On Tattoos

I read Rarasaur’s post this morning about Tattoos With Purpose.  It was her response to Michelle W.’s Daily Post Challenge: The Next Big Thing.  She did say that she did not think she would like to have a tattoo, thank you very much.

I have to admit that this topic gave me pause.  I have yet to successfully wrap my brain around this sociocultural practice, gesture, ritual, and even artistic expression.   The images that come to my mind are those of Francis Dolarhyde (played masterfully by Ralph Fiennes) in Red Dragon or Lisbeth Salander (by Rooney Mara) in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Red Dragon, photo courtesy of www.in.com

Red Dragon, photo courtesy of http://www.in.com

Movies abound in tormented characters, dastardly villains, fearless crusaders, and the like, sporting various body emblems like it’s a badge of honor.  However, these are the movies, not real life. We don’t get to see them years later to see if the tattoos are no longer relevant or what they look like when these characters are older.

I have had the unfortunate experience of landing in the middle of a tattoo and piercings convention almost 10 years ago when we drove to Reno to attend one of my daughter’s volleyball tournaments.  The hotel the teams (and entourage of parents and coaches) were booked in also hosted the convention the same weekend.  So, I have seen tattoos in just about any and all permutations you could think about from that weekend.

Then Rara turns and posits this: What if tattoos come with a purpose?  What if say, tattoos can have embedded microchips that can detect rising blood glucose levels or changes in your blood enzymes to warn of an impending heart attack?  I suppose that would be novel.  However, I would rather see the microchips embedded in your bloodstream, as in small microscopic drones.  Medical staff can monitor periodically if it’s still in your system or if you have excreted it in your urine or other bodily pathways.

Nanotechnology in Medicine, Fight Against Cancer, photo credit www.ansa.it

Nanotechnology in Medicine, Fight Against Cancer, photo credit http://www.ansa.it

Or how about this:  Put multiple drones to attack specific cancer cells in your body.  Then, when they’re done, they can be flushed down your toilet.  I would think this would be far more targeted and accurate than embedding it in the skin.  Nanotechnology has made great advances recently.  It’s just a matter of time.  In this way, you could also do away with the painful needle-engraving.

What of the great passion for a cause or pact to be memorialized in a tattoo?  What will you do with the tattoo once the cause is no longer a cause or the pact has achieved its purpose or ceases to be relevant?  Or you just broke up with the “love of our life” and his name is on your body?  Laser technology has come a long way for second chances at fading no longer relevant tattoos.  But, the technology has not been 100% successful and not without pain.  Why go through with the painful procedure?  If it’s to show you’re made of stern stuff, I could think of 10 other ways to prove pluck and chutzpah without damaging the integrity of your most valuable biological barrier.

I have told my daughter that she will never hear the end of it from me if she so much as have the tiniest tattoo in her entire body, regardless of where it is.  Any good daughter knows that the incessant, perpetual, and unrelenting wailing, hand-wringing, and complaining of a mother is something she can do without completely.  😉

Perhaps it’s generational. Or cultural. Whatever it is, I don’t think less of people who choose to have tattoos (except daughter, who says, she does not care for it anyway.).  I can only hope it’s an informed decision all the way. Like body piercings or blepharoplasty or face lifts.

Thank you, Rara, for a thought-provoking post!

 

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21 Responses to On Tattoos

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  10. I just read this blog today and I was reminded of so many things, one example is my sister when she got a tattoo for her eyebrows and did not like how it turned out. She said that she was thankful that she was able to erase or have some of it fade as soon as she comes home. I was also reminded of years before when I’m still a young nurse at Philippine Heart Center. When a child need to undergo heart surgery the family of our pediatric patient on charity ward will be asked to have their neighbor or family members to donate blood since we need certain set of blood when heart surgery are performed. We always tell to the parents of the child to “please do not bring any family member or person with tattoos”, they are automatically excluded as blood donors by the hospital knowing most of the tattoos in the Philippines are done in the street and with high possibility that needles are shared. It also made me remember a patient whose fore arms upper and lower are full with tattoos and we could not see nor palpate a vein to establish an IV access. As for me since there are many ways of artistic expressions I resolve not to use my skin like a billboard or site of a pact to be memorialized, I guess that way I save myself from unnecessary pain, that’s just my opinion and I respect others opinion contrary to mine. Thanks for the privilege of reading your blog.

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    • likeitiz says:

      Thank you for your insights and first-hand experiences into this practice, phenomenon, custom, self-expression, art, whatever—- I continue to try and wrap my brain around it and am still struggling to understand why people do it. I don’t find it increases attractiveness. But I’m of a different generation, I’m sure younger people will say to justify their near obsession with it. The media has glorified it. It speaks volumes for toughness, for “up yours” to the establishment,for daring (albeit reckless, for “cool” or “hip,” similar to what smoking was in the 50’s and 60’s.

      There are sad realities with the practice— as you mentioned, the shared needles, hygiene, the dalliance with AIDS or Hepatitis B or C, to name a few.

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  11. likeitiz says:

    Yup! It’s all so exciting.

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  12. I like the way Rara thinks! In fact, such is becoming the reality every day. Temporary tattoos now come with embedded electronic patches for doing just that. And medicimachines, nanomachines that perform medical tasks, are also being developed. We should talk… 😉

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  13. Writerlious says:

    I’m tattooed! But, luckily, the 2 tattoos I acquired in my youth are in places that I can easily hide if I choose. *grins*

    I can’t yet speak to what they’ll look like at 50, or 60, but I guess we’ll see…. LOL

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    • likeitiz says:

      I will never forget this lovely woman I met at a seminar back in the late 90’s. She was the HR director for the entire California for this big restaurant chain. She confessed that she always wore high collars at work no matter what the weather. She liked mock turtle necks, closed necklines, even blouses with ties or ribbons. She had a large tattoo of a butterfly across her upper chest. Now that she’s corporate, she felt she has to hide it all the time because it would be distracting and it might undermine her creativity. She said she had the tattoo done in her teens and there were no new ways to remove tattoos.

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  14. munchow says:

    I am a little biased on this one. Basically I agree with you – and can hardly see myself getting a tattoo, but I also acknowledge the way it can be a way of self expression as vastlycurious.com points out. I guess I think it’s fine for others then… 🙂

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    • likeitiz says:

      Agree. Like I said, I don’t think less of people who have it. It’s their artistic expression. However, it’s rather permanent. And painful. And so, I believe it should be an informed decision, not based on peer pressure, drunk-dares, or a lark or whim.

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  15. This is one of my bucket wish list. Not as striking as the Red Dragon but something that is “me.” By the way, that was one thrilling movie.

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  16. I like self expression. I don’t have any but I love to look at them. Some are truly art and some just lines as in Tribal Tattoos. I do wonder what a tattoo placed in an obvious spot will look like in 40 years…….thats my thought : )

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    • likeitiz says:

      Yes, you’re right about the tribal tattoos. I forgot about those. I’ve seen tattoos in over-tanned leathery old bodies, in the convention I had mentioned. I guess one could think about the exciting life that body must have lived through in the past…..

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