All visible tattoos deliver the same message: I am not interested in being hired for any position that involves interacting with the public. Tattoos on the neck and face deliver the message in capital letters.
Time was when tattoos were found mainly only among the demimonde of grifters, members of outlaw motorcycle gangs, rough trade, a certain segment of merchant seamen, and other denizens of the dark side.
I tend to take a dim view of tattoos, seeing them as the graffiti of the human body, and as yet another, perhaps minor, ingredient in the Decline of the West. Christians who believe that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit ought to consider whether tattoos deface the temple. But I do not dogmatize on this topic. You can reasonably attack my graffiti analogy, and if you insist that tattoos are beautiful, not ugly, I won't be able to refute you. Or at least I won't be able to persuade you.
If you argue that there is no, or needn't be, a connection between tattoos and cultural decline, you may have a case. You might even be able reasonably to maintain that the bodily temple is sometimes beautified by judicious inking. Leviticus 19:28 forbids the practice, but that text does not settle the matter. I tend to think that fascination with the ugly and grotesque does not ennoble us. The connection between the aesthetic and the moral needs to be explored.
But I celebrate the liberty of the individual and tolerate the tattooer and the tatttoed.
I only advise caution: permanent or semi-permanent modifications of the mortal coil are to be made only after due deliberation. You might want to consider such things as: the signal you're sending, your future employability, and, for the distaff contingent, how ugly that tattoo will look on your calf when you are 45 as opposed to 20 and the ink is cheek-by-jowl with varicose veins and cellulite. Cute baristas in hip huggers with tattoos on their lower backs bending over the espresso machine invite impertinent questions as to how far down the pattern extends. "Does it come up the other side?"
If you are thinking of a career in public relations, a bone through the nose is definitely out, as are facial hardware and a Charley Manson-style swastika tattooed onto the forehead. And if you sport a 'tramp stamp,' keep it covered.
See here for a harsher view.
Addendum. Astute Opponent e-mails:
Something you allude to, but don’t completely address, is the allure of fashion, and its strange nature. Fashion has a lifetime of at most ten years, usually in a way that what once conferred stature and gravitas turns into the ludicrous. Fortunately we can discard clothes, and change our hairstyle. This is more difficult with tattoos.
I.e. it’s not just that the tattoo will look ugly when the ink is ‘cheek-by-jowl with varicose veins and cellulite’. It’s that it will look ugly and ridiculous in itself.
I haven’t seen any theory that neatly explains the transformative power of time over fashion. Those of us who are older and have been through a few cycles of such changes are aware of it, and are somewhat, though not completely, impervious to it. It is philosophically challenging. How can the very same thing turn almost into its exact opposite? Moreover, when you look at what is now most ridiculous about the fashion, it was the very thing which in a bygone era was the most fascinating and important.
Some things do not date, and perhaps that is the essence of great art. I also think writing dates much slower. I mean, you can read Strawson or Moore and you don’t have a strong sense that it was written 50 or 100 years ago. Then you look at pictures of the writers, and they look quite silly in tweeds or glasses or smoking a pipe.
Fascinating questions. Why are people swayed in their sartorial choices by what is clearly ridiculous and non-functional? Ghetto blacks strutting around in baggy cargo shorts hanging half-way off their butts; women prancing in high heels; stout lesbians stomping around in work boots at a poetry reading; Beltway boys in their bow ties. The absurd corsets and bustles of yesteryear. Statement-making and sexual signaling are part of what's going on.
The Opponent seems to be suggesting that tattoos will go out of fashion and come to look ridiculous. I don't know.
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