are viewed by others. There have been a few ideas presented in various stories in this book that have stuck with me for a few days that I thought I would try to share.

When is a Tattoo complete? When is it really yours? The new work isn't yours until the healing process is complete. When you no longer feel the raised lines on your skin, when the pealing and roughness is gone, and the hair has grown back. Only after you can no longer feel it, only then, does it "feel" real. There is an adjustment period where you have to get used to your new skin.

I have a low pain threshold. So why go through it? One idea is that it's your choice, no one is telling you to do it, you're in control. For some the process of getting the Tattoo is empowering simple because they are for a brief period in control. They are forever changing their appearance in a manner they choose. Personally, I like the artwork, but I suspect that deep down this is true for me as well.

Having visible ink opens you up to questions and comments from people you don't know. Strangely the people I know well say less about them than people I don't know. Some people I meet have tattoos and smile or compliment the work, there is a sense of community. Others that are interested in them, or just curious will ask the same questions everyone has heard a hundred times. "Does it hurt?", "How long did it take?", "How much did it cost?"

Then there are the others that are disturbed or scared of anyone with Tattoos. There are people who still believe the stereotypes that anyone with Tattoos is a biker or an ex-con. Most people think your low-income or some hick. I've done pretty well choosing good artists and getting good looking work, so I've started getting asked if I'm a tattoo artist.

It's funny how we all make broad assumptions like this when meeting knew people. Every interaction we have is clouded by our initial assumptions based solely on appearance. L and I always laugh when we go to a fancy restaurant or store and get shoddy or slow service due, most likely, to our attire. The better you are dressed the better the service is. Now add Tattoos to the mix and you've reached a new level. The irony is that we are pretty well off compared to most. The more interesting thing is that people who seem to be put-off by my tattoos don't say anything negative, they just ignore me completely, which I have to say is usually a good thing. I tend to like people with an open mind better anyway.

Not sure there is a moral to all this I'm just rambling. Type at you later.