I was pulling around a car to get out of a parking lot recently and while scanning the area for other cars and pedestrians I spied a table of women seated at an outdoor patio (which in itself begs the question, why would anyone want to eat a meal at a table in the middle of a parking lot? Who plants a restaurant patio where the aromas of food mingle with car exhaust? Ok, I digress…but it really cheeses me off!) Anyway, I suddenly gasped, and I mean ‘gasped’; with a huge intake of air. I was so startled by what I saw I was momentarily halted and it was several seconds later that I recovered my composure and resumed my drive out. I did, however, take a last quick glance to make sure I saw what I thought I did.

At the table of three sat a middle aged woman and two younger women, her daughters I speculate. The mother looked average enough, as did one of the younger daughters/women. The other however was a sight, an unsettling sight. Her spiked hair was jet black, unnaturally so, almost like ink toner, and I do not exaggerate when I say there was no place on her face that wasn’t pierced or tattooed. There were earings, spikes, and any number of protruding pieces of hardware sticking out of her eye brows, nose, lips, ears, and even her neck, and I can only describe the overall look as frightening. I’ve never seen anything like it and I found myself wondering why one would do that to themselves.

Now I’m not so naïve about body art. Society is riddled with people ‘expressing themselves’ with everything from purple hair and facial piercings, to full body tattoos. So much so in fact, that these people are not a novelty and no longer warrant the lengthy questioning gazes they once did, but this girl, this was beyond self-expression. Surely she had to know her appearance invited much attention, it so clearly breaches conventional society. So is that what this is, a cry for attention? And does she care what kind of attention she gets, i.e., is it the shock effect she was going for? Because shock is probably the more common reaction she would get, and I’d venture to say once the shock wore off the residual reaction would not be positive. I do not exaggerate when I say this young girl looked like something out of  sci-fi movie.

Now after the initial shock of her appearance wears off I have to admire her guts because parading around in public like that guarantees constant scrutiny and that speaks to someone who is either so confident they care not what others think (good or bad) and proudly strut their stuff, or, they are so painfully insecure they resort to drastic measures to get attention. Either way, this individual has undergone hours of painful body piercing to acquire this body art and jewelry, not to mention the cost, and any subsequent health risks.

Tattoo ink can be toxic and goes well beyond the skin layers so long term effects can be seriously detrimental to health. Piercings too come with risks including infection, allergic reactions, bleeding, and damage to nerves. So you have to ask yourself, how much are you willing to risk in the name of fashion? And should you no longer want your body art what are the chances of removing tattoos and piercing without scars?

The next 4-5 decades will be very telling because the generations that made tattoos and body piercings popular will be approaching middle and old age (assuming they don’t die of body art related illness before then) and it will be interesting to see if they still favour this style. What’ll those tattoos look like on skin that is shriveled with age? And how pretty will those facial piercings look when embedded in wrinkles? Maybe the ‘new’ style of the future will include wearing facial masks. (Now there’s an idea for some budding young entrepreneur. Start up a business for trendy facial masks and in 30 years you’ll be a millionaire!)

I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and no one has the right to criticize another’s ‘style’. And I have to admit I’ve seen some strikingly beautiful art work in the form of tattoos, so it’s not that I’m against body art, I’d just prefer to admire the work framed on a wall, or in the pages of a magazine or book. That way if I tire of it and crave something new, I can easily move on without painful laser surgery and scarring. But that’s just me….. unadorned, unpainted, and un-bejeweled me. I guess I don’t crave the attention, or maybe I lack the confidence to walk in society looking like a Christmas tree, but I’ll bet my life that when this young woman and I are both eighty and wrinkled, I’ll look better than her.

Tattoo.jpg                 Tattoo scars.jpg

Tattoos are just scars with a better story

3 thoughts on “The shock effect

  1. All the tattoos….will they all still love their choices in 5 years? 10 years? Getting a tattoo is believing that your style and preferences will never change. I cannot understand it, but you are right, to each their own.


  2. apart from the possibility that these phenomena provoke us to ‘widen the pegs of our tent’ we might have to allow that it might not be about ‘style’. we’d have to hear about each person’s rationale from the horses’ mouth…studs, scars, and all. emily…could be time for a timely interview !!?? best joan l.


  3. Agree with you. I guess these young people haven’t really thought it through – the change in taste, the wrinkles, the health problems. Having said that, two things come to mind. To each his own is one, and the other, rather cynically is, You made your bed, now lie on it.


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