When I was a little kid and saw a man with a tattoo, I knew he was one of two things: a bad dude or a veteran. It seems silly, but that was my honest perception. One thing is certain, though. Times have changed.
Tattoos are no longer reserved for tough guys. In fact, they are even common amongst the most domestic of soccer moms, albeit cutesy or floral.
Perhaps in response to the popularity of tattoos, the military community has taken body art to the next level. Gone are the days of the World War II soldiers’ “I Love Mom” tattoos.
Whether he chooses a homage to his unit or a meaningful phrase, the modern soldier prefers evocative ink. Many times, one tattoo is just the beginning of what will eventually be a collage. This hasn’t gone unnoticed. Such elaborate body art has also spurred tighter codes within branches.
These dress codes for soldiers are intended to cultivate a respectable and professional perception to outsiders. Although, some argue that such codes are far too restrictive.
This popularity and skepticism isn’t reserved for the enlisted. Many military spouses display tattoos proudly as a sign of commitment to their husbands. Nonetheless, they are also subject to judgment for “what” they put “where”; perhaps even more shrewdly.
Despite the debate, tattoos are still sought after and will likely remain a staple in the military community. “Because everyone else has one” is reason enough for buying a t-shirt, but getting a tattoo should never be done on a whim. So before committing to your first, second or third tattoo, consider these truths.
Tattoos are an outward expression, but you cannot control how others perceive them. Make sure that what you intend to express will be easily interpreted by others. Consider “where” you want the tattoo with this in mind.
Tattoos are an investment. Spend the extra time, energy and money and find a good, reputable tattoo artist that can create the design you love. Choose a design first, and save the money that it will cost to have it done. Tattoos should not be chosen like a value meal.
Tattoos are a commitment. Even more than an adopted pet, tattoos are decisions that are difficult to reverse. Be sure that the design you love today will be just as meaningful to you in twenty years. Don’t forget, tattoos also require maintenance. If you don’t have a tattoo touched up, it will fade into a dark smudge. Definitely not desirable.
Photo courtesy Britt Selvitelle
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