Tattoos are worse than bumper stickers. If you are in a mood and want to make a statement, get a damn t-shirt. A friend of mine sent me a link to a photo this morning of a guy sleeping with his head on a Boston terrier with a tattoo across his chest that says "FUCK OFF" in a sloppy outline font with the FU filled in. My friend says he plays bike polo with this guy, who is super nice. He hasn't asked him the story of the tattoo.
But clearly he wants to know. I assume my friend got to know FUCK OFF guy when he had his shirt on. Wouldn't it be hard to form a first impression of somebody as "super nice" if FUCK OFF is staring you in the face? If you have a tattoo people are going to ask you about it. And that's the thing that bugs me about tattoos. Once you get one, especially really visible ones, they define you. People look at that and put you in a category. Why bother to get to know you when they already presume to know what you're all about because it's WRITTEN right there on you.
I think people's personalities are so variable a tattoo puts too much emphasis on just one aspect of it. Some of my favorite people have one thing they do that I don't like particularly, but I know enough other stuff about them that I respect and appreciate that I just ignore the parts of their personality that I think are silly. Like my brilliant physicist friend who is so obsessed with his own penis he made a plaster cast of it and created a hard plastic gear shift lever in its exact likeness. Plus he lets people call him Dr. Doo Doo in public. This friend does have his navel pierced but he doesn't have any tattoos. And since he is a nudist I would know. As long as I don't need to borrow his car his little quirks don't confront me.
If I'm going to a job interview I wear something that makes me look professional. If I'm going to see my dad I wear something that makes me look conservative, if I'm going to see my mom I wear something edgier, if I'm going out with my younger friends I wear something with graphics on it. This is because I respect them. I want to show that I get who they are and understand what they value. My personality is pretty blatant. I can't really change the fact that I'm prone to curse and correct errors of fact all the time. But I can emphasize different aspects of myself outwardly through my appearance.
Tattoos just eliminate that option. I am very uncomfortable with that. People with tattoos are THAT sure who they are and who they want to be in EVERY SITUATION? FOREVER? How? What if they're wrong? Maybe people with tattoos never heard the Talking Heads song "Seen and Not Seen."
Maybe they thought their face was a mistake and their new tattoo would better suit their personality. Or maybe they imagined that their personality would be forced to change to fit the new tattoo. What if they made a mistake?
Or in the case of the fellow with only FU filled in for FUCK OFF, he may have gotten half-way there, and then changed his mind.