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When Will This Fad End?

 

This topic has been bouncing around my head for a while, but I’ve never gotten around to writing it. Someone on Ricochet will mention something, Jay Nordlinger months ago on a podcast complained about tattoos or a user whose name I forget recently said he was up for a good tattoo rant. Other times I see someone and think why?

I noticed markings on Dana Loesch’s arm in a Parkland CNN screenshot or a cross on a pastor’s back at a church swim party. Tattoos seem to be everywhere and there is no demographic that is exempt. This will come across as a get-off-my-lawn rant, but here we go.

I guess I’m a Generation X person. I still remember that about the only people who had tattoos were military veterans or criminals and they might only have one or two, no sleeves or multiple ones covering a lot of the body. Others might have had them, but they were in a private location. Maybe it was just where I grew up.

Some point along the way, tattoos became more mainstream. In the ’90s a lot of girls were getting lower back tattoos, but they were derided as “tramp stamps”. Then it seemed as though they exploded on the scene and everyone had one. Yes it’s me, but I have yet to see a tattoo that improves a woman’s appearance. As G. Gordon Liddy used to say, putting a tattoo on a woman is like putting a bumper sticker on a BMW. I will be glad when I don’t see ink everywhere I look.

Maybe things are changing. I saw this on Twitter. I don’t know what drove it, but we might be on the downward side of the trend. I can hope.

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There are 279 comments.

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  1. Coolidge

    I have no tattoos. I think the thing about tattoos is, a few of them are incredibly cool, but most of them turn out not to be; I once met a guy who worked as a contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan. He had numbers tattooed in the base of his skull; it was awesome. Angelina Jolie’s tattoo on her arm having something to do with her children are also very cool. But most tattoos just don’t work out well, especially over the long term. Which, along with the fact that I hate needles, is why I will never get one :)

    • #1
    • June 11, 2018 at 8:08 pm
    • 14 likes
  2. Member

    I’m with you, Bish: It’s an awful fad that came out of nowhere. I thought it would die out within a few years, but unfortunately, it lingers. Hell, it thrives. There are some early signs of hope that it’s finally becoming unhip, but I’ve seen false dawns in the death of other senseless fads before. I’m also baffled why women would want ugly nail polish, but at least that comes off.

    The first generation who got tattoos (other than sailors and Skid Row types) must now be approaching their mid-to-late forties. I don’t mean to be unkind–I’m 66, so I can be fearlessly ageist–but people in their teens and twenties are soon going to be confronted with paparazzi photos of aging stars of both sexes with unavoidably sagging skin and growing midsections. The tat that looked oh-so-sexy on a twenty year old may not look so great stretched out on Berta the housekeeper.

    • #2
    • June 11, 2018 at 8:13 pm
    • 30 likes
  3. Member

    I guess my feelings are a little mixed on tattoos. There are some tattoos that I see and admire (example: Craig Ferguson’s tattoo of Benjamin Franklin’s 13 colonies-snake cartoon). But I’m also one of those prudes who believe God doesn’t want us to tattoo our bodies, and seeing the prevalence of tattoos around strikes me as a sign of decline in our culture (especially the full sleeves, neck, and face tattoos).

    I saw a stand-up once remark something along the lines of “My generation has ruined tattoos. I see a millennial with a tattoo, and I’m not intimidated at all. But when you see a 70-year old with a tattoo, you know not to mess with that guy- that guy has seen death!”

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    The tat that looked oh-so-sexy on a twenty year old may not look so great stretched out on Berta the housekeeper.

    While I agree with this sentiment, I do think Craig Ferguson had a pretty good line about this: “When people say, ‘Yeah, but how’s that tat gonna look when you’re 70, I say, ‘Like s**t, just like the rest of me.'”

     

    • #3
    • June 11, 2018 at 8:57 pm
    • 25 likes
  4. Member

    Knotwise the Poet (View Comment):

    I guess my feelings are a little mixed on tattoos. There are some tattoos that I see and admire (example: Craig Ferguson’s tattoo of Benjamin Franklin’s 13 colonies-snake cartoon). But I’m also one of those prudes who believe God doesn’t want us to tattoo our bodies, and seeing the prevalence of tattoos around strikes me as a sign of decline in our culture (especially the full sleeves, neck, and face tattoos).

