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Saturday, July 08, 2006

THE ILLUSTRATED LADIES

Tattoo (Tahitian 'tatau 1769) an indelible mark or figure fixed upon the body by insertion of
pigment under the skin.

Summer's here and it's beach time again. With everyone wearing scantier clothing I've been noticing the large number of people who are sporting tattoos. A few years ago it was mostly ankle or upper arm tattoos or small illustrations but it's kind of shocked me this summer to note the number of young women who have their entire arms and upper torsos and legs covered with illustrations. I can't help wondering if they've given any thought to the future. In observing the changes in my own body over the years, the loose flesh, sagging muscles, I can't imagine how hideous these tattoos are going to look in twenty or thirty years.

Twenty or so years ago when tattoos were usually only a guy thing, my beautiful young daughter came home one day with a rose tattoo over her breast. I have to admit it was tastefully done and at least in a location that could be easily covered if necessary. Shortly after though she announced she was getting a second tattoo and that was probably the one time I begged her not to. Of course her retort was "It's my body and I'll do what I like" so she did, and came home with a small unicorn on her upper shoulder. It turned into somewhat of an embarassement though when she was invited to be a bridesmaid at her friend's wedding and realized her tattoos would be visible. She also felt embarassed about having her Grandpa, a Baptist minister, see them. Some time later, a friend's young daughter was remarking over these tattoos and I heard my daughter say "Don't ever get a tattoo, Tay. You'll be sorry because you can't remove them." Sure enough several years after that she had to pay a lot of money to have the unicorn redyed as she was unable to remove it and it had faded into an ugly mess.
Nowdays those little tattoos of hers are pretty insignificant when you see the massive illustrations some of these gals are sporting. Most of them are not attractive, some are black dye and rather ugly and even the coloured illustrations, when they cover the entire arm to the wrist are excessive, in my opinion. I think it's a turn-off even to see men so heavily tattooed.

I recall noting on a trip to Morocco a few years ago, that the married Berber women have a line tattooed down the centre of their face from brow to chin. I suppose women in our culture would think that simple 'mark' to denote 'married' is barbaric. To the Berber women it's probably considered beautiful. In the Arabic and Indian cultures henna markings are fashionable and some of them I've seen on the hands and feet of women are quite gorgeous. But they're not permanent and are usually part of the marriage rites or other ceremonies.

A woman I know went and got a ladybug tattooed on her ankle as a 70th birthday present from her daughter. I thought that was a rather sweet idea, even considered getting the star of Macedonia tattooed on my ankle or shoulder. But somehow this summer, observing all these illustrated women I'm getting turned off the idea of permanently marking myself.

Remember that movie "The Illustrated Man"? Every tattoo on his body told a story of some adventure he'd had in his lifetime. I wonder what significance some of these massive tattooes have for the young women who are sporting them? I wonder, in a few years, if they will regret having them?

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