Thursday, March 27, 2014

An awful lot of trouble the rest of your life...



"Do not get tattooed.  Ask any man you see who has been tattooed and he will tell you that he would give anything to have the tattooing removed.  It is dangerous, costly, and an awful lot of trouble the rest of your lfe."

The Bluejackets' Manual, United States Navy, 1940



71 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hello, would anyone know what brand of khakis our tatooless friend is wearing?

Bernie said...

Can't agree more, especially now that everyone is doing it. When I'm at the town beach I see all these women with tramp stamps and ass antlers it just makes me cringe. They say it's an expression of self, but I think tattoos are so prevalent that choosing not having one says a lot.

sara said...

Two thoughts about tattoos.

Since I live in the third "most tattooed city in America", I'm glad I won't be around to see what all this ink is going to look like on aging, baggy, saggy skin.

Someone is going to make a lot of money in the next 10-15 years offering tattoo removal services.

Anonymous said...

I do not care for tattoos at all on women. I see lots of young girls ruining their skin with them, and I just shake my head. One or two tasteful ones on a man, in a proper place, are ok. I see so much overdone ink anymore. It's just ridiculous. --Holly in PA

WRJ said...

Due to my age, most of my contemporaries seem to have at least one tattoo--including some close friends. But I never understood it, particularly now that the meaning of tattoos has largely devolved from signaling earned membership in a group (savory or unsavory) to "something that I kind of like or think is cool or pretty".

In my family, getting a tattoo was simply inconceivable. It was in the same category as smoking, being fat, having a loose tie knot, or not graduating from college: verboten; not allowed in our gene pool. One of the funniest interactions I've ever witnessed was an in-law showing my mother the tattoo she had just gotten on a whim for her 50th birthday. Based on my mother's reaction, you'd have thought she was speaking in tongues.

Having said that, I don't judge the character of others based on whether or not they have tattoos, since they really are now nothing more than a fashionable trend. It certainly says something about a person--that they're easily swept up in the cultural tide--but not a lot. And the idea that everyone will regret them and want them removed just doesn't seem accurate anymore. We'll have an entire generation of people with stretched-out, faded, age-inappropriate tattoos when they're 60--it will be too common to be unacceptable. Depressing as that may be.

sara said...

WRJ - You may be right but most people change as they get older. It's a little depressing to think and hard to imagine 40/50/60 year old women won't regret having a skull tattooed on their breast or a snake tattooed in their armpit.

Anonymous said...

At 38 years old, I do regret the tramp stamp I got over 20 years ago. The only good thing? I can't see it and since I now make more "modest" choices in swimwear, neither can anyone else.

Shamefully Agrees said...

This is quite true. Take it from someone who has 3 (every young man, even of the WASP variety, rebels to some degree)-- you'll do better not to get them. Mine are inconspicuous in normal attire and not at all tacky or tasteless and yet I still regret them mightily.

-Zach

Patsy said...

My favorite tattoo story:

A friend's 16 year old daughter begged for a tattoo to no avail. She came home one day with a tramp stamp that said All Aboard. It was a Thomas the Tank Engine Tattoo she got from the little boy she babysat for......her Dad told us it was the only time he'd seen his wife literally speechless - she was physically unable to make a sound.

Well played, young friend.

jo baldwin said...

I have one that I got many years ago and look on it as a reminder of the great times I was having back then.

WRJ said...

sara, I agree that some people will regret their tattoos, as commenters here prove. Some of my friends already do. But I don't think people feel the same sort of regret one might have experienced, say, 30 years ago--that you have done some serious damage to yourself in the eyes of society and marked yourself as an "other". I have friends who regret their tattoos. They laugh about them, roll their eyes when asked about them, get them covered up with another tattoo they hate less, etc. None have considered removal. More tellingly, I don't think any of them have qualms about, say, being a parent with tattoos, or getting married with visible tattoos, or being old with tattoos--which were some of the warnings drilled into my head growing up.

