Peak Ink: Why tattoos have lost their exotic thrill

Peak Ink: Why tattoos have lost their exotic thrill

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Peak Ink: Why tattoos have lost their exotic thrill

Denise Balkissoon is a Toronto writer and the co-editor of the blog The Ethnic Aisle . She is on Twitter @balkissoon .

My husband, age almost-40, is hiding his tattoo from his parents. It’s not his first, but they hated the first three so much that he’s avoiding the tsk-tsks about the decoration now adorning his right shoulder. This amuses me. I can’t get inked myself because I have keloids, a tendency for skin to over-produce scar tissue. I like to imagine that makes me objective when considering the meaning of tattoos, and my sweetie-pie in-laws must be the very last people for whom they signify the seedy margins of society.

In the summer we see a lot more of our fellow citizens, in part because we leave the house more and in part because everyone wears less clothing. Every other bare limb in my vision seems to be tattooed. Bike couriers, office managers and stay-at-home moms are all equally likely to be tatted, and it’s a crapshoot as to which among them is displaying a naked lady, a red maple leaf or a cutesy-pie cupcake. Since I’ve never had a chance to contemplate tats (or piercings, or bum implants), I sit around judging whose body art is authentic, trendy, or just plain bad. I’m bored of cursive script, I’m iffy about reproductions of children’s drawings, and I’m enamoured of the dude who rides Toronto’s Queen streetcar decorated with Godzilla stomping out the Skydome (which has “Skydome” written on it) and attacking the CN Tower.

Once the permanent marker of an outlaw, tattoos are no longer illegal anywhere in North America. Removal, while costly, is an option. So it’s easy to say they’ve lost their cool, especially when pop-star brat Justin Bieber has apparently got at least 80 pieces, making him individually responsible for eliminating a good percentage of the practice’s renegade credibility.

Police officers are almost as likely to display serious ink as are criminals, and […]