This is our truth, tell us yours
Tattoos are a very personal way of communicating. They let us publicize an image, a idea of ourselves, or something that matters to us to whoever we choose to allow to see the tattoo.
They’re a very limited form of communication though. They don’t necessarily have a deep and structured text, and they’re open to interpretation.
On one level tattoos are individual logos, representations of our personal brand values, but like the logo on your local taxi service’s business card, are they the product of a careful, thoughtful process of defining brand values, or just a whim selected from the Vistaprint ‘100 business cards’ for £2.99 range?
It’s easy to slip into a sneering style about other people’s tattoos. However, to return to the logo analogy, has anyone ever judged a taxi service by the logo on its business cards, as opposed, to, say, whether they turn up on time? I’d hazard a guess that judging a taxi firm by how much it spends on its advertising isn’t the most reliable set of criteria.
Oddly, the topic of judging behaviours and values, not images, is one dog owners are used to. My dog is small, and has the look of a good humoured lapdog. He’s also ferociously territorial, and protective of me as his primary carer. If you see him, he’s a teddy bear -if you watch his behaviour you’ll see that he’ll happily pick a fight with a dog five times his weight if intrudes into his space or comes to close to me. His ferocity can be surprising to those who don’t watch for the visual cues that say he is unhappy, or who dismiss the throaty grumbles as cute little noises from a cute little dog.
One of my favourite rants at the moment is the one I do about Apple technology any time I’m provoked. If logos and brand names are supposed to tell you what a company values, what does the Apple logo tell you? The answer of course is that, like the swoosh on a Coca Cola can, the Apple logo needs only to remind you that you’re looking at an Apple product, and you’re expected to summon up for yourself the Apple corporate narrative – that their kit is cool, and easy to use, and seductive, and high quality.
Too often, when we see the cute dolphin on someone’s shoulder, or the flowers and stars on their foot, we’re not seeing them as individuals, but summoning up a narrative someone else has shaped about people who have tattoos like that. If you don’t believe me, google swallow tattoos. Those varied and conflicting narratives can only serve to obscure the individuals who actually have the tattoos.
Communication must be about going beyond the visual cues, beyond the things we think we know the meanings of, and onto the level of listening, of asking and understanding.
Par of the genesis f this blog was the Wicked Wednesday prompt about communication.We’re overdue a sex blog here from me, so here’s a little bit of a sex tip. If you think you know what a certain item of clothing signifies,or means, you will almost certainly be wrong at some stage, and that will be your fault and yours alone.
My tattoos are all about me; if you want to know what they mean, ask me.