Monday, May 22, 2006

A Letter of Dissatisfaction and Complaint.

Read this article:

I read this, trying to remain calm and trying to imagine whether, if I wasn't a young woman with a tattoo myself, I would agree with Melanie Reid on this subject. Then I felt moved to write the following email response:

To the Editor
Upon reading the article entitled "Pain, hurt and self-harm. And we call this art?" I was moved to write and express my considerable reaction to Melanie Reid's patronising and moralistic journalism.

To introduce the article with the statistic about more women being tattooed than men implies from the outset that Ms. Reid's difficultly is not so much with tattooes themselves, but with the fact that women are choosing to have them. For men it has been common practice for years, and while Ms. Reid may not agree with it, she perhaps acknoweldges that those who participate are making a choice. Now these statistics have come to light she cannot, it seems, simply sit by and watch while naive young women are drawn into this most loathsome of practices.

The implication that pervades this article is that this young generation of women are simply too credulous. They are led to think to be tattooed is "cool" and "fashionable" by those female celebrities who, sadly misguided themselves, are driven to this self-torture in the public eye. A whole generation of innocent, wide-eyed young girls being brainwashed by glossy magazines into mutilating themselves with "pretty little designs". When men were doing it, it was something not to be meddled with, but now that women are free to make decisions about what they do to their own bodies, they are making all manner of mistakes. They do not, and here Ms. Reid seems to feel a genuine sense of sadness for these poor, misguided females, fully understand what they're doing.

Her use of some sort of 'teen vernacular' ("It's cool and sexy, innit?") seem to imply that she perceives these tattooed women as being very young, when in fact the statistic upon which she bases her entire article does not specify the ages of these women. She has clearly decided to assume that these women are very young in order to be able to preach more successfully from her Mary Whitehouse-esque standpoint. She mentions that "more than 35,000 people a year are getting laser treatment to remove tattoos", but does not specify whether these people are male or female. The implication that women are the most at risk of being led blindly into this practice of self-mutilation rests upon the suggestion that more women have this surgery than men do, once their bodies, to their considerable shock, cease to be as lithe as they once were.

Of course there are theories that suggest links between body art and self-mutilation. There are those who suggest that wanting to alter one's body is symbolic of a need to alter oneself in a much deeper emotional way. Ms. Reid is saying nothing new by telling us what "psychologists believe". She is merely saying things that have been discussed in depth for years, but just in an incredibly patronising manner.

Which is it to be, Ms. Reid? Are we victims because we are following the fashions set out by the celebrities whose lives we so covet, or because we need to torture ourselves as a means of coping with the "vague, ubiquitous hurt of (our) emotionally damaged lives"?
It seems to me that the only thing we tattooed women are victims of is Ms Reid's misplaced moral judgement, and fearful worry that we will not be able to claim our place in the typing pool.

Try to sleep at night, Ms. Reid. Just as you are capable of making the choice to express yourself through ignorant postulation on subjects you clearly know very little about, we are capable of making the choice to express ourselves however we see fit.
Yours sincerely,

What I actually meant was Fuck You Ms Reid, but then I remembered that I am not a Daily Mail reader and have to use actual words.


Blogger Pub said...

Nice one Leonie. Show 'disgusted of Tunbridge Wells' that it's not only the Daily Mail brigade that can express themselves eloquently in a letter of opinion and that having a tattoo doesn't make you a brainless, fashion victim.

Although if you do ever meet her. Try to make sure you don't have any biro tattoo imprints on your face

5:12 pm

Anonymous Adrian said...

Well said. Jack had a similar take on it too.

I'm surprised she didn't go with the "women with tattoos are dirty" angle as that seems way more popular an argument these days. Although it's normally guys trying that one on. I guess if you are women the self harm angle is the only way to go.

Me, my position is well documented.

Still I guess if people can't have a go at other people for crap like this, it would mean they would have to get on a do some real journalism, which we all know takes actual work. Patronising people is far less effort.

7:50 pm

Blogger treespotter said...

wow, that really upsets you doesn't it? btw, can you recommend the place to get my first tattoo? i mean, as in where? (currently thinking arm, but that seems so cliche)

8:18 pm

Blogger Miss Devylish said...

Nice one! I'm with you.. I once had a woman look at my nose piercing and tell me usually it bothers her, but mine was so delicate, she wasn't offended by it at all. I kept my mouth shut cuz I was working retail at the time, but no one has the right to tell you what you should and shouldn't do w/ your body - as far as the art. Other things - helmet laws and abortion I won't even go into.. but these are tame and ppl have been doing them for centuries. Grr. Nice response tho!

10:42 pm

Blogger Miss Devylish said...

Here's the letter I wrote today:

Dear Ms. Reid ~

I'm not sure from what era you deem your judgement, but I think 1950 is calling for you and it would like its opinion back. The world is living in the year 2006 - where we, as in women - are allowed to do just about anything we set our poor misguided minds to - including 'defacing' our own bodies. I don't recall anyone telling me you get a say in that. Did I miss a memo?

