Sunday, February 13, 2011

Would You Like Some Ink with that Milestone? (Written by Kirstie Williams)

This is a fun and quite informative read, written by one of my best friends, Kirstie Williams, who happens to be the mastermind behind the awesome blog, In The Light ( Kirstie loves to 'shed light' on contemporary world issues, as well as personal revelations, in an engaging and highly intellectual manner (in other words, go read her blog betchez! ;P) - ENJOY!!

I am unashamedly an ink voyeur. I love the stories; I love the grand gestures and the idea of pain to create something unique. I love seeing those people pass you on the street who seem to be a walking autobiography. The small initial behind the ear, the map-coordinates on the forearm, the pictures of compasses, birds and anything other signifier to tell the world they have journeyed.

The celebration of a milestone, the ‘body as canvas’ approach or the simple act of storytelling: the list of reasons is unending.

The stigma surrounding tattoos in Western society used to be bound to criminal associations and ‘anti-establishment’ attitudes. It was often seen as a link to a nefarious subculture or scorned upon almost as ‘body graffiti’.

But now you are just as likely to see a tattoo on a beautiful, young woman as on the bulging arm of a hardened, leather-clad man.

Tattoos have become not only more common and increasingly more acceptable in creative industries- they are becoming mainstream.

Take Cheryl Cole for instance- the sleek Brit-pop export ascending the list of ‘best-dressed’ and ‘most beautiful’ lists the world over. She now has 7 known tattoos. Most noticeably and probably most regrettably; a tribute to her former husband, footballer Ashley Cole. (She has “Mrs C’ tattooed on her neck).

For many, tattoos have lost the masculine stigma, and can even be viewed as a confident display of femininity. Women who can tell their own story and choose to give a glimpse of their identity, struggles and triumphs to passers-by.

Angelina certainly hasn’t lost any of her feminine charm since continuing to decorate her skin. If anything, she is more of an enigma. Often cited as the most beautiful woman in the world; the contrast of her sensuality and the black ink on her skin seems to speak of a woman of complexity.

She bears stories of the co-ordinates of where her children were born, the memories of ex-lovers, the blessings of Khmer script; the musing of Tennessee Williams. She is a walking story.

For those of us unwilling to experience the pain, or fearing future regret and social stigmas, we can watch comfortably from the sidelines. We can fuel the voyeur with Miami Ink. We can read about them while waiting in the doctor’s surgery, we can ask our friend, colleague or fellow student to tell us their story.

I guess the most important thing is to make sure that the story is worth telling. That it is a story you are proud to wear and tell others about for the rest of your life; through every change in job, change in your body and change in social circles. An unknown author once said, “Think before you ink.”

V.Vale et al say, “A tattoo is a true poetic creation, and is always more than meets the eye.” If it is essentially poetry that you are writing, the best kind is always one that reflects on emotion and identity. One that can link the past, the present, and the future. The fragility and beauty of the human experience.

“As a tattoo is grounded on living skin, so its essence emotes a poignancy unique to the mortal human condition.”

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