Friday, March 15, 2013

Thoughts on "Ink"

Perhaps I should open this blog with a disclaimer that it is not my intent or my place to criticize, or pass judgement on anyone, merely to express my personal feelings—realizing full well that even as I write the words, they will undoubtedly irritate or offend someone.

I probably should also begin by asking why I can't be more like you? You are far more open-minded and understanding and accepting than I. Things never seem to drive you crazy because you simply cannot, no matter how hard you try, comprehend why people act the way they act, do the things they do, or are the way they are.

I am very—some would argue too—active on Facebook, and spend a lot more time there than I really should, and I am, purely out of intellectual curiosity, of course, drawn to the innumerable postings of beautiful and generally shirtless men there. And I am always struck by the number of them all but covered in hideous (to me) and utterly pointless (to me) tattoos. Despite their incomprehensible-to-me appeal—they apparently all but scream “Sexy!” to an ever-growing number of people. The scream is the equivalent of a dog whistle to me, however. I consider desecrating an otherwise flawless body with what is called by the ultra-cool “ink” to be nothing less than body graffiti. It strikes me as similar to walking up to Michelangelo's David with a can of spray paint.

I would have no objection to people adorning their bodies with artwork for some special occasion, like Native Americans did with warpaint. And warpaint has the advantage of, once washed off, leaving the space it covered readily available for something else the next time the mood strikes. (Perhaps someone could come up with a high-tech version of the press-on tattoos kids wear.)

But to show your undying love for your girlfriend Brunhilda by having her name tattooed in Second-Coming-sized lettering across your chest or back may be something of a problem when you break up with Brunhilda and switch your undying love to somebody named Gertrude. Once a tattoo's there, it's there for life unless you have the time and money to have it professionally removed.

And while a sleek black panther making blood-red claw marks on a 20-something's bulging bicep may be be hot as all hell today, the charm and appeal to others probably will lessen when the 20-something is 70-something.

Prisoners in American jails seem, for reasons completely incomprehensible to me, to choose to deliberately ruin any chance they may have otherwise had to easily fit into the mainstream of society upon their release by covering every square inch of skin—arms, backs, hands, knuckles, legs, necks, even faces—in garish scrawls an squiggles and illustrations.

Being gay, I know nothing of what makes a woman sexy. But I do know that, even were I straight, to see an otherwise attractive young woman covered in tattoos I doubt I would think, “Wow! Now there's a girl I'd be proud to take home to meet my folks!”

I know, I know, I myself am so far out of the mainstream that I could never possibly find my way back to it, and my opinions are worth one-half of a diddly-squat to anyone else. I apologize to those of you reading this (if you've not already quit in outrage, vowing never to read another word from me) who have tattoos. And I really don't understand why what other people choose to do with their bodies should bother me in the least. But I am, after all, a romantic who dwells in a land of fantasy and beauty; who still, even at this late stage of my life, dreams of a pristine forests and castles and a beautiful Prince Charming. I close my eyes and see him clearly. And he does not have the word “Mom” inside a heart with an arrow through it anywhere on his body.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (


Vastine Bondurant said...

Ah, Dorien.

I am not outraged in the least. And you said THE key word: "to me."

It IS how it feels TO YOU. For one to not like something, fortunately, does not make it less beautiful to another. Doesn't makeit less beautiful at all.

And you are not wrong in the least to feel as you do about body art. It's your own individual taste, and your tastes and loves are what make you uniquely Dorien.

That's the beauty of life.

Kage Alan said...

Some people get ink for the sake of getting and some get it for a reason. I actually have one, but it's high up on my arm where most people can't see it unless I'm not wearing a shirt...and that's rare.

I chose it because it was meaningful to me. I'd watched a film called The Crow and one of the themes (justice and making something wrong right again) really struck me. I was in the process of coming out to myself and I knew a great wrong had to be made right in my life. The design from the cover of the soundtrack has remained a constant reminder to me of where I came from and what I made right.

Ralph HATES it, but he's come to accept it over the years. He figures since I gave up the two earrings for him that I can keep this one.

Simone Anderson said...


No outrage or offense here. I found it interesting and thoughtful. It was written in a way that can inspire thought/communication and not an immediate defensive reaction. The difference in understanding/trying to understand versus statements and accusation of evil/sin/what-have-you.

My ink is personal to me, as it is to everyone who has tattoos. For some it is a way to remember important people/events/milestones in their journey of life, some use it to profess their beliefs and spirituality, for others it is a way to rebel, and still others a matter of survival or fitting in.

Just as there is no wrong definition of beauty - what is beautiful to one isn't to another, there is no wrong view on tattoos or other body art.