Done by Ralph at Addicted to Ink in White Plains, NY
When we think about rockabilly guys and gals, we usually immediately think tattoos. Rockabilly is almost a parody of 50s culture, mixing it with the edgy, rebellious fashion of today. But is it necessary to have tattoos if you're into rockabilly? The easy answer is...absolutely not!
One thing I love about rockabilly culture is that it's so artistic. The fashion itself is a creative way of expressing oneself: the love of a simpler time, or cuter clothing, or better music. Tattoos, it seems, are just an extension of this. There are no rules when it comes to rockabilly fashion. When someone is tattooed she can still dress as a conservative 50's housewife; she is not considered to be "unclean." Remember that modern rockabilly and pinup culture do not solely embrace the wholesome images and ideals that they are inspired by.
But there is something that interests me about tattoos in modeling, especially pin up modeling. Some believe that modern pinup girls without tattoos are just missing something, it seems to go with the image. "Alternative" models are often considered a fetish, meaning that they are beyond the "norm." Therefore, all I have to do to be considered an "alternative" model is to get a tattoo...or can I be considered nothing but an alternative model since I do have a tattoo? And is this really a fair label? Does that mean that the "average" guy (or gal) has to have a fetish in order to like an inked lady? I suppose that if you're into this kind of fashion, society doesn't consider you to be average anyways (and thank goodness).
This all goes with the stigma of being tattooed. Despite the fact that at least half of the population has at least one, if you are included in this group, you are "alternative." And forget reading articles about tattoos: it seems they absolutely must mention that "most" people who get them later regret them and get them removed. I'd really have to argue this point. I think that nowadays, people are putting a lot of thought into what they want permanently inked on their bodies. Perhaps these people might have a lifestyle change and find it necessary to have the tattoo removed, but to say that "most people regret" getting them helps to perpetuate the stereotypes that go along with them.
Of course, getting inked is not something I freely encourage. If you are a blank canvas and are considering a tattoo, I strongly urge you to find something you are attached to, that has meaning to you, as it will be on your body forever. Though I don't see anything wrong with someone getting a tattoo just because they like the design, I feel as though a lack of meaning is more likely to lead to regret when your personality and interests change. You also have to consider the future and how having visible ink may effect your chances (even though not getting a job because you are tattooed is blatant discrimination). Mine was also strategically placed: it's easy to hide when necessary.
Above is one of Lady Gaga's many tattoos. I decided to put it in here not only because I idolize the woman, but because it's so aesthetically beautiful and its meaning is so deep to her. It is a quote from Ranier Maria Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet. In German, it reads, "In the deepest hour of the night, confess to yourself that you would die if you were forbidden to write. And look deep into your heart where it spreads its roots, the answer, and ask yourself, must I write?"
I guess what it comes down to is how far you're willing to go to express yourself. Are you willing to sacrifice being "normal?" Are you willing to endure judgment and criticism? Do you have enough nerve and confidence to artistically express yourself this way?
One of my favorite quotes about tattoos comes from the forefather of traditional American ink: Norman Keith Collins, a.k.a. "Sailor Jerry."
Thank you! It seems to really sum up how I feel about people with tattoos and the criticism they face. We don't want to hear your rude comments (because we don't care), but please, if you like what you see, tell us. To me, when someone tells me that my tattoo is beautiful, it's like they're acknowledging its deep meaning or complimenting my eyes or my hair. It's a great feeling!
I'd also like to announce through this article that I will be doing a twice-a-month feature about tattoos. I absolutely LOVE hearing about the meaning behind them, so if you're inked or know anyone who is and would like to be featured in this blog, e-mail me a picture of the tattoo (with the name of the artist and the shop where you were inked if possible) and the story that goes with it: saydolly(at)gmail(dot)com