OFFBEAT: Tat's all folks

By CORY FROLIK Former Register Huron County reporter Back when Delonte West still played for the Boston Celtics, several fans started a Facebook page to raise money to help pay for West's tattoo removal surgery. The page's creator suggested everyone chip in $2 to go toward the surgery, which he estimated would cost about $2,000.
Commentary
May 20, 2010

 

By CORY FROLIK

Former Register Huron County reporter

Back when Delonte West still played for the Boston Celtics, several fans started a Facebook page to raise money to help pay for West's tattoo removal surgery.

The page's creator suggested everyone chip in $2 to go toward the surgery, which he estimated would cost about $2,000.

The page never took off, but the playful Boston fans rejoiced when West and his neck tattoo were traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Problem solved, they said.

Good for them, but bad for those of us who watch the Cavs.

West's neck tattoo is a pain in my neck that aches every time I sidle up to the bar and ask the bartender to switch on the NBA playoffs.

I'm thinking about sending the collection plate around to finally raise the money necessary to erase that eyesore.

Let's set the record straight: I have nothing against body art.

Many tats are colorful, creative, intensely personal and expressions of some greater truth about the person.

A friend from high school has a tattoo on his chest of the date he got sober, which I agree is a good thing to commemorate.

I, myself, have a little ink here and there on my torso.

But then there are tattoos like the one on West's neck, which are ugly, distracting and ill-placed.

West's tattoo is allegedly of a sideways cross, which I can respect as way to honor his faith, but did it really need to be on his neck?

I don't think there's anything in the Bible that demands followers of the Christian faith get tattoos. Nor does it specify where on the body those tattoos would best be located.

What would Jesus do? Not get a neck tattoo.

To be sure, not all neck tattoos are eyesores, but many are.

What's more, many are liabilities.

According to a report by the Pew Research Center, about 40 percent of people 18 to 29 have tattoos.

About half those with ink have two to five tattoos. About 20 percent have six or more.

But here's the thing: Only about 28 percent of people with tattoos have ink that's visible when they are clothed.

It's clear most people decide their tattoos should be a private source of enjoyment, not one they need to share with the world.

This makes sense, because although tattoos are more culturally accepted than they've ever been in the past, getting one can still have downsides, especially when it comes to the job hunt.

I doubt there's many lawyers, doctors, accountants, school teachers and Wall Street insiders who have a big sideways anything etched on their necks.

This is because what's acceptable in the NBA is not always acceptable in other careers.

But the problem is celebrities and sports stars help shape the image of what's hip, possibly explaining why I can't go to the Sandusky Mall without spotting at least a few neck tattoos.

Just recently, I saw a guy wandering the mall with a marijuana leaf on the left side of his neck.

On the plus side, at least he's saving employers the cost of a drug test.

Katie Bellamy, Job Store assistant in Norwalk, said she urges people with tattoos to try to cover them up before job interviews.

It's such a competitive labor market, employers can afford to be choosy and hire only the most presentable and impressive of candidates.

Places with dress codes probably also have expectations about their employees hiding their body art.

"If you are interviewing for a fast food position, having a tattoo may not be that bad," Bellamy said. "But if you are interviewing for an office job, you don't want to show tattoos up and down your arm, because they might get the wrong idea."

Long sleeves can cover up arms covered in ink, but covering up tattoos on places like the neck is much trickier.

"What are you going to do then?" Bellamy said. "You can't wear a turtleneck in the middle of summer."

Tattoo removal surgery is always an option, but it's not cheap -- often costing many times what the tattoo cost.

Still, for some people (like West and anyone who decided to get a marijuana leaf on their neck) it's probably the right decision.

A 2004 study by the American Academy of Dermatology found that about 17 percent of people with tattoos considered getting theirs removed.

Many people don't realize their tastes will change over time and a decision made on a whim can prove detrimental down the line.

Yeah, that finger-mustache tattoo might seem brilliant and hilarious today, but your opinion of it likely change given time (Example: Try watching the so-called "genius" re-runs of "Gilligan's Island" and notice how much you don't laugh).

Finger mustaches, by the way, are tattoos of mustaches people get on their fingers, which they then bring to their upper lip.

When I heard about this trend, I laughed so hard I think I pulled a muscle.

Even so, the luster's faded in the intervening months.

A man in Pittsburgh has a tattoo on his stomach of the words "Thug Life" in old English lettering, with a picture of a unicorn right above it.

Of all the things that can be said about that, I'll just say this: At least he had the sense to get the tattoo on his stomach and not on his neck.