I am a tattoo virgin.
There is still much that I have to learn about tattoos, but I’m gathering information and learning new things each day.
I’m a Philadelphia sports fan. Nothing gets under my skin (get it?) more than someone who barely knows anything about football who asks me how many Super Bowls the Eagles have won. Ha, yes, that’s funny. Tell me, what’s a pick six? Didn’t think so.
I’m venturing into this new territory carefully. Never would I want to be the person who clearly lacks knowledge about tattoos who inadvertently comes across as a snarky headache. There is a wonderful possibility that my findings below are the equivalent of someone saying, “Hey! There are nine innings in baseball!” Even if that is the case, I am happy about what I have learned and look forward to grasping even more knowledge.
Having established that tattoos are a new domain for me (other than looking at one and thinking, Ohhhh, that’s pretty!), there are certain aspects that I have learned. They are:
According to Ink: The Not-Just-Skin-Deep Guide to Getting a Tattoo, by Terisa Green, as soon as the skin gets penetrated with pigment, the body does everything it can to rid itself of that pigment. This, of course, makes sense because it is a foreign item entering the body. That bit of information made me realize how complicated getting a tattoo can be in that your body is trying to fight off the very thing the bearer is trying to keep. Still, it reminds me of how fascinating the body is at self-healing and self-cleansing.
Much in the same, I learned that the actual pigment passes through the epidermis and eventually resides permanently in the dermis. Green offers a “Goldilocks” method for this: “So, like Goldilocks, you don’t want it too shallow and you don’t want it too deep. You want it just right” (84). Being a novice, I appreciated the elementary analogy. The precision required here indicates how nervous I might be
if ever in the chair, seeing as I eye my hairdresser like a hawk when she’s trimming my bangs.
Embarrassing as it is to say, I learned…that a hockey game has three periods. No. I knew that. But, I learned that UV rays are damaging to a tattoo. (Stop laughing!) I had no idea how many precautions those with tattoos must adopt when venturing out to the beach or out for a run when the sun is out. If UV rays are dangerous to skin, why wouldn’t they be dangerous to a tattoo? Trying to keep a tattoo out of the sun as much as possible reveals a new respect I have for people with them. It takes a lot of responsibility for tattoos to remain vibrant and bright.
I also learned that people could become allergic to their tattoo ink and that the most common colors to be allergic to are red and yellow. In certain cases, ointments may be enough, but I was shocked to see that some people (though rarely) have to get their tattoo removed because of an allergy of the ink.
5 Odds and Ends Facts about Tattoos
2. On April 12-13, 2003, Chris Goodwill tattooed Kevin Budden for a record-breaking 33 hours at the Electric Pencil Tattoo Studio in Plumstead, Greater London, UK. Goodwill tattooed eight designs on Budden. (Green 142).
3. Wanting to sound like an artist and not a plumber, Sutherland Macdonald, a British tattooist, used the word “tattooist” over “tattooer” (Green 117).
4. Sailors would commonly get a cross tattooed on their back in order to avoid being flogged (Green 28).
5. According to NBA Tattoos, 56% of NBA players are tattooed.
Despite the fact that I may have stated the obvious for some, the information is new to me, and I appreciate having learned it. Tattoos continue to intrigue me, and this tattoo virgin is excited to continue learning more about them.
As a final thought, according to Green, the indigenous Yurok of Northern California had a saying that a woman without a tattoo looked like a man when she grew old. So there you have it—I look forward to the aging process.
Green, Terisa. Ink: The Not-just-skin-deep Guide to Getting a Tattoo. New York: New American Library, 2005. Print.