Beauty & Tats
Tattooing has been practiced across the globe since at least Neolithic times, as evidenced by mummified preserved skin, ancient art, and the archaeological record. Both ancient art and archaeological finds of possible tattoo tools suggest tattooing was practiced by the Upper Paleolithic period in Europe. However, direct evidence for tattooing on mummified human skin extends only to the 4th millennium BC. The oldest discovery of tattooed human skin to date is found on the body of Ötzi the Iceman, dating to between 3370 and 3100 BC. Other tattooed mummies have been recovered from at least 49 archaeological sites including locations in Greenland, Alaska, Siberia, Mongolia, western China, Egypt, Sudan, the Philippines, and the Andes. These include Amunet, Priestess of the Goddess Hathor from ancient Egypt (ca. 2134–1991 BC), multiple mummies from Siberia including the Pazyryk culture of Russia, and from several cultures throughout pre-Columbian South America.
Tattoos were originally conceived as a rite of passage or to indicate rank within a tribe. Over time, though, people began to get tattoos for cosmetic purposes, for memorial or spiritual reasons or as a permanent shopping list indicating the crucial significance of bread, milk and name brand—never store band—Rice Krispies. But no matter what the reason, where you place the tattoo can often say just as much as the tattoo it
Having your forearm inked is the perfect way to display your toughness, your strength and your need to hide your tattoo with a long-sleeve shirt when visiting mom and dad. It’s also the ideal way to show your emotional side in a manly manner, such as a tattoo of an angry teddy bear with two guns blazing, a halo and a message that reads “In Memory of Mr. Snuffles: That Washing Machine Took You Away Too Soon.”
Since it can practically be hidden in plain sight, the ankle tattoo may indicate a person who is seemingly demure but has a wild streak they only ever reveal at open bar weddings. The ankle tattoo is also the perfect way to deliver secret messages to cats, dogs, tiny elves or any other creature at foot eye-level who can somehow decode decorative vines, butterflies or barbed wire.
Due to the fact that everyone can see it, neck tattoos traditionally signify a person who is bold, risky and secretly hopes the Chinese character printed on their jugular means “serenity” and not “credenza.” When done properly it can look quite nice. But when done poorly it can look like you were attacked by a vampire who not only took away your mortality but also gave you hepatitis.
Routinely dismissed as a “tramp stamp,” a lower back tattoo can signify mystery, sexual allure, coyness or a complete inability to realize that you asked some castoff from the “Sons of Anarchy” to jab you with a needle RIGHT ON YOUR FREAKIN’ SPINE. On the other hand, the lower back does provide a far more attractive canvas than the stomach, where every tattoo would have to incorporate the navel as a shallow tunnel, a small black hole or a very large period at the end of a sentence.
Because of its proximity to the heart, a chest tattoo is usually a symbol of love, a sign of devotion and a means of providing a sneak preview when wearing V-necks. Depending on the design, such a tattoo can either be a very private way of showing your undying affection to that special someone or very public way of telling everyone on the beach that your Superman thanks to a giant red “S” that’s only partially obscured by graying chest hair and a pacemaker scar.
A face tattoo indicates that no matter how much you promised your mom and dad, you’re never really going to write that job resume. Or post that dating profile on eHarmony. Or do much of anything aside from scare villagers and be chased with pitchforks. But more importantly, a face tattoo lets you defiantly exclaim to both the world and your recoiling loved ones, “I don’t subscribe to society’s rules, I won’t listen to The Man and I shouldn’t have made any life-altering, irreversible cosmetic decisions until I was at least 30 and knew better.”
In short, covering your entire body in tattoos is just your way of saying, “One day Professor Xavier will open his X-Men school and I will be the first in line to enroll, hoping to dear God that he doesn’t ask me to prove that I have any superpowers outside of being able to sit in a tattoo parlor chair for upwards of 117 hours.”
Send us a picture of your tattoo and let us know what you think of tattoos and where they are located in the comments!