    I saw a stand-up once remark something along the lines of “My generation has ruined tattoos. I see a millennial with a tattoo, and I’m not intimidated at all. But when you see a 70-year old with a tattoo, you know not to mess with that guy- that guy has seen death!”

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    The tat that looked oh-so-sexy on a twenty year old may not look so great stretched out on Berta the housekeeper.

    While I agree with this sentiment, I do think Craig Ferguson had a pretty good line about this: “When people say, ‘Yeah, but how’s that tat gonna look when you’re 70, I say, ‘Like s**t, just like the rest of me.’”

    True–but there are big differences. In 1990, if a I saw a hollow-chested, thin armed old man with a withered tattoo that said “Tarawa” or “Anzio”, it was impressive, no question about it. In 2020-25, as younger people behold a hollow-chested, thin armed old man with a withered tattoo that says, “Linkin Park!! It Rocks and You Suck!!”, it’s unlikely to bring out the same sense of respect. 

    • #4
    • June 11, 2018 at 9:07 pm
    • 37 likes
  5. Member

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Knotwise the Poet (View Comment):

    I guess my feelings are a little mixed on tattoos. There are some tattoos that I see and admire (example: Craig Ferguson’s tattoo of Benjamin Franklin’s 13 colonies-snake cartoon). But I’m also one of those prudes who believe God doesn’t want us to tattoo our bodies, and seeing the prevalence of tattoos around strikes me as a sign of decline in our culture (especially the full sleeves, neck, and face tattoos).

    I saw a stand-up once remark something along the lines of “My generation has ruined tattoos. I see a millennial with a tattoo, and I’m not intimidated at all. But when you see a 70-year old with a tattoo, you know not to mess with that guy- that guy has seen death!”

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    The tat that looked oh-so-sexy on a twenty year old may not look so great stretched out on Berta the housekeeper.

    While I agree with this sentiment, I do think Craig Ferguson had a pretty good line about this: “When people say, ‘Yeah, but how’s that tat gonna look when you’re 70, I say, ‘Like s**t, just like the rest of me.’”

    True–but there are big differences. In 1990, if a I saw a hollow-chested, thin armed old man with a withered tattoo that said “Tarawa” or “Anzio”, it was impressive, no question about it. In 2020-25, as younger people behold a hollow-chested, thin armed old man with a withered tattoo that says, “Linkin Park!! It Rocks and You Suck!!”, it’s unlikely to bring out the same sense of respect.

    All of this. Plus, they fade over time. Designs that some might think look great on young, smooth skin aren’t going to look so great decades later. Where can I get in on an early investment in a chain of tat-removal clinics? ;-)

    • #5
    • June 11, 2018 at 9:27 pm
    • 15 likes
  6. Member

    Military tattoos are generally OK with me, as they signify a special brotherhood. But that’s it. Tattoos on women are especially unappealing, as to me it’s like graffiti on a lovely building. On non-military guys it just looks adolescent. Most of all, whether male or female, it advertises to me that the person follows fads and is simply a sheep. 

    It might also be a sign of cultural decay: The historian Paul Johnson states that primitive cultures decorate themselves, advanced cultures “decorate” outwardly, with art, music, etc.

     

     

    • #6
    • June 11, 2018 at 9:29 pm
    • 32 likes
  7. Moderator

    Painter Jean (View Comment):
    It might also be a sign of cultural decay: The historian Paul Johnson states that primitive cultures decorate themselves, advanced cultures “decorate” outwardly, with art, music, etc.

    Eh, I think the relationship is that a focus on self-decoration is part of living for today, and thus an indication of a stagnant or even declining culture. Cultures that thrive do so by focusing on the future, and if you are future focused, it doesn’t make sense to spend large amounts of one’s income on something as transitory as self-decoration. It’s not like everyone in the thriving culture of the 1800s was focusing on art and music, after all. But they were generally focused on building things that would last beyond their own lifetimes, whether it was their families, their homesteads, their cities, and for those who could afford the luxury, the “outward decorations” of high art.

