WTF is up with BBCs anti-tattoo propaganda?


I was just reading some news and encountered this big, elaborate piece there:

…and it is not the first time. Every few weeks they seem to have an article or two which are vaguely critical of body art. I say “vaguely” because they sort of shame-wag their literary finger at it without ever explaining why. But there does seem to be an agenda behind this is obvious to me. It is always about bills or busts which will “protect” people from the temptation of “permanently disfiguring themselves” out a desire to be perceived as cool despite their deep personal insecurities. Or tales of regret. According to the BBC, nobody ever actually likes their own body art, or that of others.

So what is the deal? Is it a UK thing? A BBC thing? Having lived in the NY/NE area of the US for most of my years I cannot at all relate to it. The only people I ever hear complain about tattoos tend to be stuffy 60-90 year-olds. I have one old relative who complained about tattoos on “professional” people, but that turned out to be some poorly thought-out ethnocentric argument which deflated instantly.

What have your experiences in the UK or elsewhere been? Do you have or have you encountered any thoughtful criticisms of the practice of body art and mods such as tattoos? Do people benefit from complaining about other people’s skin besides the opportunity to be snobby about something which doesn’t concern them?


Overall I take the BBC with a grain of salt. Too many topics where they make no sense at all.


While I am from the western US and have never been across the pond, I do have multiple tattoos. The one I am most ambivalent about is a hammer and sickle inside a laurel wreath. This is mostly due to historical/political reasons as opposed to aesthetic ones. I have come to refer to my tattoos as “badges of my stupidity” more in the hopes of avoiding further questions rather than have an introspective conversation with a stranger about my world view as a young adult. It’s my understanding that tattoos have largely been a practice historically reserved for fringe elements since heterogeneous civilization took over tribalism. The only societies I know of that practice body modification as a norm are tribal ones. The BBC likely sees itself as doing everyone a solid and helping confused young folks get ahead in the world. I think the only benefit perceived by one complaining or otherwise noting the skin or body art of another is the sense of relief they feel when this information places that person into a category they have designated as one they do not have to think about or empathize with.


It’s said that tattoos are so popular now because it’s easier for a doctor to prescribe you anti-depressants if you have a map of your mistakes and regrets on you at all times.


Isn’t that just a body though?


Indeed; is not every scar, bruise and bump a physical testament to one’s missteps?


I am heavily tattooed as I tell people that ask me about tattoo regrets. If at the end of my life if my tattoos are my biggest or only regret I have had a spectacular life. 15 years of tattoos and I have no tattoo regrets.

The BBC is just reporting a downside to a current fashion trend. To me the interesting story is the regret post impulsive decisions. That’s not limited to tattoos.


Speaking for myself, at least the scars hint at some exciting times. It’s all the flabby bits that indicate poor life choices.


Fair point.


Scars and flab can merely indicate clumsiness or a job with a lack of exercise. Tattoos indicate much more.

As the saying goes, “Marry a girl with piercings and tattoos, because she’s already shown a willingness to live with her mistakes for the rest of her life.”


I have my fair share of acreage, plenty of scars and can now even pinch an inch – and I’m 100% A-OK with my life choices, bad ones included.

I once explained it to a Mormon as: My body is also temple - it’s just that my parishioners like to party and write on the walls.

That said, I’d have to agree with the BBC’s notion that impulsively tattooing a flings name on you rarely ends well. I’d consider that sage advice, not snobbery.


#inkFREE by choice


That’s a saying? Hmm. I learn something new everyday. Thanks, BoingBoing commentators!


People in the U.S. are still plenty judgmental about tattoos, to an almost comical degree . . . I mean, they’ve been getting more popular all the time for decades, sometimes it seems that more people have them than not (my 71-year-old mother has more than I do, to my shame), maybe it’s time to get over it, but no. Check out the comments on any article anywhere about tattoos.


If it isn’t, it certainly should be.


They are at it again! Not strictly speaking anti-tattoo, but lots of nontroversy about whether or not people should be discriminated against for having them.

"Should your tattoo be on your CV?"

"Tattoos shouldn’t be a barrier to hiring, says employer advice group"

"Lift police visible tattoo bans, says federation"

"Tattooed man ‘moved out of public view in former job’"


The English are not supposed to get tattoos because then the French will know we can bleed.


I don’t know what you define as heterogeneous civilization. If you consider ancient egypt civilized your understanding is wrong. Priestesses, and other members of the higher social strata, were apparently tattooed. -> Fig. 1. (unfortunately in french)

It’s a description of a mummy identified as Amunet, priestess of Hathor.

If you’re interested in further information send me a message.


It’s a British social conservative thing. It probably has it’s roots in the biblical law forbidding tattoos.


When I was younger, it seemed like tattoos always had a meaning, usually military or prison. Now it seems like everybody has them, and they all look the same. I wouldn’t consider myself judgmental about tattoos, but I’m certainly judgmental about vapid, meaningless tattoos that indicate conformity more than they indicate individuality.