My thoughts on tattoos...
Growing up, my mother was my mentor/idol/best friend. She is a highly intelligent, humorous and insightful woman but she can be very narrow minded about societal conventions. This protocol, what people with good breeding do or do not do, should dictate the way every person lives their lives. In her warped mind, there are actually only a few people with this good breeding but this should not discourage the rest of the untouchables to aspire to be like them.
She has many strong opinions about what is and is not "classy." Bowling is low class but so is piano. Girls from good families take ballet, she always said. Naturally she is not at all approving of tattoos. They were for sailors and the uncouth, unwashed masses. Only people of low social standing would ever have a tattoo and if someone from a "good background" had one it would show just how low and vulgar they really were. I never questioned this opinion and adopted it as my own.
Around the time I entered junior high, it was all the rage for celebrities to get tattoos. Since societal trends are influenced by celebrities, tattoos were becoming cool with people of all backgrounds. My mother and I were appalled to hear about people we knew getting tattooed and hoped the trend would cool down. Very few students at my high school had them but it was becoming so common with twenty-somethings and adults that one couldn't leave the house without catching a glimpse of one out of the corner of his eye. By the time I was a few years into college, more than half the people I knew had one. I silently condemned them for stooping so low.
As they became more ubiquitous, I decided to pause and analyze my beliefs. Why did tattoos illicit such a stomach turning reaction in me? Every time I laid eyes on one, I would clearly hear my mother's disapproving voice saying, "only white trash and sailors have tattoos." But the times were changing and what was unacceptable in her day is commonplace today. I made a concerted effort to stop negatively judging the people who have tattoos. People from all backgrounds and all walks of life have tattoos nowadays. Instead, I would scrutinize the tattoo itself. Was the art good? What was it of? Where was it located on the body? What could it possibly mean to the person sporting it?
Back tattoos look good. Breast tattoos distract from the natural attractiveness of the décolletage. Ankle tattoos are played out. Small of the back tattoos are too feminine. I am not sure how I feel about a single arm tattoo but many arm tattoos perhaps in a band or sleeve can be cool. These are just my general opinions on the matter. There certainly can be exceptions to the rule.
Besides these preferences, I pay most attention to what exactly the tattoo is and why the person would have it. What's so important about that drawing that someone would want it permanently displayed on their body? Why is Tweety Bird on your forearm? What are those tribal markings on your spine? What tribe are they from? Do you even know that? What do they mean?
Tattoos don't necessarily mean anything. Some people think long and hard about the tattoo(s) they get. Some people flippantly get tattoos the way you choose what they are having for lunch. Sometimes the tattoo is deeply personal and meaningful and sometimes something is just cool looking.
Of course I don't always agree or think the sentiments are lame but they are not my tattoos so I shouldn't give a shit. I can't shake being very critical when friends of mine get inked. I have this knee-jerk reaction to try and talk all of my friends out of getting them unless my friend already had one to begin with and then I say, "the more the merrier." * Let me justify myself a little bit by telling you that most of my close friends are fickle people who would regret getting a tattoo about a week after getting it. Okay, I also selfishly don't want to look at the inevitably stupid thing every time I see them.
People often ask why I haven't gotten one. I think, "because they mostly look crappy and I don't like anything enough to be permanently imprinted on me." Luckily, getting tattoos goes against the Jewish religion (not counting the forced Holocaust ones). Once I say that, people drop the subject.
I need to lighten up, I know. I'll work on it.
*My friend, Super D, has many tattoos. She is from a good family and is not at all low class. Some of her tats are very meaningful and some are just to look good. She wears them well.