Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ugly People Shouldn't have Tattoos?

About a year ago I got one done. It's one that I reckon could be put in the "tasteful" class. A Polynesian pattern in a circle at the top of my left arm, at least that's how it was described in the book.

I'd wanted one for a while and was keen to get one that I wouldn't regret when I hit 35 or so! I was also keen that I didn't get something done that would show up whenever I walked out of the house, not some massive pattern in blue ink sliding down my arm and oozing onto my hand, nor a piece of body art that all can see whenever I wear anything that isn't a nun's habit.

Here in the UK I've noticed that everyone's got one done. If I were a tattooist I'd be pleased about this. I'm not, I'm a drummer so it doesn't really matter to me, particularly as I'm not a drummer who owns a tattoo parlour. But it does appear to be the latest thing, the height of being in vogue and what all the kids are doing. I'm not against that, fashion is good as far as I'm concerned. What I struggle with is the alarming thing I've observed lately, it's something that, were I Prime Minister, King or even vaguely important, I'd ban with immediate effect.

Yes, it's the sheer vast quantity of wholly untrendy people sporting tattoos. They've always been a bit "working class" here, going back many years. Those old sailors and tradesmen used to get them done, presumably because it was a bit of a macho and manly thing to do. Think of Popeye and that old plumber that your parents used to use. Or any builder, or Winston Churchill.

Many of these working class heroes got old, fat and unkempt. When I was a kid it was quite normal to see these older types sporting their faded tats as they did the shopping or waded into the beach at Brighton with a knotted handkerchief on top of their head. Middle class people just didn't have a tat, unles they were army officers or something.

Nowadays it's all changed. Tattoos have been made available for the masses. The average tattoo parlour is frequented by the same demographic mix that can be found at the local Gap. A crowd that wears khaki trousers with a pleated front, a blue and white stripey shirt and sports a small tattoo on its right shoulder.

Actually I can live comfortably with the tattooed Gap crowd, particularly as I'm a member of that club. The blue and white stripey shirt is actually one of my favourites. But it's the sight of these totally square, dowdy and frumpy looking people, dressed like my old school physics teacher (sorry Mr Duke) with a little tattoo on their upper arm. Or these ugly and old fashioned women with a tiny little devil tattoo on their ankle. I see them everywhere in London and even in other parts of the world. I think the American ones are the worst. Jen or Britney with a cute little ink pattern on their right breast is simply the stuff of one of my dreams, but not Roseanne Barr or one of those tourists wandering around Victoria looking for the Queen.

Women and men who look as if they're models for a page straight out of the Saga Holidays catalogue, the epitome of squarely dressed people, stroll around sunny streets showing off their body art. The clothes are more normal and conservative than the stuff the members of the local parish council wear to their monthly meetings. It's all Jesus boots, Fruit of the Loom T shirts and Marks & Spencer shorts, or maybe even the dreaded "slacks". The whole look is set off by a tattoo of a little devil on a fat ankle somewhere, or a heart on the right shoulder blade.
It's as if a single tattoo can make a totally untrendy person into an Angelina type without anything else, no makeover and no millions in the bank.

I went to see Muse (as you probably know) the other day and the sun was out and all were in T shirts and general summery clothes. And everyone wore their tattoos with pride. There were arms full of ink everywhere, there were wrists with those band things, shoulders with little red shapes and necks with names all around. It's interesting to look at and, in the setting of a stadium gig by arguably the UK's biggest rock band, T shirts and tattoos appeared the perfect dress code.

My attitude towards my own one is one of understatement. The view and attitude that it's a bit personal, something I didn't get done so much for others to see as for myself and that select band of people to view. I don't strut my stuff in a vest top and I don't go around shouting

"look at my whacky artwork"

It's nice that a few people see it occasionally, or if I go swimming or do naked rude things then it will get seen, maybe even admired. It's just not a huge big public statement of my "trendiness" that I want all to be aware of.

But, enough about uglies.

I also find that there's something just so sexy about a beautiful woman, dressed stylishly with a subtle tattoo in one of the right places, one of the "beauty spots". Actually, the more I dwell on it, the more I think that a beauty spot could be pretty much anywhere as long as the tattoo is subtle and the person looks good in other ways too.

And subtle for me is something indefinable. It's all about the whole picture, the sense of style about the person and how they carry themselves.

But the ultimate beauty spot has got to be that lower back area, just above the bum.Maybe it's a sort of pointer to forbidden fruit or a suggestion of things to come, maybe it's a kind of pure vanity on the part of the woman, that's it's done wholly for the pleasure of someone who is approaching from that angle.

They're usually in some kind of shape that "points" downwards towards the bum too. That's not fair is it? Show me a man who doesn't catch themselves staring at one of those "above the bum" tattoos when they see a beautiful woman bending down and getting something off the bottom shelf in a supermarket and I'll show you a weirdo or someone who never goes to a supermarket. We can't resist.

Simple pleasures!


Darwin said...

