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I am tattooless and, therefore, a rebel

It doesn’t take more than a few minutes at the town pool or even, say, the patio at Cheesecake Factory on a summer afternoon to realize that most of the U.S. population is tattooed, many of them quite heavily. I sit on the edge of the pool watching the parade of people go by — every age, shape, size, style — and realize that what once seemed to be a sign of rebellion has become as common as bleached blonde hair. Turns out those of us who don’t have any ink on our skin are actually the rebels now. And that makes me smile. Because I’ve always wanted to be a rebel. Who knew it could be this easy?

Now, I don’t want to hear from the tattoo lobby. Yes, I know you have a tasteful tattoo. I have nothing against that. In fact, many people I know and love have tattoos. My brother rocks an amazing Sacred Heart tattoo on his upper arm, but he got that long before tattoos became all the rage. And there was probably a time in the 1980s when I might have been willing to go the tattoo route if only to be a little edgy and different, because back then only people in military service and rock bands had tattoos. But fear of disease was bigger than the need for rebellion, so I just opted for a few extra and odd-numbered piercings in my ears. Yeah, not the craziest wild woman on the block. But now I’m kind of glad there are no ink designs, hidden or obvious, anywhere on this body. I feel unusual, strong, and, yes, rebellious.

I can appreciate a beautiful tattoo, carefully placed. But, let me tell you, the bulk of what I’m seeing out there poolside are neither of those things. Kind of like someone let their toddler color on their arms with a Sharpie. And I just keep imagining what these tattoos are going to look like in 30 years when skin isn’t quite so elastic and smooth and that butterfly around your navel has stretch marks. (Sorry,  always looking forward, can’t help it.) And partly because I just feel like tattoos at the highest level are a shield or mask and not just an adornment. But maybe I’m missing something. I’m sure someone will enlighten me in the comment section.

So if you, too, are tattooless, put on your bathing suit today and go be a rebel.


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16 Comments Post a comment
  1. Maria Evans #

    Skin covered in tattoos makes me cringe. If it’s all over the body it looks to me like a horrible disease.

    July 17, 2013
    • Geoffrey #

      You are so right!!

      November 4, 2016
  2. Ellen #

    I see so many tattoos and they are so ugly. I have no tattoos and my ears are not pierced. I am really a rebel.

    July 17, 2013
  3. I am 29 and tattoo-less … and proud of it! I also share your forward thinking mentality and could never think of anything I’d want to be permanent and wrinkly when I’m 60, 70, 80 years old.

    Proud to be a rebel. Proud to be different.

    July 17, 2013
  4. Tattooed #

    There’s a common misconception that people get tattoos to be rebellious. Granted some people do it for that reason, but I’d say majority does not. I got mine because I like tattoos. Simply that. And the ones I have specifically express something about me. Maybe what I believe or what I do. I agree that people get some really stupid ink. They’ve lost the meaning behind real tattoos. But I’m willing to bet that if you ask most people about their tattoos, they’ll be happy to explain why they got them and what they mean. I know do. I think you’d find that most of them have a deeper meaning than rebellion or just to fit in.
    You have a really good point though. Most people have them it seems. And yes unfortunately there’s a lot of stupid ones.

    July 17, 2013
    • Mary DeTurris Poust #

      Thanks for responding here. I hear what you’re saying. Some tattoos are really beautiful, artistic, and I know that many have deep meaning for people. But these days it seems everyone is covered in kind of lame ink just to be covered. I guess I’m partial to what I consider more old-fashioned tattooing, separate tattoos with clear images or writing, and placed in a way that truly makes it body art. Do you think it could be because — and I’m assuming this — good tattoo art is expensive and so people now try to do it cheaply and so they’re not as good? Just curious if that’s a reason so many looking so awful. Again, thanks for being here and speaking up. I appreciate it! Peace.

      July 17, 2013
  5. Tashema #

    I have 2 tattoos. And they are in places that they can be hidden.
    Yes people take it upon themselves judge what I chose to do. But it
    Is not their business what I choose to do. I’m a rebel with
    Cause that happens to love my music symbols tattoos. Love the saying,
    “Don’t judge me cause I sin differently from you”. Because being a cradle
    Catholic I see a lot of wrongdoing of other Catholics but their issues
    Are not mine… Vice versa…
    Overall, love the column, I repost some of your blog because they are insightful.
    Stay Blessed

    July 18, 2013
    • Mary DeTurris Poust #

      No judgement here. I love that you’re a rebel with a cause. 🙂
      I just don’t get the modern phenomenon, people covered in tattoos that seem to be indistinguishable. Like I said, my brother has a beautiful Sacred Heart tattoo. (Side note: the priest who did my wedding actually blessed my brother’s tattoo at the wedding rehearsal. Very cool.)

      Thank you for commenting here. Thank you for sharing your story, and thank you for reposting things from this blog.
      Peace and blessings,

      July 18, 2013
  6. I was talking to a friend recently — she has two daughters, and lost her own mom a few years ago. She wants to get a tattoo of a garden that includes their three names. I’m not a tattoo person myself — I have zero interest in voluntary pain — but I thought that was very sweet. I can understand the desire to wear your love for your kids on your very body … that makes a certain kind of sense to me (in fact, I’ve often thought that my C-section scar is my equivalent of a tattoo!). 🙂

    July 18, 2013
    • Mary DeTurris Poust #

      I wish I could click “like” for this. 🙂 Yes, I totally understand that kind of tattoo. That makes sense to me. I guess I just don’t get the new phenomenon, where it seems everyone is covered in tattoos, most of them not very nice or clear or artistic.

      July 18, 2013

    What makes it even better is I am finally JUST reading it (work is totally getting in the way of my favorite blogs and I am going through my feedly account now) while I am doing research for my column tomorrow – again, about my quest for the perfect tattoo.

    I have linked THIS column in my own blog.

    You keep on rocking being the rebel with a cause that you are!

    July 28, 2013
    • Mary DeTurris Poust #


      July 28, 2013
  8. LisaT #

    There is a part of me that wants a tattoo…but I could never decide what to get and if it’s going to be a part of me for the rest of my life, I want to be POSITIVE that it’s what I want!
    There is also that voice in my head (my father’s voice actually) that says, “Get a tattoo – don’t come home.” And this was a man who was a sailor and had more than several tattoos!
    So I too, am tattoo-less!

    July 29, 2013
    • Mary DeTurris Poust #

      That’s a huge part of it. What would you want printed on your skin FOREVER? I don’t know if I could make that call.

      July 29, 2013
  9. paul #

    You speak for me!

    December 3, 2016
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