Tattoos: Graffiti or Art?

Source: tumblr.com
A few weeks ago, I had the joy of watching the wonderfully honest Katie Hopkins go off on another one of her rants on This Morning that tend to offend, upset and piss a lot of people off - a talent that only she could possess (another one is making sexual advances toward an incredibly uncomfortable Phillip Scofield, which always makes me giggle). In this particular rant, Katie decided that it wasn’t enough to hate on overweight individuals, lower class families and all the Charmaines and Brooklyns of the world, and so advanced to proclaiming her hate for tattoos. “I think as an employer I certainly wouldn't employ someone with tattoos [...] socially I think we still look at tattoos as graffiti,” she stated, whilst a heavily tattooed ex-X Factor contestant Katie Waissal sat beside, grimacing at her words. Hopkins added “When you see tattoos you think of someone who's looking for attention, who hasn't managed to find a way in their life through conventional means who is just shouting, 'I want attention'.”

Now let’s be honest; Katie isn't the first 'public figure' who’s opinion of body art isn't particularly positive. Back in September, Donald Trump criticised Miss World contestant Theresa Veil’s abdominal tattoo, stating that he was ‘not a fan’ of body art and the Miss Universe Organisation did not encourage it. Dame Hellen Mirren thoroughly regrets the tattoo on her hand that she got as a teenager and is “utterly disgusted and shocked because it's become completely mainstream, which is unacceptable.” My friend’s father deems that he grew up in an era where the only place you’d find tattoos is on the arms and chests of criminals. It’s difficult to blame them for their thoughts; depending on age, personal experience and cultural background, opinions of body art are extremely diverse. 

(Also, we must also take into consideration that Katie has made a name for herself by being controversial. She’s established herself as the queen of quarrels, spouting opinions that not only shock and offend, but get people talking about her. She is essentially a clothed, snobby Miley Cyrus; where Cyrus provokes discussion with her body, Hopkins stuns with her pretentiousness and hostile attitude to almost anything that doesn’t appeal to her standard of living.)

My tattoo right after completion.
In a way, I can understand why certain individuals would find it difficult to approve of tattoos considering the examples that exist on popular celebrities. Cheryl Cole recently decided that an entire lower backs worth of roses wasn’t enough for her, and proceeded to ink her entire buttocks with the flowers. Teen icons One Direction and Justin Bieber are smothered with body art, adding to their collections on an almost monthly basis; while Harry Styles has a senselessly placed butterfly across his chest, the Biebz decided that his first tattoo was to be of a beautiful nocturnal creature (nope, not a wolf, an owl). Perhaps these are not the most classy of examples, but these stars exist daily within our newspapers, on our televisions and computer screens; it’s inevitable that the younger generations will be somewhat influenced.

However, I can’t seem to believe that having a tattoo has any influence on how educated or successful you are. In a pretentious and intolerant thread that I recently discovered on the good ol’ internet, a group of middle-aged men and women were found ranting about the effects of tattoos in modern society. The thread was started by an individual who claimed that if he discovered a tattoo on a partner, he would end the relationship almost immediately. Here are a few quotes I managed to pull up:

“[...] a man might come to like a woman and only then discover she has a tattoo. Then he suddenly finds her repulsive. It’s embarrassing.” 

I think it would be useful if someone were to launch a line of rings, brooches, pins, whatever, to show that the wearer has NO tattoos

“A beautiful lady decorated with a tattoo can be compared to a glass of sparkling “Dom PĂ©rignon” to which someone has added a dash of urine.

Pretty ruthless, no?

I can't even begin to express how much this thread angered me. People get tattoos for a number of reasons – to commemorate a certain important event or person, to proclaim their courage and strength, to cover up scars, or purely for decoration. They are a personal choice of enhancing ones appearance, much like dying hair or getting ears pierced. I am in my twenties, am educated to university degree level and have two tattoos which mean something to me but can easily be hidden for professional purposes. You cannot, and should not proceed to judge an individual’s personality or lifestyle purely by what decorates their body. I say the word ‘decorate’ with utmost emphasis, because tattoos are ultimately a piece of artwork – although created by someone else – that is on your skin forever. Yes, it is permanent, but it's your choice, and it doesn't make a heavily tattooed guy any less educated than his bare-skinned counterpart.

It truly disappoints me that someone’s personal choice can offend and anger a group of complete strangers to the point that they start to question that person’s morality, class and values. These are grown individuals, people who have experience in the world and are probably well educated. These are people who are supposed to be setting an example to the younger generations, providing them with morals. We are trying to teach our children not to judge others based on appearance, skin colour, background or sexual preferences, and yet believing a person with a tattoo is of lower class or lacked proper education is precisely that; a judgment, an unwarranted presumption, much like assuming all blondes are dense or all lesbians are man-hating feminists. People constantly comment on losing faith in the younger generations...well I seem to be losing faith in the older ones.



  1. Being vocally 'anti-tattoo' (or anti any appearance based indicator) is, to my mind, status-driven, tribal-like judgement: "that person is not part of 'my' tribe. Thus I can discount their importance as a fellow human being and thereby elevate my own importance..."
    I have sometimes thought of having a zip pull tattooed at the top of the scar running the length of my spine.

    1. Firstly, I'd like to say that I read your blog very frequently and am a big fan of your writing, so to have you coming and reading my (frankly inferior) stuff is an honour - thank you. Secondly, I agree with you 100%. It's insane how intolerant people can be about others that don't conform to their 'standards'. Your tattoo idea sounds wonderful, you should give it a go. x


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