Did you know that a tattoo on the lower back area just above the bum is known as the 'tramp stamp'?

I have an abject fear of needles so no, not really my thing. Even if I didn't, theres something inherently skanky about it I think. Can't explain it better than that, sorry!

ravana said...

I was just going to say that lots of women have something against the "tramp stamp" when I noticed Darwin's comment! It's true. Lots of "nice" girls hate it, and the guys who always agree with the "nice" girls hate it too. And, I don't know, now that it's got that sleazy image thing with some people, I dunno if I'd want my daughter to get one, cos y'know, I don't want my daughter being thought of as a tramp (even if she is a dirty slut and exists wholly in a hypothetical universe in my neo-cortex).

Er... yeah, and having said that... badly... I have to say that I still do really really really dig the "tramp stamp"... really really badly. It has a way of by-passing your brain and going straight to the base of your you-know-what's-it.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Darwin - Thanks, I never knew the tramp stamp thing. It's slightly disappointing that I usually find them so sexy!

Ravana - The whole daughter issue is a bit close to home for me! A massive minefield that is just openieng up, if minefields oopen up that is.

I wonder if there are any men out there who don't like a tramp stamp.

N said...

I like the tramp stamp (well as long as its not too big)...about as much as Ravana...there is another name for it but I'll keep it to myself:)

I have one myself and lookng to add to it significantly but only in non-visible areas.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

n - you've got a tramp stamp?

Anonymous said...

i bet sarongtroubleshooter has a tramp stamp

pissu perera said...

tramp stamp? really? damn, i wanted one of them...the name took the colour out of it..bummer...:(

David Blacker said...

I used to find tats on a chick a real turn on until I realised every babe and her mum (literally) has one. I've got plenty myself, and I started before it was really cool, and I now find that what turns me on is the whole pain & rebellion thing.

So. In a word. Piercings ;)

n said...

err..bloody semantics...not a tramp stamp...a tattoo!:)

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

anonymous - I hope she has!!

Pissu - "Bummer" - a fine choice of word there!

David - I'm not a fan of piercings but at least they can be removed when we get old (er) and wrinkly.

N - Good to know mate, I was getting a bit worrried.

Theena said...

I don't know about this 'tramp stamp' to be honest. One of the classiest ladies/girls I know, a former work colleague, has one in the lower back. If anything, it just enhanced her already considerable good looks.

On topic, I am thinking of getting a tattoo done. One of those with a five year life time after which it will begin to fade away.

The design: perhaps the corna ( tto piss off as many religious people as I can.

Janus said...

I wouldn't get a tattoo.. I feel unique cos I dont have one.. Heh heh..

Sadly, had to remove the piercings though.. Hard to wear them to meetings..

Ami said...

Majority who answered are for tattoos.
I cannot fathom nor imagine a more hideous way to mutilate a persons’ (already) naturally beautiful & artistic body. Perhaps these people (rather their bodies) do not fall to the aforementioned category.
Perhaps they get their tattoos to cover their butt ugliness.
I cannot see beyond the revolting affect tattoos have on me. Sorry.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Theena - I didn't know about these 5 year ones, is that true?

Janus - Yes it seems the way now that you're in a minority if you don't have one.

Ami - Fair enough, all are different I guess.

Theena said...

RD, Ze Cynical One told me about the 5 year tatoos. I'll ask her and let you know.

pissu perera said...

lol...i didn't realize the context in which i was using the word..i wanted a 5 year tat as well, before i found out that after 5 years it just becomes a shapeless blob of ink on your i think i'll steer clear of that one..

Jack Point said...

In the 19/20th century, tattoos started off strictly working class and slightly sleazy at that and identified with sailors.

They became fashionable recently but judging from what you are saying, looks like they are heading back to the working classes.

Personally speaking, on women they can be pretty attractive, if properly done, although I would be very reluctant to see one on a woman I intended to marry....

(double standards I knowm but what the this case at least...)

SpectralCentroid said...

Thanks Darwin for bloody ruining that mental image :)

Bah. I'm thinking of getting one on my upper arm. Can't decide on what to get though. Since childhood, I've been facinated, nearly obsessed with skulls and artwork involveing skulls. However a tat involving a skull somehow comes out as being sleazy and pretentious if you are not a pirate or a biker. The challenge is to find a either a skull design that doesn't come off that way or non-skull design that I'd like to have inked to my body forever.

Anonymous said...

Lets take a girl like that Kat Von D, on the new Tattoo show LA ink.....on the discovery channel. She is hot, granted, but way way too many tatts all over her arms legs neck some on her face. What is she going to look like when she is 60 and not so hot any more, saggy skin, and a million tats on her body, ........a monster

I do not think people who get tats think will this look on a 50 or 60 year old. or maybe they dont think they will live that long

Frank Mitchell said...

A beautiful woman can look like a million dollars. Then put a 200 dollar tattoo on her and she'll look like 200 dollars. A woman who likes tattoos just can't be trusted with perfect skin. She will go and spoil it all!