Monday, June 16, 2014

Rise of the Planet of the Tattooed Pinups

Even when I was a kid, I wanted tattoos. I just got my fifth one on Saturday, and I've got several more in the works.
I'm 27 now, so I grew up in the 90s. While that doesn't seem like that long ago, a lot actually has changed since then. It's not like tattoos were super uncommon back then, but they were still largely the provenance of alternative types, and that's a side of myself that I've always tried to express, even when I was too poor for anything but Kmart style. Even now, when something like 40% of my age group has at least one tattoo, I still feel like they're a marker of individuality, a way to display your personality without having to say a word.
Some people without them (and probably some with them as well) tend to think that people with tattoos are just trying to show the world that they're special snowflakes, just like everyone else. I don't like to think of myself as a type - who does, really? - but I have to admit that I fit pretty neatly into the "retro tattooed pin-up" niche. There are hundreds of girls just in my city who have tattoos, wear vintage, consider themselves creative types, and date guys who are really into record collecting and horn rim glasses. Having visible tattoos used to be a fairly subversive thing, but 20 years from now, when all the tattooed folks my age have teenagers, tattoos (along with flamboyantly bright hair and facial piercings) are probably going to be seen as deeply uncool, the formerly trendy relic of a bygone era.
Of course, tattoos have gone in and out of fashion for more than a century, and even in the "repressed" Victorian era, it wasn't uncommon for a society woman to sport a discreet tattoo or two. It's largely the visibility and public preception of it that's changed. Tattooed women used to be the sort of thing you'd see at a circus; these days, they're on every street, in every office, at every Starbucks. Many, if not most, of the vintage bloggers that I follow are liberally sprinkled with them, if not covered, and sleeve or half-sleeve tattoos are more popular with pin-up models than sleeves on actual articles of clothing.
I used to feel like my tattoos should have a really deep meaning for me, and most of the ones that I have or am considering getting do. However, maybe it's seeing so many other women with tattoos, or maybe I just realized that I like getting them and there are only so many meaningful images I can come up with, but the last couple of pieces that I've gotten were chosen at the spur of the moment, and are interesting, but not all that deep. After seeing the Cross of Lorraine at a WWII museum, I ended up having it put on my bicep later the same day; the sparrow that I just got was a piece of flash, and I mostly got it because it was cute and cheap. I have an appointment to get another one next month, and it's another one that, frankly, I just like.
I wonder if tattoos would be as popular if tattoo removal technology hadn't had some significant advances in the past 10 years. While I have no desire to have my tattoos removed, it is kind of nice knowing that if I ever decided that I just really hated them and had to have them off my body, I could do it.
What are your thoughts on tattoos? I'm sure most of the people reading this have a few (or a lot) - do all of them have a particular meaning for you, or are they purely aesthetic? What made you want them, and do you ever think about getting them removed?
In other news, I created a Facebook page for the blog, and it would make me deeply happy if you like it. I mean, it's great that I've gotten 30 people off of my friends list to like it, but it's also a little depressing that they're the only ones that have, you know? Kind of like if my mom was the only one to comment here or something. Check it out at (Also, if someone knows how I get a badge for Facebook that looks like my IG badge, I will love you forever.)


  1. Thought provoking post, dear Jess, it's odd in a way to stop and think that tattoos might ever be seen as so commonplace they're dull as shag carpeting at the end of the 70s, but it's a future I too could see happening. I remember when facial piercings, for example, were enough to make a stranger stop and stare at that person (with said piercing or piercings) on the street, but now most folks rarely bat an eye (which is good, of course - we should all have the right to look however we want without being judged and/or heckled for it), even in my relatively small, highly senior citizen populated town. It makes one wonder as well, as time goes on, what other taboos and/or alternative forms of self expression will become yesterday's new, so to speak.

    ♥ Jessica

    *PS* Thank you very much for all of your great recent comments before, while I was in Van, and today. I truly enjoy hearing from you on any topic.

    1. I'm also kind of curious about what's next. Will the extreme just keep getting more commonplace, or is it a pendulum that's going to swing the other way? It's kind of hard to predict.
      And thanks. ;) You picked some really great guest bloggers that I hadn't read before. As in most things, you have great taste in guests.

  2. I liked your page. Most of my facebook page likers are still my friends, but at first they all were. And at first my mum was the only one commenting on my blog :) She still does, which makes me happy, but it isn't always just her anymore!

    I imagine that tattoos, like other fashions, will wane for a while, but then they will have had a break and come back to being cool again. It always seems to go like that! (And for the record, I am tattoo-less, and will probably stay that way. I am very fickle, and I don't like pain!)

    1. Thank you for doing that. :D And I hope I didn't sound like I don't appreciate my friends for liking my page - I get all flustered and giddy every time someone mentions to me that they read this - it's just, you know, I'm greedy. :P
      I was actually surprised by how easy it is to deal with the pain. I consider myself a total wimp, but after a second I just go away in my head somewhere and it doesn't seem that bad. They're definitely not for everyone, though.

    2. I am the same. Every time someone comments I think "Yes! Someone is reading!" :P

  3. I can't express how much I love your beginning statement about tattoos and girls in the city and how someday our kids will just think its a bygone of an era passed. I don't have any tattoos, not because I disapprove or don't want any. It has more to do with the money, placement and decision of which to get. I have since I turned 18 wanted a tattoo for my grandmother who I loved dearly and I came up with the perfect design and everything and Im sure one day I will get it but Im also so indecisive I guess I worry about that and the (somewhat) permanence of tattoos. I also as Im sure some people scoff at worry about placement because of the career I want. While it is becoming more and more common to see people in workplaces of all kinds with tattoos. I still want to be able to conceal them when I want and never want it to stop me from being afforded an opportunity because as sad as it is people still judge.

    1. It's surprisingly easy to cover them up, although it can be really annoying to have to do so. The ones of my forearms mean that even in the summer, I have to wear long sleeves for work.

  4. Awesome post! I have a lot of tattoos as well, some meaningful, some just because I liked it at the time. And I've got a lot more planned. My first one I got for my 18th birthday and only because I had originally wanted to get my eyebrow pierced and my mom said that she would rather me get a tattoo than get anything pierced on my face(weird parent logic there haha) so I said okay! I hadn't even thought about getting a tattoo until she said that. I don't think she thought I would actually take her up on it haha. And from then on I was hooked. Other than my first one, the rest I got while in college and while I thought about placement and what would be okay for the workplace, I didn't let that discourage me from getting what I wanted. And like you mentioned, they can be covered up. And I would rather cover something up for a few hours a day than not get a tattoo that I really want. :)