Tattoos are a fashion. Whilst I’m sure many may feel personally insulted by that statement, it would take a blind man not to see that it is true. But allow me to qualify that statement. The act of tattooing itself is nothing new, and as Ötzi recently proved, is probably an older custom than we once assumed. People have been doing it for millennia, and will continue to do so into the future, but there will always be a significant social layer to its existence. The social dimension of tattoos is an important factor in their prevalence and popularity, as a result they become a part of what we can call ‘fashion’. Which is no bad thing—social customs, styles, modes of intercourse, even our language evolves—and the rise of tattoos to their level of prominence today is merely a reflection of a society in natural motion. There may be clashes between old and young generations, between those who dominate society and those who will inherit it, over the acceptability of tattoos, but every generation must go through that process, and in turn the wheel may eventually turn full circle. Tattoos today can make employment in certain instances more difficult, for example, and can bring condescension from that generation which associates inking with particular classes or groups (e.g. the stereotypical trio of bikers, convicts and sailors). But in time those particular stereotypes will fade, those social values will die out, and today’s crop of fashionable, tattoo-sporting youngsters will inherit their place and complain about the next generation’s taste in bad music and disgraceful fashions.
So what exactly do I dislike in this state of affairs?