Monday, April 6, 2009

The Illustrated Man

So, I got into a little argy bargy with my cousin last week. She had posted some pictures of her tummy on FaceBook because she is tracking her 3 month old pregnancy in pictures month by month. She is 18 and has only been married a few months but they are already expecting their first child. I was appalled to discover that she has gotten two tattoos just below her stomach of two birds. I was a little shocked and I said so which she did not appreciate. I was told that I was being "judgmental" and it was a trivial matter, etc. I shot back that I was just being honest with her when I told her I didn't really approve and that I was shocked that she would get a tattoo.

Now, this may sound old fashioned and I imagine I will take flak from others because of how I feel about tattooing but I am okay with that. I am still entitled to my opinion as she is to hers. I have had a long fascination with tattoos and tattooing. I personally know a man that has gecko tattoo that he is ashamed to have now. I also knew an older man that had been tattooed when he was younger and when he got to be older, the tattoo was just a blurred outline on his skin and you could barely tell what it was supposed to be. Add to it that he had grown a thick coat of white hair on his arms and it was downright hideous to see that old tattoo standing out blue and livid but covered with white hair.

Now I come to my point about tattooing. On men, I don't mind tattoos so much but I am still not a big fan of them. No matter what it is and no matter where it is, tatoos look trashy on women. I have several friends that have them: a rose, a tiger, a Tweedy bird. None of their tatoos are that attractive to me but they at least had the sense to have them on their shoulder or their bicep where they won't migrate that much with age. My cousin with bird tattoos on her cute little flat tummy now, will soon have them stretched out of shape by pregnancy and then sag as she ages. I imagine they will be down to her knees by the time she is 80. The girls with the pin striping tattoos on their lower back? Well, in 30 years those tattoos are going to be on the backs of their upper thighs! Every young person that gets a tattoo today should ask themselves seriously: Am I really going to still want this when I am 80?

The picture I used today is the 1952 cover from The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury which is a collection of short stories that all thread together around two men, one of whom is tattooed all over. As they sleep next to each other, the tattoos on the illustrated man move and tell stories to the other man. The final story the man sees is of the illustrated man strangling him to death. It is a fascinating set of stories and another argument for not getting tattooed.

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