I.e., they tend to regret the tattoo(s) that they have gotten, not their status as tattooed. Which I think is an important distinction that illuminates the changing attitudes of a society in which something like 1/3 to 1/2 of all people under 40 are tattooed.

Anonymous said...

A given. What makes the post cool is the Navy, the khakis, the et cetera.

Galestorm said...

I find nothing more disgusting than seeing a mother with small children tattooed from head to toe. I see so many women that look like they belong in the circus as the tattooed lady. I just can't imagine what they were thinking to do that to their bodies. I also have a problem with college ball players tattooed all over their bodies. I think there should be rules against it as long as they are on a college team. Even the military has rules and regs on tattoos, or at least the USMC does.

Chesapeake said...

While I have none myself, I do believe that everyone should have at least one thing in/about their life that they would not regret affixing permanently with a tattoo. Whether or not it's actually necessary to do so is up to the individual. If so, stick to something important and symbolic and keep it small and covered.

Anything else is just tacky.

Joyce North said...

I love Patsy's tattoo story!

R.A. Sasayama said...

Receiving tattoos to commemorate rites of passage and status is fine with me, and I imagine it is more likely to result in pride rather than regret.

I think it's silly at best to get a tattoo because it's fashionable, counter-cultural, or youthful. I'll think about getting one when I'm 60, just like taking up smoking!

Jess said...

Some cultures are into tattoos, and some are not. In Jewish tradition, it is expressly forbidden because it has "pagan" origins, and the body is considered in the image of God.
There doesn't seem to be much middle ground here. I don't judge anyone's choices, but I would say it is definitely not preppy, especially for women.

I went to a resort in VT where they also gave day passes to locals for the pool use, and every single person was tatted up. I felt like the odd one out.

Alexandra said...

I abhor tattoos on anyone, male or female. There is nothing more beautiful than pure, clear, un-inked natural skin.

Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke said...

Yep. Really not much more to say about it. Like making sure to practice good table manners, a person either gets it, or he/she does not.

Best Regards,

Heinz-Ulrich von B.

Cranky Yankee said...

I think that SNL got it right with their commercial for Dr. Turlington's Tattoo Remover:

https://screen.yahoo.com/turlingtons-lower-back-tattoo-remover-000000691.html

mary anne said...

Tattoos as a fashion statement are silly at best. They are no longer a statement of rebellion. As for individuality, that ended long ago ah well, chacon a son goût.

diary of a tomato said...

Along these same lines, my mother-in-law (a fellow Muffy) and I were just discussing pierced ears, and how it used to be looked upon the same as tattoos, as something "nice" girls didn't do...

Paul Connors said...

My Dad, an Army officer told me when I went into the service to NOT get tattooed. Officers don't have them and they are perceived by many outside of the military as being tasteless and low class.

I heeded his advice and never got any. Like other posters here, I really can't stand them on women and I think there are all too many young women with side-to-side "tramp stamps" on their lower backs, on their legs and shoulders who will rue they day they took on so much ink.

I have been accused of being old fashioned for not liking them and not dating women who have them.

I prefer to think that I have standards that I adhere to. It's not even a question of peer pressure, this trends is just another example of the vulgarization of our society.

Paul Connors said...

The US Army has just issued new regulations regarding tattoos and while I won't go into all of them here, they have had to grandfather soldiers currently in the service but will no longer permit NEW tattoos on the hands, neck, face or head. Soldiers will not be allowed to have full sleeve tattoos on their arms and soldiers who do now will not be allowed to become commissioned officers.

Going forward commanders will have to inspect their personnel EVERY year to ensure that new tattoos (if any) comply with regulations and those that don't be removed or the service member will be processed for discharge.

The USAF, USN and USMC also have tightened their standards on "ink" as well.

Anonymous said...

Cranky Yankee's video link is HYSTERICAL! A must watch.

Greenfield said...

"Tasteless and low class" pretty much sums it up for me.

Anonymous said...

What a good laugh. Both the All Aboard story and the video made me chuckle. Thanks.

AcadianYankee said...

