If there is a common trait differentiating senior citizens (and those about to be) from younger Utahns, it could be the tattoo. As a Washington Post article recently noted, tattoos have “gone from being a sign of rebellion to acceptance by the masses.”
If you hang around men and women under the age of 50, it is increasingly difficult to spot someone who hasn’t inked themselves. I saw this first-hand last week while participating in a 5k run; finding a young person without a tattoo was harder than finding an Elder’s Quorum president at a gay right’s rally.
This is a relatively new phenomenon. When I was in my 20s, the only men with tattoos were aging pot-bellied sailors who drank two too many tequilas while on shore leave. No one planned to have a tattoo – they just woke up and discovered they had one. Women were even less likely to have a tattoo. If you saw such a female, she was probably a witch.
Not surprisingly, I never got a tattoo. There were numerous good reasons. One, they are costly. If I found a couple extra hundred dollar bills under my sofa cushions, the last thing I’d do is look in the phone book for a skin artist. Secondly, they hurt. My blood pressure rises when I see a doctor coming at me with a needle, so why would I feel differently when a tattoo artist holds one?
And there’s a third reason. What would I ink on my body? A girlfriend’s name? (Obviously, a bad idea.) A hero? (When I was 18 my hero was Perry Mason. How would that translate now?) Something more dainty like a small butterfly or porpoise? (Imagine your reception when you walked into a biker bar!) A quote or an inscription? (After three decades of fading and skin wrinkling, that scrunched up quote would read more like an Egyptian hieroglyphic or a bad rash.)
The newspaper article explained the rationale for a tattoo along with an interesting trend. Tattoos, according to the Post, signify social identity, “a membership token which gives access to a group and a sense of legacy.” And more and more people, it claimed, are now having tattoos of retail brands marked on their skin. “When a brand is inked under the skin it signifies a consumer’s commitment to the brand’s supposed lifestyle.”
Okay, so a Harley Davidson tattoo gives you credibility as one of “the tribe”. But a Dunkin’ Donut tattoo would only cause people to laugh at you...and paying to have a Pabst Blue Ribbon logo on your shoulder only shows that you have an attachment to a “community” of cheap drunks!
Interestingly, the Post article said a person might tattoo themselves with a luxury brand they really can’t afford. Boy, that makes lots of sense. I can’t afford a Lexus, so I will waste $400 having the automaker’s logo tattooed above my navel to show I’m classy?
Granted, I don’t understand the whole tattoo frenzy. Several years ago, a man had Mitt Romney’s face inked on his body.
Even if the man’s politics haven’t changed, I suspect he regrets it now.
In fact, I think a whole lot of people are looking at their tattoos and wondering why.