Are tattoos still taboo?

Once upon a time, tattoos were tough-looking badges of the flesh, proudly worn by rebels. Nowadays, it seems taboo not to have a tattoo. Everyone is getting inked, from die-hard hipsters to ardent churchgoers. 

So-called “straight-edge” people somehow manage to make tattoos look wholesome. Although they’re covered in tats from head to toe, Bible scriptures and religious symbols hardly look edgy. I’ve overheard numerous people say, “I don’t smoke, drink or do drugs, but I have nothing against tattoos.  Wanna see all five of mine?”. Even Jewish people are jumping on the bandwagon, despite the controversial and perhaps misguided notion that tattoos are banned within their religion.

Tattoos are difficult to remove from skin, and they’re becoming just as difficult to remove from pop culture.  Garish T-shirts and hats with Ed Hardy tattoo designs disappear from shelves within days of arrival.  Kat Von D, a tattoo artist from TLC’s show, “Miami Ink,” recently came out with a tattoo-inspired makeup line for Sephora.  The staff of The New York Times recently noticed the increased visibility of tattoos, and the fact that tatoos are becoming increasingly prevalent among the elite. 

Tattoos mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people.  I love tattoos on everyone — except myself.  Unless the tattoo is entirely cliche, like a tribal tattoo around a man’s bicep or a rose on a woman’s ankle, I think it can make someone stand out in a creative and intimate fashion.  Yet while I admire somebody’s tattoo, I can’t help but envision the tattoo-removing (not to mention very painful and expensive) laser they might be seeking once their excitement wears off and the ink does not.

~ by Stephanie Dunn on September 25, 2008.

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