The World According to Renee

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Are tattoos the new black?

Once upon a time, in a little place called Australia, the tattoo was a small, black symbol easily concealed under clothes. It was worn by a select few, usually bikies, gang members and other people rebelling against society. A few people had tattoos from an earlier time: WWII.

Fast forward to 2010. The once easily concealable tat has become large, colourful, intricate and available for the world to see. They appear covering a whole arm (the “sleeve”), backs of necks, lower back (the “tramp stamp”), ankles, wrists, shoulder blades, necks, ears and even eyebrows can be tattooed on. No longer are the tattooed rebelling against society; they are becoming the norm. It is not confined to ‘bogans’- those in socioeconomic sub-societies akin to the US trailor park set.

Whilst bogans seem to have the monopoly on certain types of tattoos (namely the tramp stamp), tattoos in general are popping up in the least likely of places. Everyone from the checkout chick to the top executives sport tattoos. Hopefully the tats bear witness to sacred symbolism meaningful to the wearer and not the result of a drunken night out with the mates. Tribal tattoos have always been common among the Island nations, such as Samoa and New Zealand Maoris. Such tribal tats are now sported by increasing numbers of barely pubescent teens. Maybe it’s the new rite of passage?

Faces, names and nature seem to be the most popular choices. Johnny Rzeznik from the band Goo Goo Dolls has a tattoo of a Picasso painting on his arm. Faces of wise men or Native Americans adorn many an arm. Names of children and loved ones can be seen on necks and lower backs. Even the dates of birth of children are remembered in permanent ink on a felshy body part. Or, if you’re Angelina Jolie, the latitudes of where your children were born.

Increasingly, meaningful phrases are being tattooed along arms and necks. Stan Walker, the 2009 Australian Idol, has a Maori word engraved on his neck. Other popular phrases include, “Enjoy life”, “No regrets” (ha! Will they feel that way when they’re 50 and their skin is sagging?), “Such is life” and “Pay before you enter” (you can imagine where this one was tattooed…)

There are numerous blogs on the internet with badly spelled tattoos. I’ve yet to see one in real life but I’m sure they’re out there. You don’t need a PhD to become a tattooist; you don’t even have to pass a spelling test.

The new craze of having UV ink embedded in your body for the sake of art is undeniably cool and repulsive at the same time. The ink is invisible in normal light but clearly visible under those black lights seen in nightclubs. I suppose it’s really only useful if you club a lot and wish to look like a tool in front of hot chicks at the bar.

A friend of mine had her boyfriend’s name tattooed on her hip. She was 16 when it was done. Every person she knew tried to talk her out of it. She knew all the reasons but her reasoning was, she’d always remember him as her first real boyfriend- tat or no tat. (They’re still together five years later.)

When the current generation of 20-somethings reach middle age, their skin starts to sag, the ink has faded and their kids ask “Why?” (or “Who’s Mary?”) maybe they’ll feel differently about their decision to ink their skin. Maybe tattoo removal will have improved, both in price and efficacy. Until then, the parade of skin art will continue to fascinate, repulse and satisfy me.

(I’m still thinking of getting the tat on my wrist…)


January 14, 2010 - Posted by | 1


  1. Don’t do it! Get a piercing or something…at least you can take that out when you’re bored with it.

    Comment by BMac | January 15, 2010 | Reply

  2. Many famous celebrities like David Beckham really likes to show his tattoo so yes in 2010 we will some new trends of tattooing to come to the scene.

    Comment by Buy Tattoos | January 15, 2010 | Reply

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