Etch a Sketch

When my daughter was about 8 years old, she was fascinated with those temporary tattoos that every kid wants. It is probably every parent’s worst nightmare to have their child tell them that they want a tattoo; however, being the sort of laid-back parent I was when this happened to me I didn’t panic. There were years before my daughter would be legally old enough to get a tattoo and chances are she would grow out of it.

I thought I had done my bit by informing her on the seriousness of getting a tattoo. She could not wake up one morning and decide she didn´t want it, it would be there to stay. Yet none of that seemed to have any effect so I also played the ‘heavy’ and said that if she ever had one she would be leaving home in double quick time.  You can therefore imagine how horrified I was, following a typical mum and teenage argument to be shown this monstrosity on her arm which she had managed to hide for several months since having it done as an 18th birthday present.

Custom Carnage UK

Laura Spencer at Liverpool Tattoo Convention

In the early 1990s, I was part of the age group where it was common to loath tattoos.  I associated the people who had them with criminal gangs, bikers, drug users, dropouts and rock stars.  Yet my daughter wasn´t any of these: (although she did go on to experiment with drugs for a time).  Like many teenagers and college students who have tattoos, she was a high achiever but at the time, all I could visualise was young and stupid.  As you would expect my perception of tattooed women was sexually promiscuous and low class, her perception was she saw it as a way to assert her independence.

Image by Claire Seville

Over the years, my daughter has added to her body art. As a mother, I saw this as a form of self-mutilation but talking to her and others, I no longer think this is the case.  Many young women see tattoos as a way to define themselves.  Their tattoos used to be in hidden areas, such as the hip or lower back but as popularity has increased, so has visibility.  While the images have traditionally remained feminine, these once discrete flowers and hearts are now more prominently displayed on arms, legs and even facially and everyone is now a Painted Lady or a Dragon Warrior

Custom Carnage UK

Image by Claire Seville

Image by Claire Seville

Tattoos can carry a stigma and can provoke discrimination, however following the influence of media and consumer culture; they are getting more popular as the years go by. When influential celebrities sporting their tattoos appeared in shows like Miami Ink, more and more people, of various age groups and social backgrounds, chose to follow their idols’ and enter the tattoo studio and prove that tattoo artist as well as people who get tattoos are not bad just independent.

Custom Carnage UK    

Times have changed and tattoos are no longer the taboo they once were and people who hate them need to get over it. After all 1 in 4 people have a tattoo. It is, therefore, safe to say that tattoos aren’t going to go away. So if your child wants a tattoo no matter what you say, they will get one when they legally can.  It is better as a parent to be involved in this life changing experience than to have them turn a single drunken decision into a lifetime of regret.

Images of tattoos above are all by Dawnii Fantana owner of Painted Lady Tattoo Parlour Birmingham.

Since visiting exhibitions and events such as Custom Carnage UK I have found the people who sport tattoos are open, friendly and despite appearances (sometimes to the contrary), certainly no threat.  These days the ones I dislike most are those who think that a tattoo points towards the downward spiral of our society, when as we all know altering one’s physical appearance is the least significant way to differentiate yourself from others. If they wish to appear “righteous” perhaps they  should just remember the old saying  “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

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2 Responses to Etch a Sketch

  1. Lorna says:

    My niece is married to a tatooist and a very talented one too . He is a brilliant artist and I think people forget how skilful it is . As a result she and he are covered in them. I do agree with you that in our day it was only sailors or “rough” people who had them but as my daughter (who doesn’t have any) says it’s now more an new age thing and it’s just an individual choice . I would never judge anyone on what they want to do with themselves but I just wonder that it’s so permanent would you not get bored with it? I get bored with the colour of the nail polish on my toes! So I would imagine it would be like wearing the same thing every day. I said the same thing to my niece about what happens when you’re old and wrinkled like me ,but she pointed out quite rightly that everyone then will have them when they’re old. I suppose it’s similar to our youth . When did you ever see a pensioner in the 60’s in Jeans!!

  2. ceejayblue says:

    What a coincidence! My 18 year old (very unstreetwise) niece is on holiday in Ibiza with her friend, staying at her friend’s dad’s place, and today has facebooked that she’s had a tattoo! The photo of it on her back shows it as a huge skull and wings (her favourite band’s logo) but there’s no swelling from the needles going in and so I’m sure its a temporary one. However, I would be mortified if its real! She’s always wanted one but getting a tattoo done in a country where you don’t know the reputation of the tattoist is very scary.

    My son has tattoos – all just black ink no colour, but I’m not keen on them. I think that when they are old and wrinkly they will definitely regret them! I think the artists that do them are amazing and I can see that they are an artform but to cover yourself with tattoos, to me looks awful. A strategically placed one that means something to you I can see the point of but full body art, I just think of all that pain and then you cover it up with clothes! LOL!

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