Don’t Tattoo Me

Thanks for your thoughtful comments about tattoos yesterday. I’ll now tell you that Ginny is the one considering the tattoo, and is also the anonymous commenter defending her choices yesterday in case you care to read her view on the whole thing. I think between your arguments and her own she’s talked us into the wrist location, mainly because she plans to get a very, very small tattoo there. So it won’t be screaming, LOOK AT MY TATTOO!

She has a number of Chinese characters for various things in mind and has not decided on one yet. She still hasn’t convinced me that her various choices are quite right, and I’m trying to encourage her to pick something that will have meaning to her for a long, long time. Because here’s my thinking: if you’re going to have a tattoo in a visible location, it will prompt people to ask about it. And if people are going to ask about it, then you need to have a good story about why it’s there. So far, Ginny doesn’t have the best story she could have.

But then, I’m a storyteller, whether I like it or not, and if something doesn’t have a good story it’s basically useless to me.

I don’t have issues with tattoos in general, but I do have issues with things that are tacky, and a lot of tattoos are tacky. I’ve seen some tattoos that are totally fine, and some that are very attractive, and I’ve seen some on a few guys that are astonishingly hot. For the record, these generally did not include barbed wire.

From high school until when I was about Ginny’s age, I spent a lot of time thinking about getting a tattoo. Ultimately, I never went through with it, for a few reasons. For one thing, I can barely decide what color to paint my toenails, and so marking something permanently on my skin is out of the question. I would hate it a week later. But the main reason is because I have no tolerance whatsoever for pain, and tattoos hurt.

Why in the hell am I going to pay someone actual cash money to inflict pain on me? Especially when I’m not going to be any tougher or cooler afterward?

I’d also like to express for the record that I’m not so much into the lower back tattoo, mainly because it’s the new bellybutton ring. And I also didn’t get my bellybutton pierced in college when all my friends did. Why? Because THAT SHIT HURTS. I saw all my friends with giant Karate Kid bandages around their midsections, complaining about how they couldn’t sleep for the pain and how they were bleeding all the time and I was like okay, no body piercing for me. Do I care if other people get their bellybuttons pierced? Nope, not really. But I also don’t think it’s a unique conversation piece or attention-getter anymore, because everyone has one. Likewise with the lower back tattoo.

Do you remember that there was a time when the lower back was like this unexpectedly sexy part of a woman’s body, and for some people, an innocent glimpse of that strip of skin would be a secret excitement? Yeah, someone found out about that and then we got low-rise jeans and lower back tattoos everywhere and now the lower back isn’t sexy anymore, because it’s not a secret.

Anyway. I’m totally ranting now and getting way off-topic. I don’t care if Ginny or anyone else wants to get a tattoo. I have had a belief, though, that might make me unexpectedly conservative, and that belief is that you shouldn’t do anything even remotely counterculture to your body if it could be seen in a job interview. Which is the main reason I argued against the wrist. I think I might be changing my mind a little, though, in light of overwhelming arguments that these things aren’t as big a deal as they used to be. We’ll see.

Comments 10

  • i stand by not liking the wrist, but retract my other journal picture statements cuz it’s your SISTER.

    also.

    plenty of people feel that if a job couldnt stand thier tattoos, they shouldnt work there, and i respect that.

    i still find the lower back (and corresponding tattoos) incredibly sexy, probably because lowrise pants (low-rise? dumb word! what is wrong with people?!)have not really made it to my social groups at all. thank god.

    one of the girls i dated had a tattoo made of something she drew on her hand. um.

  • I’m with Jim on the lower back thing.. it may be done all too often, and living in Huntington BEACH California, I see all variations of them, but I don’t get tired of ’em. Damn sexy.

  • One tattoo plus that hasn’t been mentioned yet is the history factor. Hundreds or thousands of years from now, when ten-legged aliens have appropriated our fair planet, they’ll doubtless dig us up and examine us and look for answers to interstellar mysteries like “Why in the world would anyone have voted republican in 2004?” and “Who is this Michael Jackson character who seems to have been the center of attention?” It’s nice to think that during this time, we can help out our new overlords by documenting our likes and dislikes for ever and ever, so that when they put us on the examination room table, they’ll be able to say right off that, for example, “This girl considered herself a ‘lover of dolphins,’ although she chose to express this sentiment in Chinese symbology, so that her casual acquaintances would not subject her to all their dolphins stories.” And so on and so forth.

  • hi… i have a tattoo on my wrist. i also have a tattoo of a chinese character that i got when i was 16 so i feel imminently qualified to comment. the chinese character is in a place that is very invisible, which is good because even though i don’t regret it, i wouldn’t choose that again… i don’t know much about china and i feel like it’s kind of weird cultural appropriation. it was especially weird when i started working on issues related to china, and all the people around me really knew the country, and the language and saw my tattoo. i felt like a poseur. i now tell people it’s a tree because that’s what it pretty much looks like. the artist didn’t know chinese either and he kind of warped it.

    the other one is on my wrist. i too, work a fairly conservative job (or did and am now in law school… on my way to another conservative job.) it hasn’t really effected me, but i does make me occasionally self-conscious. i wear long sleeves to job interviews and so on. i love it though and it’s totally unique since i designed it myself. therefore my vote is wrist YAY, chinese character NAY. (mine is not one the front of my wrist but the back… less subtle. and interestingly, very little pain involved.)

    (P.S. something you might not know, but a friend who’s sister recently gave birth told me that tattoos on the lower back right at the base of the spine can mean that women can’t get an epidural… therefore i vote NAY for base of spine too – just in terms of keeping the options open! i haven’t googled that to see if it is true, but i’m not taking any chances.)

  • I’m weighing in late because I’m slow. I have a small tattoo at the base of my neck, but low enough that if I’m wearing a normal shirt, it’s invisible. It’s a Chinese symbol that means “chaos” and I’ve wanted it since I was about 15, but I waited until I was 25 to get it because I wanted to be sure I really wanted it. Turns out, I do. In my area, we call the lower back tattoos “slut-toos”. That’s all I’m saying about that. Ankle = tacky in my humble opinion, but not nearly as tacky as right on the back of the calf. Ew. Are those required to be Taz? Because they always are. Wrist, though, I think is really cool, and now I’m thinking hard about that for my next one. Has anyone warned Ginny about the seriously addictive power that tattoos have?

  • You asked for our opinions and you got them in boatloads. Now that we know it’s Ginny, we can at least be thankful she’s around and back on two legs again, tattoo or no tattoo.

  • As a multiply tattoed one (at least one quite visible in the photos on my blog), I wholeheartedly TASTEFUL, well-thought-out tattoo choices.

  • interesting debate here. funny that what some of us guys thought washot most of the women said was slutty.

    tattoos: bringing out the high school in all of us.

    my ex girlfriend also had the charcater for chaos.

  • I totally agree that tattoos should be well thought out. Especially in the case of foreign characters and signs since you have no idea if the sign says what you think it does.

    I mean you don’t want your cool new chines symbol for “love” to actually mean “dog” LOL. That would suck

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