By Mollie Shafer-Schweig
What do a soaring eagle, a bouquet of roses, and a bicycle wheel all have in common? To answer this question, one can turn on his or her and computer and check out fuckyeahtattoos.tumblr.com because in this day and age, a common blog must hold the images of more than 1200 pages of publicly submitted tattoos.
While I sympathize with those that find it necessary to capture a loved one’s death in black and gray pinups or commemorate a hometown with the ever so common state outline, I was told as a child that tattoos were off limits to “Jews like me.”
I guess what my mother meant by “Jews like me” was really just equivalent to “children that are not too keen on disobeying their parents,” but until college, tattoos on other people, and especially on Jews, were disrespectful to all that had suffered during the holocaust. (It’s still a taboo for Jews to get tattooed, as some Jewish cemeteries will not bury people with tattoos. Leviticus 19:28 states, “You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead nor incise any marks on yourself: I am the Lord.”)
Perhaps my becoming a young adult changed my opinion on the subject, or maybe it was because I chose to attend an art school (where arguably the highest tattoo-bearing population goes to college), but I no longer perceive one’s choice to permanently reflect an image on skin to be an issue of disrespect (rebellion maybe, but that varies from case to case, of course). Still, I’m not in any rush to capture the essence of my dearly deceased hamster, LaFawnduh in the form of painfully pricked skin.
Honestly, I’m more interested in the story that comes with a tattoo, than in the actual image, and if one more person tells me that the meaning of their kanji tattoo (you know, the Chinese characters) truly captures the essence of his or her spirit, I may actually have to ban all Asian characters from being tattooed on anyone with no clear association to the country being called into question (if only I had that power).
In all seriousness, while I do believe that some tattoos are tasteless and most likely a waste of pain and money, I’m not sure why some people have a big problem with even the mere existence of a tattoo. Unless scrawled across someone’s forehead is the term, “fuck you” one’s choice to get a tattoo is nothing more than a form of expression, just as wearing clothes has become.
Common trends tell us that unless you truly have some divine purpose to do so, do not get any of the following tattoos: a dragon, an angel, a state outline, day of the dead girl-skull, and any cat-classified animal. The list goes on and on. In today’s age, a tattoo is only as cool as its originality.
Not having any tattoos myself, I have a great appreciation for those who have the courage to go through the pain of something they may regret having in twenty to thirty years, because let’s face it, my grandmother just wouldn’t be the cutest thing she is today if the word “love” was tattooed across her chest.
I believe the discussion between proponents and adversaries of tattooing and the tattoo culture is pretty futile considering there are much more important issues to argue. But you never know—a tribute sleeve to LaFawnduh may just be what the doctor ordered.