Tattoos--should they be meaningful?

I don’t have one myself so I don’t have much of a personal stake. But I’ve heard a lot of people say (like in the ongoing thread on Asian ones) that getting one in Sanskrit or a language that looks pretty is shallow or not a great reason. I know another girl in real life who got f-holes like the kind in a violin or viola on her back and another person said she thought that was lame because this girl had no connection to music at all–she didn’t play the violin or viola herself.

Do you feel that the tattoo should be meaningful and someone who picks a pretty or cute one is superficial? Or is it just about looking cute/nice?

I don’t think it’s anyone’s business by the person getting tattooed.

That said, I do judge people a little bit if they get a tattoo in a language they don’t speak or read. I think it’s kind of silly. Not at the level of “OH MY GOD, WHAT A MORON” but more like…well, “huh, kind of silly.” But, like I said, it’s not my business. No doubt those same people would find a lot of the things I like kind of silly as well.

I don’t think the Sanskrit one mentioned in the OP is a good example; it’s clear that it is, in fact, very meaningful to the person who has that tattooed.

Well I guess I didn’t mean that poster in particular…more the idea of people choosing Asian languages because they’re prettier or more exotic looking, which is something I’ve heard people complaining about.

It would have to be meaningful, for me, but that doesn’t mean it has to be for everyone. That said, I do think that if you wander into a tattoo shop thinking “Hmm… I feel like getting a tattoo, but I have no idea what I want. I’ll just pick something off the wall.”, then you’re probably doing it wrong.

Can’t speak for everyone, but for me, yes. Definitely. If I’m going to live with a piece of art on my body for my whole life, it will definitely have to have some deep-rooted personal meaning.

One question: the girl with the F-holes (God, that sounds smutty! LOL) - was she involved with photography? Man-Ray made the visual juxtiposition between a woman’s figure and a violin (or viola):

Man-Ray’s La Violon d’Ingres

Several times I’ve considered getting a tattoo of subtle tick marks running up the side of my index finger, spaced at quarter-inch intervals. That way, I can get a rough measurement of anything without pulling out a ruler.

But there seems to be a social convention requiring that tattoos have a deeper meaning, and not just be utilitarian. People who hear my idea think I’m crazy. I’m afraid that having such a socially unacceptable tattoo in such a visible place would lead to adverse consequences, so I haven’t done it.

If by involved with photography you mean willing to take off her clothes for what she considered to be “artsy porn,”…then…sure.

Agreed–I wouldn’t put anything permanently on my hide that didn’t mean a whole lot to me, but that’s just me. My tattoo artist does a holy hell of a lot of Tweety Birds, Tazmanian Devils, Pooh Bears, dolphins and roses.

Personally I think it’s stupid, I always figured experimenting with your clothes or hair or even piercing would be the way to go, if you needed some temporary rebellion or have a something like a passing fancy… but hey, if someone wants to walk around with a rose or a tribal thing above their butt crack for the rest of their life for no other reason than because they feel it enhances their personal aesthetics, that’s their choice. I would never tell someone I felt that way about their tattoos, of course, but I wouldn’t make that choice for myself.

All that having been said, kanji tattoos pretty much universally strike me as +100 for impulse-buy,

For me, yes. For everyone? Clearly not so much. If I’ve seen one eagle I’ve seen a hundred. Same goes for wolves and panthers, yet ‘looks’ is the sole reason in likely 99 cases of 100. This speaks great volumes, I think, about their personal style. I tend to equate the guy with the panther/eagle/wolf ink to also have a penchant for art on velvet. The tribal/asian/sanskrit thing is just the latest version.

Ha! Count me in for one “yes” vote :smiley: with the caveat that you check the measurements occasionally, hand tattoos are known to blur more rapidly than ink elsewhere.
Also, tick marks on your finger could potentially do double-duty in the realm of utilitarianism. Yours might look a bit like a molestache though, which would be a smidge less dashing.

