I like tattoos, not all of them, there are many epic fails that I have seen and wouldn't wish on anyone, but overall, I find them a fascinating glimpse into who we perceive ourselves to be. As part of some doctoral research some years back I did a body-piercing/tattoo field research project and found it both fascinating and enlightening to discover from both tattooists and their customers, the reason for inking themselves. Ultimately I think it is a phenomenon related to late 20th cenutry loss of stability and security in external sources--be they insititutional or relational--and that the body is often perceived as the last 'permanent object' a person feels they have and thus it becomes the site of self-perception and inscription.
The rise of tattoos from the margins to the centre of cultural life has been something I have witnessed over the course of my life. There was a time when tattoos singled a person out as a less than deisrable type-to be tattooed was to enter the realm of the morally questionable and corrupt, but these days it seems to be a rite of passge for many people, and begins quite early in life. First tattoos can be quite naive, but even then they are often infused with some meaning however percious or destined to be eclipsed by life as it unfolds.
I came across a fascinating article today on tattoos, wth particular focus on the rise of female tattoos, apparently there are now more women with tattoos than men for the first time in recorded history. the article is based on the latest edition of Margot Mifflin's book, Bodies of Subversion, which is due out this month. Lutheran minister, Nadia Bolz-Weber is featured in the latest edition, she has some fine work on her person, as colorful and insightful as she is.
The article, cites Kat Von D as a major link in this chain. For the unitiated, KVD is a fixture on the LA scene, a majorly tattooed artists, whose reality shows have made her perhaps the world's best known tattoo artists. Anyway, the article is well worth a read, and the book will be as well.