I want to thank you the HR Lady for her posting. I have a 14 1/2 year old daughter that wants to gauge her ears and I keep trying to make her think, "What is the FIRST thing I want people to think when they see me?" Because, baby, if you gauge your ears then you will NEVER get the chance to recover from the instant judgment that will be passed upon you by most of society that is OUTSIDE your own age bracket.
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But this isn't about ear gauges; it's about similar expressions of creativity and individuality.
It is both a Rant AND a Rave. And it's long. I have a great combination going on right now of passion for the subject and total boredom with whatever else I should be doing.
So for what it might be worth to you, here is the same advice I give EVERYONE that's contemplating their first tattoo.
1. Be sober. Stone. Cold. Sober. Period.
2. Research beforehand. Meaning, watch the artist work, check out samples of their work. Make sure their place is clean. If you wouldn't sit down there and eat a burger, leave immediately.
3. If you're going to get something written in a foreign language, have someone of that nationality (someone that you TRUST) write what you want FOR you and bring it to the artist. Alternatively you can have that person go with you so they can translate what you see before you get inked. Otherwise, you could end up with a tat on the back of your neck that you THINK says "I love my mother" but you're constantly getting your ass kicked because it really says, "Your mother's a whore".
4. Make sure you chose something that means something to you, not some trendy thing you're constantly going to have to explain once that fad passes. For those of you old enough to remember imagine if you had...say...Jem from Jem and the Holograms in portrait style...across your back. Yeah. SEE!?!
5. I used to make this "point #4A" since it is so closely related. But about 10 years ago (wow, I'm getting old, I just realized it was more like 15 years now) I decided it is probably THE single most important thing I say to prospective ink recipients so it gets its very own number now. In regards to things that REALLY mean something to you...and this is IMPORTANT: ***never, never never never NEVER NEVER NEVER put someone else's name, initials, portrait etc. on your body to whom you are not related BY BLOOD. EVER. Never. Did I say never? Okay, we covered that.
6. Put it someplace that the whole world isn't going to see it, because later, you may not be so thrilled (now proceed to #7 because it's relevant, I swear).
7. Most people find that once they get "my first tattoo" they either regret it instantly and start wondering "is there a way to get rid of it?" OR they love it and almost instantly start thinking "my next tat's gonna be...." So become comfortable with the notion of having multiple tattoos before you get your FIRST tattoo. Or don't get any at all.
8. Make sure you have plenty of money and a high tolerance for pain. A good tat shouldn't BE cheap, man. You are paying an artist for a permanent piece of art. If that person is doing the drawing for you then it's twice the work of art. If you want a cheap mass production, then by all means, go to the Wal-Mart of tattoo studios outside the back gate of the nearest Basic Training camp and pay $40 for the same thing that FOUR THOUSAND other dudes JUST LIKE YOU have *See caveats before you jump on me about Unit Crests and the like. Anyway, the reason you need to have the money and the tolerance for pain is not necessarily for GETTING the tattoo, it is just in case you fall in the first group from #7. Because, for you folks, removal is an option but it is not cheap, it is NOT pain free and it will probably leave a scar that ranges in severity from "Hm...is that a scar right there? I've never noticed that before" to somewhere in the neighborhood of, "Holy SHIT! Were you NAPALMED as a child!?!" (As a bonus, though, IF you followed the advice in #6, no one ever has to see the scar unless you let them because YOU were smart enough to put your first tat someplace discreet.)
Okay, for the caveats: No, I am not a tattoo artist. Yes, I have multiple tattoos. Nine have been inked but one's a cover up (that's how #5 got its very own number). For those of you sporting the Double A's of the 82nd, or the Head of the Screamin' Eagle or something similar, ROCK ON. That doesn't fall into the "cheap mass production" category it falls into the "means something special to me" category. (For the record, YOUR double AA's, Screamin' Eagles, Ranger Tabs, etc. mean something special to me when I see them also.)
The thing about MY tats though is that like the HR lady said, NONE OF THEM is in a readily visible area. I have none on my hands, wrists, arms, neck, face, etc. I have one on my shoulder (my first one, of course) and the others are basically on my legs. I wear pants, or long skirts or if I really really want to wear that skirt to work, then I know how to cover them to a point where you will never even see them unless I tell you they are there. (For those that care to know how, I'll put that at the very end) My point is, I don't HAVE to cover mine. I'm fortunate enough to make a good living in a field where it's simply not that frowned upon. I'm a computer geek. No one CARES what we look like. Most people are slightly frightened of us even without tats and they barely let us out of the dark anyway. But unless you want to spend your life working with inanimate objects, or you are Blessed to be talented as a clothing or interior designer, or capable as a chef, blah blah blah...then you better LIKE living in squalor because you're going to have slim pickings in the job market because people ARE judgemental. If you have studs in your face and tattoos across your neck and are up against an equally qualified candidate that appears "Clean Cut" the dude may very well be a scum bag, but he'll win because all they see is your adornments.
Being the mother of a teenage daughter these days, though, I WHOLE HEARTEDLY AGREE with HR lady. You can be a free spirit and you can be an individual without compromising your ability to make a good first impression.
So, to my baby girl, when you're 18 you'll be allowed to do whatever you want. And I will just have to hope that you heed my words and the words of the HR lady and, thus, you make a good decision. If so, we'll go see if CHRIS is still working at FANTASY TATTOO in ORANGE PARK on the corner of BLANDING AND LOCH RANE ACROSS THE STREET FROM ORANGE PARK HIGH SCHOOL and if he's there, then I will leave you in his highly skilled hands and you will be free to get whatever ink you want. But until you are 18 NO INK and NO GAUGING.
And that's my take on Tattoo decisions.
Here's the "free tip" about covering I promised. I once worked for a guy in a pretty small company, I saw him every day, for TWO YEARS and he had no idea I had any tattoos - I only had five back then - until someone told him. First of all, do an allergy test first, just like the makeup package says. Get yourself a Maxx Factor Pan Stick and slather that stuff on over the tat until you can just barely even see it anymore (it's gonna be pretty thick and the stuff isn't cheap but Maxx Factor is the kind that NEVER FAILS to work. You get what you pay for, I suppose). Okay, after you slather that on, feather out the edges so it's not just a big ass circle. Throw on a good dose of loose facial powder so it isn't sticky anymore. Now carefully put your hose on and NO ONE will ever know they are there. This works for me because yes, you will have to put hose on and if you constantly scratch at it or cross and uncross your legs all day long you may have to touch it up (it's makeup, don't you usually have to touch that up?) but if done right you can wear anything you want, even open toed shoes because they DO make hose with no toes, you know, and no one has to know you have them. Now...I wouldn't do this without hose because the makeup would wear off onto your clothes and you'd probably spend a fortune on dry cleaning bills...but for me this works. Getting the stuff OFF, is a trick in and of itself so here's the follow up: Get yourself some cheap ROLL ON deodorant. Old School style, wet ass, roll on deodorant with the roller ball (like Tussy or whatever's cheapest) and a big tub of cheap ass baby wipes to go with it. And grab some moisturizer while you're there. Okay, shake up the roll on and slather THAT all over the makeup until it starts to get wet. Use the baby wipes to wipe off. Repeat as necessary. Then moisturize. Deodorant has a tendency to dry the skin out.