There are some people groups (ie. Polynesian,Native American) that still use traditional tattoos as a way of preserving their fast disappearing culture. This type of tattooing I respect because it builds the individual's pride in their ancestry and creates a cohesiveness within the group. Unfortunately, the modern trend towards tattooing whatever silly thing strikes your fancy does none of these things. Did anyone see the "news" article about the young man who recently got an entire McDonald's receipt tattooed on his forearm? Hmm, makes you just scratch you head in disbelief...

Anonymous said...

A life pursued at the surface level is constantly searching for new stimuli. Because the person has not successfully found a satiating depth to meet their curiosity, new ground must be traveled. The ancient, iconic practice of tattoo has lost its relevance when used as fashion, using symbology in the same manner that once traveled via custom t-shirts - remember those? It may be a minority view, but I equate the proliferation of tattoos for social sport as a sign of societal deconstruction and boredom, not one of style progression or simple rebellion.

sara said...

Anonymous at 6:17; it's also another sign of the rampant narcissism which seems to have overtaken society. Several very tattooed young people have told me tats are a "conversation starter" and that it's "fun to tell people about me". I guess people don't talk about jobs, schools, books, sports, etc. It's all about "me me me me".

Anonymous said...

I'm glad, Muffy, you brought this subject up. It touched a very raw nerve with me. Tattoos are one reason why I enjoy the winter: you don't see as many, with people's legs, arms, and necks covered. There's nothing worse than seeing them in the spring or summer time.

I despise seeing any man or woman with a tattoo, no matter how many or how few. Do these young people realize what they're going to look like in the 70s and up? I recall seeing a woman in her 70s last year shopping, covered with them on her arms and legs, and it was disgusting.

I find them to be an instant turn-off, and sadly I'm very quick to judge anyone who has them. They're just as bad as multiple body piercings (heck, I don't even have pierced ears). Tramp stamps, indeed.

Anonymous said...

We went as a family to the fair last summer and as we entered we saw coming towards us a woman with a snake around her neck. Being phobic (of snakes) i screamed, my husband and children jumped then also reacted. My husband said as the female passed us she did not have a snake wrapped around her - it was some sort of (non snake) tattoo but when plastered all over tended to give her a reptilian look. Nice.

Main Line Sportsman said...

I told my 3 kids that I would cut off any body part that they had tattooed. If I could not cut it off without killing them...then I would use a belt sander from the work bench to remove it. They are 17, 19 and 21 and still no ink....

Anonymous said...

I completely agree. Tattoos are trashy, period, and no lady would have one. Ditto for body piercings and acrylic nails.

DSF said...

Yeah, tattoos are tasteless and low-class. No one who wants recognition in proper society will succeed with a tattoo on his arm of a beautiful naked young woman entwined with an anchor beneath the words, "Subic Bay, 1985, Love 'Em and Leave 'Em." But few people who have such tattoos care what people from proper society think. I certainly do not, especially as long-sleeve shirts can be worn year-round. Short-sleeve shirts can be worn at any waterfront bar, where tattoos like that assure that one will not be bothered.

Lane said...

Amen.

And it's not fashion statement if it's permanent.

Reggie Darling said...

Amen, Sister! And don't get me started on grommets in earlobes. . .

Anonymous said...

When my son was in his late teens, his grandmother, still relatively young, was diagnosed with a particularly virulent and aggressive cancer. She died within weeks. He was so distraught, he had his grandmother’s initials tattooed on his leg in very small letters, barely noticeable, unless you were crawling on your knees with a magnifying glass. When he showed this artwork to me, I had two choices, to make my objections know or let this pass. I chose the latter.

First and foremost, it was his leg, not mine. Secondly, I fully understood the sentiment behind his decision. They were thick as thieves. And lastly, my son is a very bright and personable fellow; I was not about to wave my standards in his face. Instead, I waved the white flag of surrender, which is often the best course of action.

