Is it just me, or is there an ever-increasing percentage of people sporting tattoos? Is there also
a simultaneous increase in the percentage of available skin being devoted to tats? I sure think so.
I believe I reached the tat’s tipping point this past Sunday when I spied one on the calf muscle of my good friend and cycling partner, Greg Drury (publisher of The Holmes Report). Justifiably proud of having completed six triathlons, Greg’s right calf is now adorned with a bright red ‘tri’ logo. Man, I thought, if ‘they’ got Greg Drury to sport a tat, they’ve got everyone. Don’t ask me who they are, but they’ve won nonetheless.
I’m not a big fan of tats. I especially hate the over-the-top tats that seem to run amok on the torsos of NFL and NBA players. Some players have their kids’ names tattooed on their biceps. That’s cute. Others feature verses from the Bible (hoping, perhaps, that God will let them make that three-point shot at the buzzer?). And, some have those Japanese and Chinese letters on them. They look very cool, but what’s the point if no one understands what they say or mean?
If I were going to sacrifice my skin permanently, I think I’d charge money for it. In fact, if the price were right, I’d consider adorning my calves, biceps and triceps with any number of hip, but environmentally-sensitive, sponsor logos. I like Mammoth outdoor gear, so that would be one. I wear Saucony running shoes, so their logo would make the cut. And, I’d also want the world to know I’m a man of discerning tastes, so I’d go with a Zegna or Armani icon on, say, my wrist.
Tats are a personal image and reputation statement. But, I’m not sure exactly what statement is being made. Is a tattoo nothing more than a plaintiff cry for attention? Is it a must-have fashion accessory that, unlike a watch, can’t be taken off every night? Or, is it a peer pressure kind of thing? (i.e. “If Lindsay and Heather have tats on their shoulders, then I have to have one on mine. So there.”).
All this tat thinking has me thinking. If it were trendy at the time, would Lincoln have had a tat? My guess is he’d have gone with the opening line of the Gettysburg Address and put it on one of his biceps. The rail splitter had to have been cut. I’ll bet Napoleon would have had multiple tats. He did have a Napoleonic complex, after all. And, my guess is Winston Churchill would have had that big, fat cigar permanently tattooed on his neck.
If and when I do decide to follow Greg Drury’s lead and get a tattoo, I know what it will be and where it will go: it’ll be the Peppercom logo and it’ll be right smack on the small of my back. And, yes, it will be a plaintive cry for attention. Tat’s all, folks.
That’s really interesting, Gaetano. If an armchair sociologist were to analyze such findings, he might see a correlation between ‘prison fashion’ such as tats, lowrider jeans and shoelaceless sneakers and modern urban style statements.
While I have been a maven of useless trivia I believe the following facts are relavant to the tat conversation. The following piece of trivia is from back in the mid 1970’s when I took a graduate school class in Sociology…at the time only a fraction of 1% of the population had a tatoo. Interestingly over 60% of convicted murderers had tatoo’s…the tatoo was seen as a harbinger of the ultimate destruction of the human body. Makes you wonder how the tat became popular in today’s culture.
To each his or her own, Julie. I’m still stunned that Ed has decided to tattoo his back with the Drew University logo.
Always fascinating to get the academic perspective on issues such as this. Thanks Brian. Quick question: what would you think of your advisory board chairman tattooing a CofC logo on his wrist? Would Tucker, John, Keith, et al, think any less of me?
Based on the ink my students display, retirement homes will be awash in distorted and unreadable tattoos by 2050. However, I don’t see any evidence that tattoos are more common now for the college set than they were five years ago.
I have no expectation that 20-somethings will pick up my fashion choices, but I do worry about the students with neck and face tattoos that can’t be strategically covered. Such tattoos are still relatively rare, happily.
Why anyone would willingly scar themselves permanently (and pay for it, too!) is beyond me. Used to be tattoos were a brand only seen on macho sailors; somehow seeing tats displayed on middle-aged soccer moms doesn’t quite seem right.
Couldn’t agree more, bookandbloggeek. I’m OK with a discrete tat a la a possible Peppercom logo on the small of my back. My business partner, Ed, has a different POV and recently had a huge Drew University logo tattooed across his shoulder blades. I don’t get it.
What about all those kids with them at last weekend’s shindig. Full sleeves, half a torso. I find it repulsive. Do they realize that most of it will be much lower as they get older. Don’t like it, don’t get it and have asked my own kids not to do it. Not for me and not even for money.
I agree, Bob. Word of mouth is powerful. But, imagine the reach of word of skin! As noted, I’m available to sacrifice my skin in a pay for play tats gambit but, a la King James, I’d like to have five or six brands compete for my body.
Tats are a public declaration of…well…whatever people are announcing to world as they walk by, whether it be unknown Chinese symbols or their love for mom. Now, if we could just get people to proclaim their love of brands in an easily collected way.