    The person who spends their money and time getting tatted up isn’t spending that money on their children if they have any, or on sponsoring civic improvement, or some other thing that will leave a legacy. It’s an act that proclaims oneself as the center of one’s focus. That being said, I wonder if a less stagnant economy might help reverse this trend. If more people feel a genuine hope for improvements to and even legacies for their lives instead of “might as well enjoy what little I’ve got for as long as I’ve got it” fatalism, money spent on tats and other body modifications might go to more societally productive purposes.

    • #7
    • June 11, 2018 at 9:47 pm
    • 18 likes
  8. Member

    And what’s with the weird nail polish? Why, when I was a boy…well, let’s not go back that far. Women of the Forties and Fifties wore red nail polish, but the women of my boomer generation generally didn’t, at least when they were young. The Gen X gang of the Eighties and Nineties revived the Revlon era. But almost always, at least, it was body-colored on a realistic spectrum from white to red (Black women sometimes favored silver nail polish). 

    I realize that not everything has to harmonize, and sometimes some provocative extreme contrast has its uses. Still, as recently as “Superman II” in 1981, black nail polish was the exclusive reserve of “Ursa, whose perversions threaten the very youth of Krypton”. 

    I was still young enough then that most of my friends responded, “Damn, in ‘Superman III’ let’s see some of that”. 

    • #8
    • June 11, 2018 at 10:32 pm
    • 11 likes
  9. Lincoln

    It was a lot easier a half-century ago to annoy your parents or make a statement about declaring your independence from mainstream society — grow your hair long and wear old beaten-up clothes. Boom, you’re edgy, and you’ve managed to annoy your parents and/or your teachers and/or anyone else that was part of mainstream society who didn’t see some way of pandering to the alternative lifestyle types in order to eventually either sell them something or harness them as a group for political needs. But if someone wanted to drop back into society, it was just a matter of better clothes and a haircut (and in some cases, more regular bathing).

    Kids 20-30 years down the line didn’t have such easily reversible options. Ripped clothes and long hair weren’t going to irk mom and dad or their teachers, because they had either done it themselves or grown up around it. So the result was to push the envelope to tattoos, followed by ear studs, eyebrow studs, cheek studs, tongue studs, earlobe hoops, nipple rings, and even some other body parts really unsuited for metal piercings. All designed to catch older people’s attention and make a statement. I don’t think the fad for those is waning any time soon, but the leading edge of the first generation of tattoo obsessives are closing in on the big 4-0, and even if they are still happy with what they did with their permanent markings, millennials 20 years younger might be looking at some of those aging people and their aging tattoos and deciding if they have them, you’re not really making a statement about being edgy or independent if you get some yourself.

    • #9
    • June 11, 2018 at 10:32 pm
    • 12 likes
  10. Podcaster

    Because too few of them actually have a living link to the days when men, woman and children were getting tattoos involuntarily. Which is also why the “Trump is a fascist” thing works. 

    I knew people in my community that sported those markings. They were the parents and the the grandparents of friends, who by luck or the grace of God survived the camps. 

    Ignorance is a hell of a drug.

    • #10
    • June 11, 2018 at 10:50 pm
    • 40 likes
  11. Member

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Because too few of them actually have a living link to the days when men, woman and children were getting tattoos involuntarily. Which is also why the “Trump is a fascist” thing works.

    I knew people in my community that sported those markings. They were the parents and the the grandparents of friends, who by luck or the grace of God survived the camps.

    Ignorance is a hell of a drug.

    I wonder. Do the descendants of camp survivors print the tattoo? 

    • #11
    • June 12, 2018 at 12:20 am
    • 1 like
  12. Contributor

     

    My problem with tattoos is that they’re so permanent. I can’t think of anything I’d want on my body like that forever.

