I'm old enough to remember a time when tattoos were uncommon. When I was growing up, tattoos were the strict provenance of rebels, and criminals. If you saw a character on tv or in a movie with a tattoo, you knew that guy was a villain. Only one of my friends' parents had tattoos. There was a crudely rendered Betty Boop on one arm, and a Magic 8-Ball on the other. He was the kind of dad who always wanted to hang out and party with us. He was the kind of dad who, if he offered you a ride home at the end of the evening, you would decline even if the only other option was calling your father at 3 AM and asking for him to come pick you up.
When I was in university in the early 90s, I wanted a tattoo. I wanted to look like a rebel. I wanted to appear edgy and mysterious. I wanted to create the illusion that I had a sordid past. I wore concert tees or flannel shirts, army surplus boots, ethnic jewellery I bought at craft fairs in the Students' Union Building, and high-waisted, pleat-fronted jeans from The Gap. But really I was a Star Trek-loving, anthropology major who lived with her parents. I was anything but counter-culture. Also I was too cheap to get a tattoo.
Twenty years on, I'm glad I didn't get a tattoo. Tattoos no longer differentiate, they homogenize. In 2011, having a tattoo doesn't make you a rebel. It makes you middle class. And mainstream. And old. And unlike jeans with an eight-inch zipper, you can't take off a tattoo, hide it in the back of the closet, and explain that you only got them because Helen Hunt had a pair just like it on Mad About You. And really, who didn't love Helen Hunt in 1992!? She was SASSY! She wore HATS, for FUCK'S SAKE!
That being said, I'm TOTALLY gonna get this for my 40th birthday:
No, I'm not.
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Before getting a tattoo (or marrying or hiring someone with a tattoo) you should check out this Tattoo Location diagram. It's a very useful tool