Peak Tattoo

A couple of years ago I read an article which said that we wouldn’t reach ‘peak tattoo‘ until 2025. In other words the trend for getting them is still growing.

When normal, middle-class people started getting three-inch long dragons on their shoulders, back in the early ’00s, I thought we’d peaked. When they started having huge Celtic-inspired designs across their chests in 2007, I thought we’d peaked. When pretty girls in floaty Laura Ashley dresses began appearing with tattoo “sleeves” covering both arms from shoulder to wrist, I gave up writes Alex Proud in The Telegraph.

That trend is also evident in Second Life, where many people now sport numerous tattoos, and of course naturist sims are the best place to display them.

I still don’t like them and don’t see myself ever having one. But I’ve been intrigued by the way in which many of my SL friends have gone from a clean, bronzed skin to tattoo-heavy (male and female alike) as the the whole process of inking spreads.

Like the real life models in Alex Proud’s article, it’s ‘middle class’ avatars and ‘pretty girls in floaty dresses’ avatars who’ve begun ‘inking’ in SL. When you converse with people in SL you find that it’s users are, very often, middle class, intelligent people. The way they will converse gives it away. They’re professionals, they’re educated. And they’re embracing tattoo culture in SL.

Wolfgang began life as a tattoo free avatar, although he had a penchant for genital (and nipple) piercings in SL as, apparently, he does in RL.

Many SL friends who thought as I do…no tattoos!…are now adorning their avatars for the alternative, Second life they wouldn’t contemplate in first life.

I’ve also got some SL friends (Charlene, above) who thought she’d never have a tattoo. But having worn one on her avatar for a long time (Avada, Fly Free tattoo L$125) she has eventually gone and got the same tattoo done, in the same place (her underboob) in real life!!!! :-O

Yes, people you wouldn’t envisage tattooing in real life are now getting inked, using their body as a canvas to tell their own story.

I still think many tattoos are awful, unimaginative and plain silly, but it’s evident to me that as tattooing grows in popularity people are often spending a lot of time thinking about the design and placement of their ink, and the quality, imagination and actual storytelling behind them does actually mean something to so many people. The days of just getting a ‘tramp stamp’ on a whim are over. I still won’t get one, but I’ver certainly warmed to the idea that people plan them carefully and with some thought, much more, these days.



2 thoughts on “Peak Tattoo

  1. Tattoos have very fashionable in NZ, especially with young men.Ethnic type designs in particular. Traditional Maori tattoos have also enjoyed a comeback.

  2. A few notes on te moko: The traditional Maori tattoo or te moko is technically not a tattoo, in the sense that the skin is cut by chiselling rather than punctured.
    Each moko was unique and served like a name. The complexity of the moko symbolised rank and status. Some patterns like spirals are universal. Besides the facial tattoo moko could also be found on the buttocks and legs to the knees.
    Maori men received their first tattoo at puberty about 12. This was an indication of sexual maturity. Additions made reflected their social position, genealogy, and personal achievements. A warrior with a full tattoo was held in great regard. A warrior without a tattoo was not accorded the same respect.
    There are traditional designs on the penises of ancestral figures which suggests that a chief would have a tattoo on the shaft of his penis. There is also evidence in the work of colonial ethnographers that those of high rank had their penis blackened without a design as such.
    The association with moko and warfare is well established. One of the advantages of fighting naked in warfare was that it enabled the display of body tattooing. It is worth noting that the display of moko had a phallic aspect quite central to this. Here was the triumphal display of his warriorhood, his person, his ancestry, his position, his strength and courage, the latter being symbolised by an erect penis.
    In women the traditional moko were on the chin (kauae) and lips. Other parts of the body with moko could include the forehead, neck, buttocks, thighs, and back. Genital moko were also known. With men moko could also be found on backs, stomachs and calves.
    In recent years with the revival of Maori culture and language, more Maori have moko, including facial moko and kauae. This had led to some pakeha (European) having moko, a very controversial practice. In the light of this development and the obvious fascination pakeha have towards moko, an alternative known as kirituhi has gained flavour, these are Maori inspired designs but without the consents, genealogical and historical connection associated with moko. In the last few weeks another example of pakeha having moko, in this case a woman with a chin moko, has been carried by the media generating further debate, The chin tattoo is considered particularly special by Maori women being of their ancestors. Modern moko are generally not chiselled. Public interest in moko has led to the touring of a collection of photographs held by Te Papa, the National Museum, of kuia (older women) with moko taken in 1970 by Marti Friedlander. Lower Hutt’s Dowse Art Museum in a 2010 photographic exhibitions of tattoo included a picture of a confident young Maori male with a modern buttock and upper leg moko. He was naked in the traditional way. He was also pictured with an erection, that also is accurate.

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