     

    • #12
    • June 12, 2018 at 3:23 am
    • 23 likes
  13. Member

     A cousin visiting us some 40 years ago, seeing a man with tattoos up his arms asked my 11 year old daughter what those were, she said, That, “Ernesto is a symbol of stupidity.” Now it’s about following peer fads. In the post war world tattoos meant one had served in the Pacific and got really drunk in the Philippines. Two noble things worth symbolizing.

    • #13
    • June 12, 2018 at 3:25 am
    • 4 likes
  14. Contributor

    Wrt the fad ending … I don’t know if it will. It’s passed the line into social respectability. People used to get tattoos where they could be covered up by ordinary clothing. Business dress would cover up people’s tattoos. That’s changed. Now you can walk into a law firm and the receptionist will have a hand tattoo or neck tattoo that is visible.

    I don’t think we’ve reached peak tattoo yet because the lawyers don’t have hand or neck tattoos. When that becomes common, add 10 years, and then we’re at peak tattoo.

    I don’t know if it’ll reverse itself either.

    • #14
    • June 12, 2018 at 3:27 am
    • 8 likes
  15. Thatcher

    Fred Cole (View Comment):

     

    My problem with tattoos is that they’re so permanent. I can’t think of anything I’d want on my body like that forever.

     

    The late, great Drake Sather:

    “I can see getting married, buying a house, having children. But a tattoo, it’s so . . . . permanent.”

    • #15
    • June 12, 2018 at 3:55 am
    • 19 likes
  16. Thatcher

    Amy Schley (View Comment):
    Eh, I think the relationship is that a focus on self-decoration is part of living for today, and thus an indication of a stagnant or even declining culture.

    Amy Schley (View Comment):
    The person who spends their money and time getting tatted up isn’t spending that money on their children if they have any, or on sponsoring civic improvement, or some other thing that will leave a legacy.

    I’m not sure how much tattoos cost. But part of this is an indication of more disposable income. Most bearers of tattoos got them when they were young. Self-decoration is a part of being young.

    What we’re arguing about here is a matter of degree. Some self-decoration is a part of human nature.

    • #16
    • June 12, 2018 at 3:56 am
    • 4 likes
  17. Thatcher

    JudithannCampbell (View Comment):
    Which, along with the fact that I hate needles, is why I will never get one :)

    You’re saying this partly in jest. But don’t underestimate the degree that attraction to the needle is what motivates people to get massive tattoos.

    • #17
    • June 12, 2018 at 3:58 am
    • 4 likes
  18. Contributor

    Al Sparks (View Comment):

    I’m not sure how much tattoos cost. But part of this is an indication of more disposable income. Most bearers of tattoos got them when they were young. Self-decoration is a part of being young.

    That used to be the case. Not so much anymore. Middle aged ppl who should know better now regularly get tattoos. 

    • #18
    • June 12, 2018 at 4:08 am
    • 7 likes
  19. Thatcher

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    And what’s with the weird nail polish?

    Well, really it’s not nail polish. They’re nail pasties. They’re very easy (and cheap?) to apply, which is why you see so much of it. It’s perhaps at the cost of nail health. Occasionally I’ll spot a woman with natural nails that look pretty icky. I can tell that they normally have pasties on.

    Often I see someone with modest monochrome “nails” that are actually pasties. It makes their nails look a little longer.

    And now they’re concentrating some on their feet. Pedicures are more common and include these same type of pasties for their toe nails.

    I downgrade my perception of a woman’s appearance when I see that.

    • #19
    • June 12, 2018 at 4:12 am
    • 1 like
  20. Member

    Fred Cole (View Comment):
    I don’t think we’ve reached peak tattoo yet because the lawyers don’t have hand or neck tattoos. When that becomes common, add 10 years, and then we’re at peak tattoo.

    I don’t think the people with neck tattoos want a lawyer or accountant with a neck tattoo.

    • #20
    • June 12, 2018 at 4:20 am
    • 8 likes
  21. Contributor

    Guruforhire (View Comment):

    Fred Cole (View Comment):
    I don’t think we’ve reached peak tattoo yet because the lawyers don’t have hand or neck tattoos. When that becomes common, add 10 years, and then we’re at peak tattoo.

