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.