Tattoos and Piercings - Less is more

Body art - like any art - should be skilfully applied and preferably aesthetic but has fashion sowed the seeds of major regret in later life?

In western culture, subtle tattoos have long been acceptable and attractive on females, usually not on public display in normal dress.  More dramatic and obvious tattoos common were always the domain of  males and sex workers. Conversely piercing - confined to the ear lobes - was almost exclusively the domain of women.


To some extent that all changed when more extreme facial piercing became fashionable in the punk rock era, and  - as is often the case with extreme fashion trends - some less extreme part of that practice was adopted by mainstream culture.  Multiple ear-rings and studs became popular and also increasingly common among men.


More extreme tattooing has become very fashionable in recent years, a trend popularised by iconic figures from sport and entertainment and inevitably followed by their fashion hungry admirers.  Tattoos, the like of which had previously only been seen on wrestlers and boxers, were increasingly adopted by athletes, footballers and pop stars - all figures who attracted enough TV coverage and public following to effectively promote the trend.

Undoubtedly the art of tattooing has also moved on too; offering a range of colours and detailed designs that was really deserving of the term "body art".


Alongside the growth of popular tattoos we've seen mere piercing explode into what can only be described as body modification.
Too many young women are now sporting permanent red spots where their now abandoned nose studs used to reside. It seems inevitable that those young women now regret that permanent blemish as a reminder of more headstrong days.  How much more regretful will the present generation feel in years to come at the immense array of piercings, tattoos and in some cases outrageous body modifications that they now consider fashionable?

Simple ear piercings, having escalated from one per ear to a whole chain on each, further escalated to piercings of lip, tongue, nose, eyebrow, forehead, tummy - in fact anywhere it seems that could play host to a needle.

Fashion is – by its very nature – temporary and evolving while tattoos and particularly body modifications are not just for the moment but are yours for the rest of your life!

It’s now common practice to be tattooed with the names of children and that’s not inappropriate as children are, after all, a life-long commitment. Being tattooed with the name of your partner may be romantic but it’s a bigger commitment than marriage and, with divorce rates at an all-time high, that alone should give pause for thought.

Even those smart or philosophical phrases that are so popular now – will they stand the test of time and still feel cool in years to come?


While there are certainly cultures around the world where every extreme of tattooing or body mutilation is common, in those societies the practice is often a “right of passage” to adulthood and higher social or religious standing in the community.

Western society is unlikely to absorb more than the most subtle aspects of the cult and will continue to regard more extreme examples as oddities, misfits and those of lower social standing.

Those trend-setting sports and entertainment icons are sufficiently wealthy and secure that they will never have to apply for jobs, loans or anything that requires social acceptance and is necessary to the lives of their ardent followers.

If you are considering a tattoo then try it first on a balloon - preferably as near matching your skin colour as possible - and inflated to represent the current firmness of your skin at the intended body site.
When you've completed the illustration, leave the balloon exposed to sunlight for the next week or two. Over that period the balloon will naturally deflate and, as it does so, the once elastic latex skin will pucker and deform the original drawing.

This provides a reasonably accurate model of what is likely to happen on your own skin in the coming years!

If, having seen these affects, you are still determined to go ahead then do so and good luck to you - it is your body after all!


But whatever you decide then do remember the wisdom of the saying that “less is more”.

A more conservative commitment now will leave room for further enhancement later if that’s what you really want.

But it also limits the damage you might be inflicting upon yourself and your future as you succumb to the tides of popular, peer or domestic pressure.

There should be legal limits on commercial body mutilation

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