The artistic association between stringed instruments and the human body is very old. Bruce Holsinger addresses this quite a bit in his book Music, the Body, and Desire. This motif has been used very erotically in the past. Even if she is unaware of this tradition, that does not necessarily make it any less effective. I don’t think it is completely crazy to get this tattoo even if you are not a musician if you at least know something about what your tattoo is signaling, especially if other people are going to see it.

It sounds like she already has a pretty good sense of what her body communicates to others.

I think language is a somewhat more mixed business since its meaning can be far less ambiguous and subject to interpretation. Imagine for a moment someone got himself tattooed with one of the Maxwell equations. I think this tells the world something very distinctive about how you want to be perceived (supposing for a second it isn’t just a physics test cheat). Imagine further if you get the equation wrong. This would suggest anyone who actually knows the material that there is a significant gap between your self-perception and the reality of your knowledge.

If you don’t care, fine. That doesn’t make it look any less foolish, and it does not mean that people will not judge you, probably rightfully.

There are people that get tattoos that they think are ‘cool’ and they are hoping that picking whatever they see on the wall at their local tat shop is going to win them cool points, or something.

And then, there are people that have their own sense of style, ideas, beliefs, and incorporate tattoos and piercings and hairstyles and certain dress styles into their overall sense of self-style. For them, they are probably going to pick tats that they mean something to their own philosophy.

Those that pick Mini Mouse because it’s cute, they have a right to that. But I can see how people roll their eyes when they see it. I don’t roll my eyes. I’m used to it. My sister has a set of cherries on her neck and a tweety bird on her arm.

Here is the problem of “judging” others’ ink. I do not have tattoos, and I probably never will, but if I did get one it would be a dolphin- which would be deeply meaningful to me.

Now that every 18 year old girl who wanted got a tattoo on a whim a few years back chose a dolphin makes it seem shallow and no one (but me) would appreciate what that means to me without explanation. Further, while I would never consider tattooing it, Tweety Bird is very meaningful symbol in my family (long story, but it has been for years…) and if one of my siblings chose to get a Tweety tat I would instantly recognize the meaningfulness but anyone else would write it off to an “impulse tat”.

To each his own; if you* think that “pretty” is enough to live with for the rest of your life and that’s what makes you happy, then more power to you. If you need the tat to be meaningful and/or sacred to you, then do that. But please don’t judge whether someone else’s is meaningful to them until you know the whole story.
*all “yous” are general

For everyone one person whose Tweety Bird I misjudge, there will be 999 whom I judge correctly. I am willing to take the chance.

We may know the same girl. She (the one I know) had them done because she “lets men play her like a 2 dollar fiddle” - there is meaning there but just to her and close friends.

I say its your skin; have at it. Don’t care if I understand it or even approve of the message; its none of my business.

This is a very good point and I would never tell anyone not to judge at all, because after all, that’s what we do!

The fact of the matter is that all tattoos are stupid to get* regardless of the meaning to the bearer, so whether it was an impulse “oooh pretty” tattoo or one that the bearer spent years pondering, creating and assigning meaning to is moot.

Really, to judge, correctly or not, the reason someone got a particular tat is an awfully arrogant thing to do.
*In someone’s opinion, not necessarily mine.

At first I had a mental image of a pair of vaginas tattooed on her back.

grind sideways on her back and press fingers in her neck?

What Maeglin said.

It’s kinda like naming a kid, I think. “Jaiydenn” might be a deeply meaningful name with much history in your family, but unless you want to spend the rest of your life clarifying the family connection and reason for choosing it, you’d just kinda have to accept that many people who hear or see it are going to make certain assumptions about your taste and originality. You just have to realize that and not care, because it’s meaningful to you. If you want a dolphin tattoo, then get one. I feel pretty safe in saying that my tattoos likely draw plenty of judgment, and there are lots of people who’d consider me a real idiot for having a large, purple platypus permanently plastered across my hide :D. I don’t mind.

To go back to the aesthetic discussion, there are a couple gorgeous tattoos in my tattoo artist’s portfolio which were purely done for aesthetic reasons–mostly intricate, exotic flowers. They’re beautiful, and I can certainly see why someone would want to decorate themselves with them, even without a meaningful personal connection with orchids or whatever.