Artistic mental health warning label. Theodore Dalrymple sums up some of my views on the grotesque trend of “inking.”
This, perhaps, explains the outbreak of mass self-mutilation in the form of piercings and tattooing that has overtaken the West. In many countries, the proportion of the tattooed in the population has now risen to about a third. No doubt most of them, if asked, would say that they were expressing themselves, or telling the world who they really are. There could be no better—or in my opinion sadder—testimony to mass inner emptiness than this.
When I first noticed the ascent of tattooing up the social scale about twenty years ago—the type of people who were getting themselves tattooed who would once never have dreamed of doing so—I explained it as the advertisement of a supposedly virtuous political identification with the marginalized in society, to whom tattooing had until then largely been confined, no doubt combined with the eternal desire to shock Mum and Dad. But this theory, if it were ever true, can be true no longer. Self-mutilation is now a fashion, true enough, and perhaps one should not look too deeply for the vagaries of taste; but a fashion that marks you indelibly is more than a fashion for, say, a silly hat or a polo-neck sweater.
These days, Mum and Dad have probably beat the kids to the needle – Granny too. In a way I like it. A visible tattoo lets one know who and what one is dealing with. But, the sheer number says something about the decline of the people. A 2018 University of Miami study verified the obvious: tattoos are highly indicative of mental illness.
But, not yours… I’m sure yours is so very special. Go talk to yourself about that.