You guys are probably getting sick of me recording the exploits of the Daily Fail. Those of you who don't live in the UK probably wonder what on earth our journalists get paid for. Please rest assured, there are newspapers in the UK that devote (some of) their time to actual news instead of making snarky jokes about 'gloomy Goths', calling emo a 'cult' and whining about women with tattoos. But I read the Mail, because let's face it, if I didn't, I wouldn't pick up on so many things to blog about.
Following all the hoo-ha about the tattooed ladies at Ascot, the Mail came up with a 'wonderful' plan, whereby they had a tattooist paint a false sleeve on one of their conventionally middle-class writers and sent her out to mingle with the public (heheh... I typed 'pubic'. Sorry. My sense of humour? NOT classy >.<), with the charming (read: hugely irritating) headline 'Can you ever feel classy as a painted lady?' (In a word: yes.)
In usual fashion, Beth Hale makes the standard remarks about 'defacing your body' and how tattoos are more associated with 'muscle-bound dockers and football fans'.
Now, I'll admit it, I'm a tattoo snob. I - personally - feel there's a world of difference between a wonky dolphin that seemed like a good idea at the time on a drunken holiday in the Maldives, or in fact any tattoo that was ill-chosen, overdone, slapped on by an amateur and poorly maintained, particularly if it's been baked in the sun until it becomes smudgy around the edges, and a carefully-designed one-of-a-kind piece of personal artwork drawn with care by a talented artist and well-looked-after. Part of the reason I get so annoyed with articles like these is that they generally fail to make the distinction between the high street tartlet with her ex-boyfriend's name scrawled across the top of her arse (sorry) and those who put months into choosing or creating their design and who pay the extra cash and spend the extra time to find an artist who makes their design look beautiful.
I strongly feel that the designs that, for example, most of us alternative types (ladies AND gentlemen) generally choose - no matter how simple or intricate - are not generally the same kind of thing you'd find on the permatanned bicep of a football hooligan. Excuse me for generalising, but even if it is a similar sort of idea (for example a tribal design) it's more likely to have been custom-designed, with attention to what it might actually mean, and taken good care of.
I don't feel that I would get on with Beth Hale, frankly. As if to make sure that we get the point following the 'defacement' remark, she adds, "I wouldn't dream of scarring my skin," and experiences 'panic' at the name of the tattoo studio she visits (Extreme Needle). However, unlike some journalists recently reporting on tattoos she does appreciate the talent of the artist, saying, "My tattoos are indisputably intricate and pretty works of art. It’s just that I like my art in more traditional forms."
The comments I find most needling (pun intended) in this piece seem to have more to do with the writer's own nature than the tattoos themselves. For example, "On to the Tube, I see horror on the faces of my fellow travellers. I sit next to one, who moves to another seat at the first available opportunity. An older woman sits in the corner, lips pursed, hugging her handbag close to her chest. Clearly the tattoos make me look like a thief."
Believe me, Beth, most travellers on the Tube (the London Underground train) have seen far more bizarre sights and modes of dress than a lady with an armful of tattoos. And sitting on the Tube is like sitting on the bus - you don't sit next to someone unless you have to, and as soon as a free seat is available, you take it. It rarely has anything to do with the person sitting next to you and I can't tell if Beth is aware of this and is trying to exaggerate her experiences for effect, or if she feels so uncomfortable with her faux tattoos that she's taking a perfectly normal action as a personal rebuff. As for the lady holding her handbag close, this is just something that people do on public transport. I do it, for heaven's sake.
I was remarkably annoyed by the comment, "Clearly the tattoos make me look like a thief." Hint: even if a thief was tattooed, wouldn't they cover their most distinguishing marks when committing their crimes so as to avoid identification? I'd think that a large koi carp swimming up one's arm would be a fairly simple way to pinpoint a suspect. Common sense, please, Ms. Hale. (I'm not going to get into how offensive I find that "Clearly!" because it would be a little petty.)
Ms. Hale also notes while shopping that 'Harrods is no place for a tattooed young rebel like me'. This sounds to me like a confidence issue, i.e. why tattoos aren't for everyone. She feels less 'classy' with the body art, and does herself down accordingly. Whereas most of us with permanent tattoos don't allow our adornments to change our perception of how 'classy' we may be, and would damn well sweep into Harrods and buy diamonds if we wanted to.
I did enjoy the way the writer notes reactions from other women towards her 'tattoos'; working in a customer-facing role this is something I can relate to, although I only have a reasonably small piece on my shoulder. She also states, "I realise that I am indeed walking with a swing in my step. Something quite odd has happened. My tattoos have become like an armour — a day of stares, murmured disgust and blatant admiration has forced me to grow a second skin," which I think may hold true for those of us not just with tattoos but with an alternative appearance in general.
The last note I have to make is regarding Beth's question, "Does no one care about how awful their body art will look as their skin shrivels?" Actually, no, not really. In fact, I think I have an image saved to my computer that will explain this more eloquently than I can: