Inking mad: the cult of celebrity tattoos

Inking mad: the cult of celebrity tattoos

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Inking mad: the cult of celebrity tattoos

As a Chilean striker inks a tattoo to commemorate his World Cup failure, be careful about mimicking popular tattoos

(From left) Cheryl Cole, Harry Styles and Pamela Anderson (From left) Cheryl Cole, Harry Styles and Pamela Anderson Photo: Rex/Getty Images

The World Cup has showered us with disappointments, spectacular fouls, and a dazzling array of tattoos .

Last week, Chilean striker Mauricio Pinilla tattooed an image of his missed goal on to his back, and Christiano Ronaldo has stood out for not having any body art — because he regularly donates blood, it turns out.

Tattooing is popular among footballers, with David Beckham, Jack Wilshere and Joleon Lescott proud of their body art

We notice body art among sports stars, who are more likely to strip off and reveal their tattoos than the rest of us, but tattoos are not only fashionable among footballers. An estimated 20m people in Britain boast a tattoo and there’s been an explosion in the number of tattoo parlours in the UK over the past decade. But before you rush out to tattoo your greatest failure or missed goal, take note of the number of people with regrets.

Tattoos may be thought of as a popular contemporary phenomenon, with historic links to criminals and sailors, but the truth is a lot more complicated.

And as celebrities set tattoo standards, don’t expect the associations to last as long as their careers. The shifting connotations of tattoos

Matt Lodder, a lecturer in History of Art at Essex University, says that tattooing is like any other aesthetic form, with trends and shifting connotations. “Tattoos always move away from trends because people don’t want the same tattoos as their parents,” he explains.A current British Museum exhibition, Ancient Lives, includes the body of a Sudanese villager from 700AD who had a monogram of the Archangel Michael tattooed on her inner thigh, and tattooing has been popular with aristocrats, ancient Egyptians and indigenous Japanese people as body art connotations shift […]