Art: Just What is the Big Attraction?
Dr. John E. Bonfadini, Ed.D.
Emeritus, George Mason University
The mother turns to her daughter and
says, ďWouldnít you rather have a tattoo?Ē The child wanted a cell
phone in the commercial, but mom thought it was better that she get some
Iíve been pondering how to present
this topic. At first I thought I knew exactly how I felt about the
explosion in body graffiti, more commonly called tattooing. Just donít
do it! In my younger life tattoos were mostly found on sailors or bikers.
In the old days women wore jewelry, men the tattoos.
Seldom did one see a mom with artwork on her body.
When I began to consider writing about
this subject, I noticed quite a few moms and dads had chosen to get
tattooed. I began to wonder if my conservative view was outdated. Have I
become an old fogey ... just out of touch with the real world? My children
and grandkids have often said that sometimes I donít live in the real
I watched a program on the Discovery
Channel that showed how tattooing is a part of many cultures and is
accepted as a form of body art. At the beach I couldnít help but notice
the number of tattoos on the backs of many of the swimmers ... and not all
were young. Somewhere along the line, I guess I missed this trend of
needing to place something so permanent on your body.
Iíve also noticed that most of the
NBA players apparently think that more body markings will help them be
better players. Why else would they overindulge in having their bodies
painted for life? Many football players have tattooed arm bands. Maybe it
helps them not fumble the ball. The carnival sideshowís tattooed lady is
probably now unemployed. There must be some reason for all the body
graffiti. I just havenít figured it out. Maybe you can help me
understand why our society has such a need to get a tattoo, because if
Iím that out of touch with the real world, Grandma and I need to get one
right away. The tattoo artist would probably have a difficult time Ö too
many body wrinkles.
The tattooing kind of goes
hand-in-hand with body piercing. Many adults have found a need to hang
jewelry on areas of the body beyond the ears. Maybe we just have an excess
of diamonds and need some place to show them off, but I really have a hard
time accepting a diamond-studded belly button. In fact, I think we are
overexposing the belly button and other parts of the anatomy. A nose ring?
I thought those were for bulls. Can you really eat with a bolt through
What do adults do when they no longer
want to wear symbols from the past on their bodies? With the present
divorce rate, I donít think anyone should get a tattoo of a partnerís
name. Stick to ďLove You Mom.Ē
And what do you do when your teenager
notices your special markings and wants some of his or her own? Get a cell
phone instead? I hope parents realize that there are sufficient
distractions in our schools and that body markings and piercings do little
to enhance the educational environment.
God gave us this wonderful thing
called the human body, which includes a brain with the ability to think. I
believe we have a responsibility to protect the integrity of the
creatorís work. If God wanted our arms to look like wallpaper he would
have made us that way, so letís respect his design.
Future opportunities to change our
bodies with plastic surgery, dental work, and evolving biotechnology will
require us to use far more intellect than that required in deciding where
to place a tattoo. As we gain the knowledge to grow and transplant body
parts, the practical and ethical consequences will be far more serious
than those associated with tattooing or body piercing. Like most things in
life, the answer is in the details. Respect for human beings starts with
respecting the small things in life and the big stuff will usually follow.
Iíve seen society overreact to
things such as hair styles, women wearing pants suits, and menís facial
hair. A beard or mustache wasnít accepted when I was recruiting and
hiring teachers. I was wondering if officers of the law are permitted to
get tattooed. I donít want to overreact to the body-decorating trend so
Iím asking what you think.
I realize that many who read this
column will have a tattoo and your own opinion on the subject.
I donít expect governing bodies to pass legislation to regulate
nose rings or tattoos, but Iíll bet that big battles lie on the horizon
when society begins to discuss growing body parts. We already are in a
major discussion on stem-cell research, but for now letís just reply to
the body art. I always look forward to your responses.
there are at least two sides to every issue. Do you have a different
view? This column is meant to provoke thought, so keep sending
comments. Each one is read with the utmost interest. Send e-mail to: email@example.com,
or send written responses to the editor. Mail will be forwarded
to the author.