I love the internet as most of my longtime readers know. I’m a heavy user, and the amount of information you can find is breathtaking. The downside is that the amount of opinionated and baseless bullshit is also breathtaking. I know I’ve ranted about this before, but I ran across a thinkpiece in The Federalist (I know, I know) that made me roll my eyes so hard, I’m still searching for them somewhere behind my couch. It was a million-word piece about how tattoos are going to be the downfall of America because reasons!
Full disclosure: I have four tattoos. No, I don’t regret getting them. No, I don’t care what they’ll look like when I’m old and droopy. No, it wasn’t a phase, a youthful rebellion, or me trying to be trendy. No, I’m not worried that they’re on my body forever–that’s kind of the point. I got my tats before it was a cool thing to do, so, yeah, I’m a hipster tatted up gal. I was doing it before some of y’all were even born! Get off my lawn, too. Also.
Fuller disclosure: I think this falls under the category of, “If you don’t like them, don’t fucking get one.” No one is forcing you to get a tat (and if they are, you need to think about your life choices as to who you allow in your life), so you can live your life gloriously tattoo-free if you want. YOU DO YOU! Go on with your unadorned self! Be proud of your mark-free skin! No one is stopping you from being great without a tattoo, are they?
Back to The Federalist masturbatory piece. The dude is roughly my age (40) which puts him firmly in wagging his finger at the youngins range. Here’s the thing, though. I skimmed his whole piece (and it went on for fucking ever), and I couldn’t get a coherent reason why he thought tattoos were the Worst Thing On Earth. One of his points is that we have no culture reason for them, unlike, say the Polynesians. He even made a stupid joke about big Polynesian men please not beating him up for dissing on tats. He says it’s fine to get a tattoo if it has meaning to you, but he’s not down with random tats, and you need to know about it.
Now, while I agree that there are many stupid tattoos out there, how does he propose we regulate the appropriate level of depth for tattoos? Maybe that 18-year-old girl I saw getting Elmo tattooed on her ankle had an emotional connection to the furry little bastard (I doubt it, but it’s none of my goddamn business)! Maybe those ‘deep-meaning’ tats aren’t as deep as he thinks they are. I mean, white people are getting kanji/Chinese character tats and don’t even know what they actually say. If we’re going to put an embargo on tats, let’s start with those!
Personally, every one of my tats have meaning to me, though they may not appear so to other people. I’m not going to get into it here because that’s not the point of this post, but how very colonialist of him to say that he gets to deem which tattoos are worthwhile and which aren’t. He goes on to say that he judged a babysitter he had because she had a…Charlie Daniels tat? Something like that. I’m not going to re-read the article to check, and YOU CAN’T MAKE ME. His point is that people will judge you by your tats, which is true. Someone’s tats can tell you a lot about that person, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. If I see someone with swastikas, Hitler, and white power tattooed on him, I’m going to give him a wiiiiiiiiide berth. In fact, I wish all people had such easy markers to see.
Another problem he had with tats was how they’ll look when the people get older. I got this one a lot when I first got my tats. “Aren’t you afraid how they’ll look when you’re eighty?” Well, no. First of all, I don’t plan on living that long. Second, the rest of me is going to fall apart, so why not my tats, too? Third, I consider them an extension of my skin, so whatever happens to my skin will happen to my tats, and I’m fine with that. Fourth, you could say that about many things we do to our bodies, including pregnancy, which takes a massive toll on the body, but that doesn’t stop people from getting pregnant. Note, I am not comparing getting pregnant to getting a tattoo, obviously, but just making the comparison to note how silly this concern is.
Then, he also said something about wanting to get one, but it was too expensive, so he thought maybe a fake tattoo would slake his thirst for a real one. That had me scratching my head because it made the rest of his screed sound like sour grapes. “I can’t afford a tattoo so no one else should get one!” Huh? Tattoos aren’t cheap, but they’re not prohibitively expensive, either. Or rather, they don’t have to be prohibitively expensive. My first one was a hundred bucks. That’s five times going out to dinner (for one person). That’s ten books (nowadays). That’s four movies with all the trimmings (an estimation as I don’t go to movies). That’s one-and-a-half triple A video games. That’s a week’s worth of groceries. That’s not even a plane ticket to most places around the country.
I know not everyone can afford such things, but this dude wrote a million-word thinkpiece for The Federalist. I’m making the assumption that he goes out to eat once a month at the least. My point is that we all spend money on things other people consider frivolous. I don’t spend money on clothes or makeup, but I don’t think people who do are the downfall of America. I’m also not getting paid to write about how much disdain I have for fashionistas, but hey, if someone wants to pay me to write that article, I’d be more than happy to accept the job.
Look. I ain’t even mad that he doesn’t like tats. That’s his prerogative. I just don’t understand why it need to be a longform thinkpiece in The Federalist, especially when it boiled down to, “I don’t like tats (but I do, really, but I don’t, but I do!).” As I mentioned above, one of the downfalls to the internet is that anything can get printed–and often does. I’m as guilty as anyone else; I mean, the basis of this blog is me writing two-thousand words on whatever topic comes to mind. But, I at least try to put some thought into it and look at all the complexities of an issue. It’s very rare I will say, “I think this, so shut up!” Even then, I research the hell out of what I’m writing to make sure I can back up my assertions.
With this ridiculous tattoo piece, I just don’t see the fucking point except for the author to feel smugly superior (and secretly envious) as he looks down his nose on the unwashed (and tatted up) masses below him. If you’re going to say something is a problem as he does with tattoos, then you need to back that up with actual facts. Not just, “Tattoos bad, hurr, hurr, hurr.”
It’s similar to a post I read a few months ago by a mother whose son got tattooed, and she flipped her fucking shit. She wouldn’t talk to him for three days, and she refused to even look at it. She told him the one thing she didn’t want him to do was get a tattoo, so of course when he got one, she felt as if it were a personal affront. Which it might have been, but also, it’s his fucking body. I could understand her being upset and not liking it, but her reaction was way over the top, and I don’t know why she wrote about it. I mean, did she think people would sympathize? Of the dozens of comments I skimmed, only one or two people put up a weak-sauce defense of societal norms and whatnot, but she got blasted–and rightly so. Some of the comments were over the top because, internet!, but most of them rightly pointed out that she was blowing things way out of proportion. She even acknowledged it in the piece, but she couldn’t adequately explain why she felt that way about tattoos.
I couldn’t help feeling as if she wrote the piece to validate her feelings, but it felt better left in her diary. Or in a session with her therapist, which I sincerely hope she has. A therapist, I mean. It’s not something she should have unleashed into the wild like that.
I know I’m going to sound get-off-the-lawn myself, but not every thought needs to be written down and published. You don’t like tattoos? That’s fine. Don’t fucking get one. End of story. You don’t need to expend thousands of words on it or try to justify your dislike. Just don’t get one! Sheesh.
Also, side note: If you are thinking of getting a tattoo, don’t get one at midnight at the only shop still open by the nephew who is still in training with his uncle, the owner of the shop. Trust me, there’s nothing but tears at the end of that road.