Defacing is not what a tattoo is about anyway. Regardless of what you think, many of us find tattoos beautiful and though you are certainly allowed your opinion of disagreement, attempting to make the rest of us feel stupid with your condescension is hardly the thing most naive, young women need now is it? Encouragement, Ms. Reid.. not discouragement.

I didn't see much in your article based on fact either. Have you talked to Drew Barrymore recently? She doesn't exactly look sad to me.. or like her tattoo is what causes her to feel like she wants to drive cars off cliffs. You might want to check with her before you take her words out of context and use them in support of your slighted views.

For your information, most of us 'little girls' have solid minds of our own. We're allowed to go to get ourselves a handy education and we're even allowed to vote all by ourselves here in the states! I know it's hard to keep up with change, Ms. Reid, but do try. It's much more hip to keep your mind open these days. You might try it just once. Everyone is doing it.

I do agree that women are certainly plagued with self-image issues, but this is not news. Passing judgement on young women (because obviously they'd have to be young and easily mislead to be so foolish) for adding a flower or butterfly - or golly.. anything they damn well please, is out of line. Was it a slow news day for you? Did you just decide one morning to write out a list of things that offended you and women with tattoos just happened to top the list? Please.. I'm sure Angelina Jolie and Drew Barrymore sleep just fine at night whether you approve of their choices or not.. as will the rest of us.

Art has long been defined as something subjective, whether it be on canvas or skin, and, whether you deem it so or not, it's a symbol of individual expression. Individual means it's mine.. or yours, if you so choose. Something as harmless as ear piercing should fall under the same category. Do you not have yours pierced? I don't see you comparing women who get their ears pierced to oh, say.. tagging cattle. Now is it ok for you to have pierced ears but I should seek out psycho-therapy prior to walking into a tattoo parlour? Or is that different? What if ear piercing offends me?! Ooh.. the complications of your hypocrisy, Ms. Reid. Can you have it both ways? I think not.

The fact is, Ms. Reid, we are allowed choices in this fine millenium. You are allowed to disagree with them, but to voice them in such a judgmental and inaccurate way only opens you up to criticism of your poor journalistic tactics, not to mention your petty nature.

Find a real story by which to voice your opinion.. and maybe, a good hair stylist while you're at it. That Martha Stewart look is so last year.

Seattle, WA

11:58 pm

Blogger Ant said...

Here's the letter I would have wrote:

Dear Mizzy Mel,

Big it up for tats and dem nose fings - they is making dem birds look well fit. You is got it all wong, but you is telling it like you see it - respec for dat.

You is sounding a bit uptight Mel. I finks all you is needing is a good nobbing?


Mr G.
Staines, UK

6:47 am

Blogger lady miss marquise said...

Leonie - thank you. Thank you for saying fuck you so eloquently! I'll have to think of a reply, but it really pisses me off when someone stereotypes people with tattoes. My tattoes have never been a source of self harming, and I am tired of people pointing out the historical reference of my nose piercing.
I'm 31 and had my biggest tattoo done recently, I thought this through for a number of years. I am also highly employable (although, ummm... still looking) and well educated.
Would she care to interview any of us, instead of the celebrities well known for their mental instability?

7:21 am

Blogger Dancinfairy said...

Oh my god that woman is just so degrading about females with tattoos I could just spit. Has she ever heard of personal choice and free will? Stupid cow.

Great response, well written.

10:09 am

Blogger Curly said...

I read your letter and thought

"Hmm, I've got some more to add to that as I couldn't agree more"

Then I re-read it and noticed that you'd pretty much covered all that I had to say. Including the Fuck You part.

You'll have to write a less comprehensive letter next time so I can contribute, okay?

10:51 am

Anonymous galatea said...

well done you! I used to spend hours and hours debating this sort of thing with ignorant twats, back when I was young and pink-haired.

Now I look like a prematurely middle-aged wage slave, I don't get into these sorts of arguments nearly enough.

3:52 pm

Blogger Anne said...

Wow..of all the things to attack in this world she chooses daisies around ankles? Glad you wrote her. I think Im headed tot he tattoo parlor..I think its time for #4!

5:01 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't even understand why people get tatoos these days. I mean dare to be different - don't get one of these trendy, oooh let's get a tatoo then we'll really be cool. Don't forget to turn that baseball cap around and get some bling for around your neck homie. Christ, everyone's got one from the kid next door who got one in a mall to my 50 year old aunt who wanted to be "Oh I'm so bad aren't I". Get real people nobody gives a f*** about your tatoo except your "bad" self. I have nothing against anyone wanting to "express" themselves, well maybe I do, but using a tatoo is lame. Besides tatoos look fine on a twenty something. You get any older than that and you're looking at some pretty ugly and not so cool anymore body art.

6:37 pm


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