Friday, 24 October 2008

It's going to look like YOUR FACE.

Hey, real people have been commenting on this here thing. And I hadn't noticed. Ahoy there.

And I got my first insulting anonymous comment a few posts back, w00t.

Anyway, I has mostly been... worrying, because my marks this term have to be decent. And wondering if I ought to improve my idiosyncratic French, because I have just got to go and study some Upper Palaeolithic cave art in the flesh... paint... at some point.

Anyway, my rant of the day. I'm aware that we're having a global economic recession, sorry, "downturn" and that there are bigger issues out there, but this is my blog.

People who meet a tattooed individual, then trot out the cliche: "What's that going to look like when you're 80?"

Now, that doesn't annoy me because I've got tattoos. Nor does it annoy me on the behalf of others who do. The general response is a lighthearted "Fuck off, when I'm 80 I'll probably be in a wheelchair or dead; if a blobby tattoo is my biggest worry, my whole life is gonna be one giant party."

Of course, I'd say the same - but the topic, in all seriousness, is upsetting. I'm insulted, on the behalf of every 80-year-old in the country who finds themselves with another new physical disability every day, and every 80-year-old in the country who is in constant, debilitating pain.

The people asking that question are never, ever elderly themselves. And they're able-bodied enough to wander the streets being rude to people. They've never, ever considered what life might be like for the very old - they prefer to make jokes about their possible appearance.

Here's a classic case - my own grandfather, though something similar will happen to every one of us:

My grandfather can't walk any more. Because he had to have one leg amputated, an operation that had to happen under local anaesthetic, because a general anaesthetic would have killed him (yes, I realise that many women have caesarean sections under local - and that's just another type of bodily trauma that these appearance-obsessed people, who seem never to have encountered it, can ignore). He's blind in one eye, but has to lie with the working eye facing the wall because the appropriate side of his body gets too painful (he can't sit for long, for the same reason). He can't wash or dress himself, and has to use a catheter. Imagine how dignified that must make him feel.

So... in answer?

AWFUL. It's going to look awful. So, because tattoos start fading from the very beginning, I'm going to hide in a hole for the rest of my life, because my precious, precious looks are irreversibly damaged - because unattractive things and people shouldn't be seen in public. And when you're 80, and you still meet every stupid standard of beauty in the world and are also perfectly physically fit, because that seems to be what you're expecting, you can drop by my hermit-cave and laugh at me.

Edit: That's odd: I was thinking about tattoos and unconscious ageism, and don't have time to rant about the sexist vitriol directed at tattooed women - an awesome blogger read my mind and wrote one for me, today.


Daphne said...

But all your tattoos have been considered decisions, and are works of art. The tattoos that worry me are those where people decide to have one done on a night out, or for a bet. Still, I suppose when they're eighty at least they'll have something to remember even if it's "what an idiot I was".

Battybattybats said...

Great points on ageism!

And beautyism/imagism too.

Enjoy your tattoos.

Better to have old people with faded tats than old people who spent their lives fitting in with others views and never living life for themselves!

Kim said...

This is a GREAT post. I love your comeback ""Fuck off, when I'm 80 I'll probably be in a wheelchair or dead; if a blobby tattoo is my biggest worry, my whole life is gonna be one giant party."

And your whole second to last paragraph is dead-on.
I'm linking you -- let me know if that's not okay.

Oliver A. FP said...

Kim - of course! It's odd that proper bloggers are reading this (well I know my mum does, and she's a proper blogger, but somehow that fails to count :-D)

I could have realised earlier that I get more "your tattoos are DESTROYING YOUR LOOKS!1111" type comments because I'm female (and a woman's worth is *obviously* entirely determined by her looks...)

But I'm a guy. I only just remembered that I'm technically female-bodied. I just thought it was because I'm a small, skinny guy who is incapable of kicking the shit out of rude people.


Trans man not noticing sexism? Epic, epic fail.

little light said...

"Proper" bloggers do read this.
I just got my first ink last week, so this was an interesting read for me--and good for what I've been processing lately about bodily autonomy, body-mod and transition as a constellation of concepts. I put off the tattoo I wanted for four years, making sure I "really" wanted it, and a lot of my fears echoed the fears I had about modifying my body in other socially-unacceptable ways. I was definitely raised to believe that body-mods were shameful and dirty and morally questionable, and it's been an interesting journey to move past that notion of owing your body's constructed "naturalness" to society, somehow.

Are you by any chance the fellow who e-mailed me a while back about a tattoo? How did that turn out?

Battybattybats said...

'Bodily autonomy' is a good phrase but I prefer to call it

Somatic Sovereignty.

I find it has a better ring to it and Sovereignty suggests more to me that we can do whatever the heck we want with our bodies because we are the indisputable tyrants of them answerable to none.

Autonomy just sugests personal independance, Sovereignty declares total and utter and undiluted power over the self.

At least for me anyway :)