At college, I belonged to a posh club; most members had ladybugs tattooed on their wrists where a watchstrap would provide cover. At the time, I thought this rather clever, but never got around to getting mine. I can only imagine how my mother would have reacted. I will, however, offer this short list of royals who have made the trip to the tattoo parlor:

Edward VII and George V of England, King Frederick IX of Denmark, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, King Alexander of Yugoslavia, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and King Alfonso XIII of Spain.

Alas, they’ve all gone to their reward where they are safe from criticism.

MGC

John B said...

If you get a tattoo of William F Buckely on my upper back. Is that preppy?

Anonymous said...

I dress Ivy, Preppy, whatever you call it, but I can say that I have dated over the years many of the "Suicide Girls" type (be careful if you Google it, probably NSFW) and can say that their tattoos don't bother me at all.

I do think they are automatically very casual though, so anyone getting one should consider placing it where they can conceal it when desired.

Dutch Uncle said...

I was pleased to see the adjectives vulgar, tasteless, low-class, and trashy in the comments. It's always a relief to be reminded that there are people with high standards and a sense of propriety.

Alan Abraham said...


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N from Va said...

MGC. Bravo. Your story is touching, poignant and loving. A tribute to character all around.

Anonymous said...

My father once said “tattoos are very common”, I replied “yes, many people have them” and he replied “that is not what I meant.”

sara said...

MGC, one discreet tattoo is a very different subject from being covered in them, don't you think? The people you mentioned could have had full body tattoos but people were covered in clothing in those days. That certainly isn't the case now.

You bring up an interesting point though; what did the kings' tattoos look like? They probably weren't covered in snakes, barbed wired, naked men, naked women, demons, skulls, dragons & rodents.

Cranky Yankee said...

I think I just figured it out. A tattoo is the OCBD of the non-prep.

GK Chesterton said...

If one decides to get a neck tattoo, and is interested in a white collar career, it might as well say "I am not employable."

WRJ said...

MGC's comment reminded me of my fundamental inability to understand even "good" tattoos: the leap -- from a feeling or sentiment (of sadness, loss, pride, whatever; genuine, sympathetic, or admirable) to the belief "I must have this sentiment etched permanently onto my body" -- seems a pretty big one. I just have some intellectual block to understanding the calculus that leads to that response.

Joyce North said...

Cranky Yankee, that video is great! I laughed out loud!

I don't care for tattoos at all, however, I've met some very nice people who have them.

Patsy said...

Thankfully, my mother allowed my multiple pierced ears to pass.

Best regards,
Tasteless V. Lowclass

JDS said...

Tattoos, for me, have generally part of a subculture to which I do not subscribe. One or two on enlisted Navy men seem to be the exception.
MGC: "It's better to be kind that right". Well played.

Rachel Dunbar said...

The Daily Prep is one of my favorite blogs, and this post ranks high on my list as well. I have found the range of comments intriguing, so I’ll throw my hat in the ring to offer an additional thought: Why are we concerning ourselves so deeply with others’ appearances and are we using this information to determine character?

I am preppy, college-educated, and work within a prestigious natural history museum. I also happen to have tattoos. Close friends are incredibly surprised to learn this, given I am all of the things above. Many assume someone "lesser" would have tattoos, not me.

Be concerned with character rather than appearance; particularly because appearance can be fleeting. Let us not forget nearly anyone can look spectacular in a suit, including politicians, lawyers, and me.

jo baldwin said...

Chesapeake nailed it perfectly.

Paul Connors said...


Tacoma News Tribune | Mar 21, 2014 | by Adam Ashton


Troops with extensive, visible tattoos will be able to stay in the Army under a new uniform policy about to take effect, but they won't be able to get new ones and they face restrictions on their career advancement.

The new rules were leaked online Thursday in the form of a 57-page PowerPoint presentation dated March 19. Secretary of the Army John McHugh signed an order adopting them earlier this month, according to Army Times.

The rules, Army Regulation 670-1, cover everything from the ways troops must present their medals on their uniforms to how female soldiers can wear their hair during physical training. For the first time, the new policy allows female soldiers to wear ponytails during exercise.



