Let's All Brand Together
Pretty soon, all the surburban housewives will be getting pictures of their minivans tattooed on their hindquarters. Probably for at least a few of them, with the tedious popularity of tattoos, it will be the only empty "canvas" left on their bodies. Emily Hill writes for The Guardian about how tattoos have become the norm, and for the most "normal" of people:
Once upon a time tattoos were - as the French say - "for criminals and Germans". Now they are in Vogue - literally, starting on p152. "They walk among us, people. The tattooed," the article on "How tattoos stopped being taboo" begins. "Once you start looking, start taking note ... everyone's got a tattoo these days."
...According to a 2006 poll, one in four American adults (a full 30 million of them) boast an inking. Soon enough your mother will get one - the highest rise in tat-demand is apparently among middle-aged women. When the housewives of Surrey first started pitching up at a new boutique in Selfridges, paying for the label of their favourite French wine to be reproduced on their skin, the Tattoo Club of Great Britain promised the "beginning of the end". That was five years ago and saying the tattoo is "socially acceptable" doesn't quite cover it - you've probably got more friends who have a tattooist than have a dentist.
Unlike a half-hour date with your molars, however, most tattoos don't seem to have a point. Whereas you can buy a three-volume encyclopaedia on Russian prisoner tattoos and there are whole indexes on the meaning of sailor designs, most people don't tend to get tattoos to help them survive life on a penal colony or express solidarity with their fellow seadogs, but for spurious and slightly nutty reasons - especially as many of the designs would look better on a pirate. Most of the Vogue article is filled with the author regretting all the tattoos she's had already, before rounding off the piece by promising to get a new and better one to cover "the inside of my forearm, from wrist to elbow". This after she's delved into the experience of singer Alice Temple, who has a skull across her entire back ("It was 15 hours of intense, horrifying pain. Across my spine. And kidneys. For 15 hours.") And that of artist Rachel Feinstein who now "regrets" her tattoo of "a vagina in her armpit with ants emerging out of it killing a dragonfly on her shoulder".
Knowing better than to get a tattoo takes accepting that you are sometimes, perhaps frequently, an idiot. It's bad enough when your idiocy can be pulled up on Google. Do you really need to turn one of your armpits into the secret sexual fantasy of the Orkin Man?
Or, in this girl's case, is it possible she was just trying to shock her mother?