I read through the March issue of Vogue the other day. It’s the power issue, and Beyoncé was on the cover. Dang! I just love that woman. In terms of performance skill alone, it is my opinion that she is an unmatched and holy creation. But I digress…Back to Vogue. There was a feature on Diablo Cody, which I really liked. In it, the stripper-turned-screenwriter jokes that she is “clinging to her youth” and uses a tattoo she has as an example of this inability to grow up. That tattoo was of a cookie, so I don’t think it was the author’s intention to imply anything here, but it got me to thinking about the way people view tattoos and piercings as some kind of rebellion reserved only for youth.
What’s that all about? I guess I don’t know what percentage of people get tattoos in their early 20s versus their early 40s, but I kind of resent the idea that only the young and foolish would have the nerve to permanently modify their bodies. That if you’re a 30-something looking for a job in the professional world, you better not have any visible tattoos or piercings if you want to be taken seriously. I’ve been told, as well, that it goes double for me because I’m a woman.
But what bearing does that really have on my ability to carry out a job? I know I was raised with a kick ass work ethic, whether or not I have a small tattoo on my wrist or a piercing going through my septum. That my exterior is so “disruptive” does not suddenly make me unworthy of being taken seriously as a professional and productive member of society.
The kinds of people who are attracted to tattoos and piercings are not limited to just vagabonds and kids in high school on a quest to piss off their moms and teachers. They tend to be the kinds of people who are also very interested in other modes of personal expression. They are our writers, our poets, our artists, our musicians and our fashionistas.
They are those souls who make it their daily mission to dive deep into themselves and emerge with understanding. They are few and far between, and ultimately, I think this is what is behind the way people tend to recoil from those of us who decide we want to pay to be pricked with needles on our faces or sit still for hours at a time as ornate decorations are carved into our skin.
In a world that promotes conformity, it takes a certain amount of self-assuredness to decide you know you want to change the way your body looks for the rest of your life. I think that kind of assertiveness of the self, of knowing exactly who you are and not being ashamed that “who you are” isn’t mainstream, is something that engenders anxiety and sometimes anger in others.