    I don’t think the people with neck tattoos want a lawyer or accountant with a neck tattoo.

    I think it’s just a thing that’ll creep in. 

    • #21
    • June 12, 2018 at 4:29 am
    • 1 like
  22. Member

    Wow the navel gazing in this post.

    This is done to freak us out! We did this. In our day! Blah blah me me me blah. More things change the more the stay the same.

    Its fashion people, men once wore high heels and powdered wigs. Now they don’t, well most of the time… And yet civilization didn’t fall.

    • #22
    • June 12, 2018 at 4:44 am
    • 8 likes
  23. Member

    Small and discrete graphics are one thing. But now I see women all over the place who have sentences and paragraphs of text tat’ed all over their upper arms and shoulders. I don’t get it.

     

    • #23
    • June 12, 2018 at 4:52 am
    • 5 likes
  24. Member

    Fred Cole (View Comment):

     

    My problem with tattoos is that they’re so permanent. I can’t think of anything I’d want on my body like that forever.

     

    Speaking of permanent, that’s got me thinking – perhaps I can tattoo ‘hair’ on my bald spot.

    • #24
    • June 12, 2018 at 5:05 am
    • 10 likes
  25. Member

    The fad will end when 55 year old out of shape Republican white guys start sporting them. If a coupl’a hundred of us would take one for the team, get some ink and start wearing our pants around our upper thighs both these things would end in a matter of days.

    • #25
    • June 12, 2018 at 5:11 am
    • 29 likes
  26. Contributor

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Small and discrete graphics are one thing. But now I see women all over the place who have sentences and paragraphs of text tat’ed all over their upper arms and shoulders. I don’t get it.

     

    I saw one at the waterpark over the weekend that had an entire verse from Proverbs tattooed on her side.

    Irony knows no bounds…

    • #26
    • June 12, 2018 at 5:13 am
    • 7 likes
  27. Member

    Al Sparks (View Comment):
    But don’t underestimate the degree that attraction to the needle is what motivates people to get massive tattoos.

    A beautiful woman I know who is in her early 20s has so many tatoos…a sleeve with her Aunt’s name and tropical flowers, something on the leg with black skulls, chinese characters down her back, lots of smaller ones. She posts photos of the process with #addicted and #hurtssogood. I agree with Michael Medved, tattoos are what people in primitive cultures do. This young woman had a very difficult childhood and, while very talented and occasionally hard working, has trouble holding a job. She hasn’t gotten a new one in a while…no money. I think people with so much ink have some psychological issues.

    • #27
    • June 12, 2018 at 5:44 am
    • 10 likes
  28. Member

    Fred Cole (View Comment):

     

    My problem with tattoos is that they’re so permanent. I can’t think of anything I’d want on my body like that forever.

     

    There are some nice temporary tattoos out there. Inkbox 

    It avoids this problem….

    “Would a candidate having tattoos affect your decision to hire that person?”

    Yes. I would be less likely to hire them. 13.85%

    Yes. I would be more likely to hire them 0.31%

    No. It would not affect my decision. 22.77%

    It would depend on the role I was trying to fill. 35.08%

    It would depend on how many tattoos and where they were. 28.00%

    This means that a total 77% of employers will or might be less likely to hire you if you have tattoos.

     

    • #28
    • June 12, 2018 at 5:48 am
    • 28 likes
  29. Member

    Some look really nice, most are stupid. I can’t resist laughing at 40-year-old white dudes with tribal tattoos or guys with no upper body strength with barbed wire tats where their bicep should be (maybe it used to be there?).

    I love Brian Regan’s bit about it. He wants to get a tattoo of a blender on his back. He envisions going to the beach and having thousands of people crowding him asking him “Is that a…………………blender!!!!”

    PS. The Ted Cruz tattoo poster was friggin’ awesome though.

    • #29
    • June 12, 2018 at 5:56 am
    • 11 likes
  30. Member

    If I was to have a tattoo God would had seen to it I was born with one. I am going to go out the way I came in.

    • #30
    • June 12, 2018 at 5:57 am
    • 5 likes
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