Changes to Army tattoo policies drew the most attention last year when senior leaders were debating the regulation because body art grew in popularity among soldiers during the recent wars.

The new tattoo rules:

-- Forbid tattoos on the head, face, neck, hands, fingers and wrists.

-- Allow no more than four hand-size tattoos below the elbow and knee.

-- Prohibit sleeve tattoos that cover a person's entire arm.

-- Ban sexist, racist, indecent or extremist tattoos.

-- Bar enlisted soldiers from requesting commissions as officers if they have tattoos that violate the new policies.

-- Require commanders to document any tattoos that violate the new rules among current soldiers.

-- Order commanders to check their soldiers for new tattoos every year.


Related Topics
Army, Tattoo, Army Uniforms

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Anonymous said...

After reading all of the above comments about tattoos, it struck me that I have changed my mind concerning one aspect of tattoos. Until they became so prevalent several years ago, I associated tattoos with a certain type of person.

Most of the young people I see now who are covered in tattoos are working multiple, part-time jobs and seem to be barely scraping by. Now, I don't make a judgment about their character, I just think "wow, that person could really use some money management skills".

Anonymous said...

Gk Chesterton, that may have been true in the past - perhaps not now.

I know a young man who has numerous tattoos including one on his neck. For the past few years, debt collectors have been hot on his heels because he doesn't pay his bills. He must have a negative credit rating at this point. Imagine my astonishment when not only did he apply to work at the Federal Reserve Bank, he actually got a very, very good job there.

Greenfield said...

Rachel Dunbar: The point you raise has been debated at length, not only on TDP but other blogs and BBS unrelated which I frequent. It comes down to this:

People under 40 have this idea that others should NOT use their appearance, conduct, manners, or general demeanor "to determine their character." And they are SO wrong, as per the comment above about people marking themselves as "unemployable," or assuming dodgy moral and social status.

There ARE still a great many of us from a certain upbringing who had it ingrained in us that "if a person shows you who they are, believe them." Tattoos, flip-flops, piercings designed to get attention, and clothes that aggressively put your sexuality in everyone's face are GOING to get you judged; you may not like that, but it's the way the world of grown-ups works. Life is not the Internet!

Personally, I cannot for the life of me understand why someone with a good education, high standards of personal conduct and enough money to dress attractively would WANT to portray themselves as from the "fringes" of society--outcast, criminal, prostitute, whatever. Aside from juvenile rebellion against "the system," the attraction of these "costumes" eludes me.

JSL said...

There are charities that cover the costs for young ex-gang members to have their gang tattoos removed so that they can move forward with their lives. Perhaps the authors of some of the more passionately anti-ink comments above would wish to direct their energies into such a good cause?

And really, the notion that tattoos are forgivable on a man but odious on a woman is just plain absurd. Eventually everyone's skin slides towards the center of the Earth, male or female.

Anonymous said...

And Rachael, I'm curious about something you wrote. Yes, obviously character is more important than appearance. First impressions are very important though and determine whether you want to get to know someone, don't you think?

Katahdin said...

There was one socially-registered old boy at Bailey's Beach/The B&T with a tattoo on his bicep acquired while in the Navy. No one ever mentioned it.

WRJ said...

Two points commenters are missing is that (1) not every tattoo is on the forehead, hand, neck, face, forearm, etc. Believe it or not, there are tattooed people lurking undetected in our midst every day. First impressions don't typically include a full body inspection, unless you're entering prison. You can have a tattoo and still make a perfect first impression. (2) There's not much/any moral judgment among many younger people (say, <40) for getting a tattoo. Where in my mother's time it meant you were morally corrupt or a member of some lower caste, now it just signals that you are or once were kind of dumb, impulsive, and/or trendy. (With obvious exception, e.g. gang tattoos.) As I've stated, I'm personally anti-tattoo and find them, for lack of a better word, stupid and tattooed people somewhat pitiable. But the reality is, getting a tattoo is no longer some radically life-altering, career-constraining, black mark against character.

Rachel Dunbar said...

