We've got it right on tattoos

November 24, 2016 23:22

The age of great liberation that my generation finds itself living in comes with many, many perks.

People can work from where they like, as long as there's decent wi-fi and online banking. It's never been easier to travel. Relationships of all kinds are finally being welcomed and the sharing economy is booming. This youth, of which I am a member, can be defined by its commitment to impermanence.

We rent our properties, our music and our cars. As and when we need them.

But with this great surge of freedom also comes a reticence to commit and almost a pathological hatred of decisiveness.

Friends of mine can barely make a decision about where we are meeting for drinks until the very last minute. Despite the world genuinely being our oyster, we fumble about not knowing where to venture next on holidays, again until the very last minute. Who are these people who have booked their winter holidays for 2017 already?

Friends can barely make a decision until the last minute

Being a decisive person, as I am, this can be very taxing. And yet, who can blame us millennials and those who trail in our wake, for only living for the moment?

We can't easily afford to buy our own homes; jobs are no longer for life and pension pots. They will be something only noted in museums and library archives by the time I reach my dotage.

However, only one thing flies in the face of this group inertia and loathing of perpetuity: tattoos.

My age group (30-somethings) and younger are covered in ink. Dripping in the stuff.

As a keen amateur artist myself, I know I should gaze upon tattoos with wonder. Instead I find myself feeling utterly bewildered at how anyone could want to mark themselves permanently.

The craze is such that even the Police Federation of England and Wales are now considering rowing back on a previous rule that banned officers from having tattoos on their hands, necks and even faces. Yes, that's right. You may soon be confronted with the sight of a copper coming towards you with an inked neck or forehead.

The Met Police have banned officers from having tattoos visible on their hands or face since 2012. But in a laudable attempt to make sure forces are not missing out on some top talent, heavily tattooed wannabe cops might now break through into the policing ranks.

My personal aversion to tattoos is an area where I finally find myself totally in sync with one of the many prohibiting laws of Judaism. As a keen foodie, I am sorry to say I regularly find myself at odds with the Kashrut laws. I've even expressed my view to the nation (on BBC Radio 4 no less) that God got it wrong on bacon.

In Judaism, tattoos are a strict no-no. In Leviticus it says: "You shall not etch a tattoo on yourselves." More or less. So on this point I find myself inadvertently Orthodox.

On a much darker note, tattoos also denote the horror of the Holocaust to many Jews. They remind people of enslavement, branding and unimaginable cruelty. In fact, my mother-in-law, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, threatened to disown any of her children should they dare go near the dreaded ink needle when they were younger. They got the message loud and clear.

I also subscribe to the viewpoint that our bodies are already pieces of art. Clothes and make-up can, and do, enhance our natural attributes. But it's no small coincidence that in the social media age of me, me, me, inking our bodies has gone into overdrive.

For tattoos are yet another thing to Insta or humble brag about online. Or to make people feel different (from a crowd all busily doing the same thing to themselves).

At the end of the day - each to their own.

Tattoos for many are signs of love; success; achievement and sometimes a painful commemoration of what's gone before. I don't doubt that. I've met people who've proudly saved up for months for their latest ink. And the folk who create them are artists in the truest sense of the word. They really are.

But as cheesy as it sounds, I'd much rather we moved away from a superficial society that attached such great importance to how individuals look. Instead how about we move towards valuing what's coming out of people's mouths, rather than the ink surrounding it?

November 24, 2016 23:22

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