It’s hot, here in the UK. Not the kinds of temperatures that summer brings in some parts of the world, but I’m still glad that I don’t do a daily commute any more, because the London Underground can be stifling in this heat. I’m counting myself lucky to be enjoying the summer weather from home.
One thing that’s evident in the street is that there’s a lot more skin on show than usual, and with it, many more tattoos. Apparently 20% of Brits now have one or more tattoos, and the number rises to 29% amongst the 16-44 age group. And these seem to range from the beautiful and sometimes witty, to the what-on-earth-were-you-thinking?
When I was little, if you knew someone with a tattoo, it was generally your grandad. My grandad had a couple from his time in the Royal Navy, an anchor and a chain, to which he subsequently added my grandmother’s name (rumour has it that a previous lady-friend’s name was covered up at some point). I remember being fascinated by them when I was a child.
These days, it’s predominantly the young who choose to have tattoos, with as many women having tattoos as men. And tattoos will provoke strong reactions. Some people love them and some people hate them. Some are very proud of their body art, some regret it bitterly and some can’t fathom why anyone would want to set foot in a tattooist’s studio in the first place. It’s undoubtedly a powerful statement to make – most things we do to alter our appearance can be changed with relative ease, but tattoo removal is a long, painful process that isn’t always successful.
David Beckham, who reportedly has 32 tattoos, so could be considered an expert on the subject, is quoted as saying “I don’t regret any of them. They all have a meaning. I think that’s what’s important about tattoos. If they have a meaning you’ll never regret them.”
And that, in a nutshell, is probably why I don’t have a tattoo. I did think at one point that I wanted one for my fortieth birthday, but when it got to it, I couldn’t decide on a design – so I came to the conclusion that anything permanent would be a mistake. If I’d really been serious about the idea, I guess I should have been thinking about choosing a meaning, rather than a design.
And maybe I’m not looking at this the right way. Maybe a tattoo carries with it the understanding that many of the things we do in life are ‘written’ on our bodies somewhere. I have scars which bear witness to surgeries and accidents, a twisted finger, a lump on my knee, a birthmark, laughter lines and frown lines (I prefer to call those ‘concentration lines’)… The list gets longer every year, and each year I get to accept and even love them all a little more. If I’d added a few tattoos along the way, would I still be loving them, or starting to regret them? Or simply accepting that they’re a part of me, in the same way as the events they commemorate are? I’m not sure.
According to one poll, 77% of women think that a man with an unusual tattoo is likely to be more fun. What do you think? And… no since I don’t have any body art of my own to share, I’m not going to ask. But if you want to tell, that’s fine with me 🙂
In ‘Daring to Date Her Ex’, Dr Lucas West has two tattoos. One of them was for his niece – when he adopted her eight years ago, the little girl reminded him that he’d forgotten her birthday the previous year, and so he had the date inked on his arm, as part of his promise that he’d always be there for her in the future. The other reminds him of his lost love, Thea. But their lives have changed so much, that this tattoo now looks as if it was a big mistake.