WSJ: Well said.

Greenfield: In your comment, you make a series of assumptions regarding attention seeking, assuming dodgy and moral social status, and portrayal of “fringe” society. Yet, more than twenty-three percent of Americans have a tattoo (Pew Research, 2010). Statistically-speaking, nearly a quarter of our population could not be described as the fringes of society. Furthermore, how much “ink” are you seeing regularly? My guess would not be an average of one in four people. From this, we can make a different assumption: Many tattooed keep their art to themselves, leading “grown up” lives with no one the wiser--as WSJ just described. I will concede that I may be biased as this is the case for me.

I will also agree there are some tattooed attention-seeking people, with dodgy moral status, that frequent the fringes of society. However, I would suggest their tattoos are merely a symptom of their attention-seeking nature, to specifically play on long-held negative assumptions.

Anonymous 3:05 p.m.
I agree--it is the reason I dress up for meetings, interviews, parties. However, as I mentioned to Greenfield, given the amount of Americans with tattoos we should be examining our negative assumptions, often involving character, regarding them. More to your first impression point and to quote Aristotle, “Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion.” Book, cover, judging, and all that jazz.

Anonymous said...

Now I want to fast forward ten years to see how many people who got tattoos today are still happy with them, and also if the amount of getting of new tattoos a decade hence is higher or lower than it is today.

Carmelo Pugliatti said...

Absolutly agree.
Tatooes are awful.

Anonymous said...

This has been an interesting slew of comments.

Tattoos and the people who sport them have been labeled trashy, narcissistic, trampy, vulgar, tasteless, low-class, unemployable, on the fringe of society, a part of a subculture, juvenile, and other coarse descriptors. I doubt much of this is true. I dare say to those who cast such labels that you have much more in common with tattooed people than you have differences.

These kinds of labels remind me of the kinds labels used in the 1960s with respect to rock and roll and long hair: trashy, narcissistic, trampy, vulgar, tasteless, low-class, unemployable, on the fringe of society, part of a subculture, juvenile, etc. Sound familiar? It’s ironic, though, that in the post immediately below this one regarding “What are pieces of music that everyone should know?” we see people recommend the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, … Hmmm.

The younger generation always seems to have to shove the older generation a bit to move things forward. The older folks think they have the lock on high standards and propriety, all the while listening to Mick Jagger and Gerry Garcia, I guess.

So, watch out, 40 or 50 years from now this website might be called “The Tattooed Daily Prep.”

Cheers,
Gary

Anonymous said...

My father was in the Navy and he never got a tattoo. He thought they were in poor taste. I have very nice friends who have discreet tats and a couple of my nephews have some larger tats. Even though I think highly of all these people I personally still think tattoos are tacky.

Whimmy

Anonymous said...

Greenfield: absolutely spot on.

When i see people with tattoos i think of all the hours and money they have spent having creepy people attack them with ink and needles and think, "they have too much time on their hands and not much on their minds.". I also think, "nothing in common with them"

Anonymous said...

Muffy:

You are the eternal provocateur!

Sante!

w.e.

Scotmiss said...

One of my aunts had pierced ears in the 1950's - my mother never said her name without adding 'she has pierced ears'. I cannot imagine what she would say about tattoos today - the only time she would approve of a tattoo was if it was on the arm of a Navy veteran. cheers!

Anonymous said...

Three of the many people I admire in history, Thomas Edison, Theodore Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, all sported tattoos. Churchill, a special hero of mine, had an anchor tattooed on his forearm. I have been in the tiny room at Blenheim Palace where he was born, and have visited his simple grave at St. Martin’s Church where he was laid to rest. I can assure you, this post has not changed my opinion of him.

As for my opinion of tattoos in general, that has not changed; I am not a fan. But I dare say, calling Winston Churchill tasteless, low class or tacky might put me in a special category reserved for certain members of the English speaking world, that of complete fool.

In boarding school, we were often quite nasty in our personal comments towards one another. Then we grew up.

MGC

TDP said...

We will give MGC the last word.