Body Art

My mother taught me to stay clean and comb my hair. Other than that I grew up with no concerns about my appearance. Even today if my hair sticks up I don’t really care as long as I get my morning shower. This explains the paint stains on my clothes and the occasional turned in collar. It is from this odd perspective that I notice other people’s appearances—particularly what they do to their faces.

Most women, so it seems, feel naked in public unless they paint their eyes and lips, sometimes even their cheeks. I think this is like throwing a slip cover over a chair. If the chair is good looking you can’t see it; if it isn’t, the slip cover looks like you are trying to hide it.

I admit that some females feel they must use powder and cream to cover up so-called blemishes and maturity marks—imperfections in self image. And when they add fake hair and eyelashes the disguise is complete. A little perfume and the dogs are fooled too. It’s all so puzzling to me. Is it that women want to look beautiful so that men will like them for the wrong reasons? Or is it so that other women will?

At various times in history men have indulged in the same kind of face painting and wig wearing. But for some insanely logical reason they gave it up in the nineteenth century. Except for tattoos. For most of the twentieth century, sporting a tattoo was supposed to be macho. A picture of an eagle, or devil or naked lady meant you were tough. Then, goll-dangit, women started getting tattooed. (They ruined smoking the same way.)

I’m no expert on tattoos and I’m sure the practice of imbedding dye in the skin has an exciting history. But it is a very curious practice. Yes, I understand that some people actually like having fuzzy blue pictures on their arms, or ankles, or wherever. But unlike a permanent hairdo, it’s so permanent. If you want pictures on your body why don’t you just clip something out of a magazine and glue it to your forehead for the evening? Tomorrow you can change it to something else.

Tatoo man

Earrings are another thing I never understood, even when it was only a female thing. To me, wearing Steve Martin’s arrow-through-the-head gimmick makes as much sense. In fact more sense because it’s supposed to look like it pierced your head. I often get wood slivers, but I don’t enjoy showing them off. I think men started doing earrings when women took to tattoos, except they were smarter about it by wearing only one (or was it because they have only one x-chromosome?) No worries about losing one and ruining the set.

But it’s not just the ears. Sticking “ earrings” on all parts of the body has been fashionable for awhile now. (Would one in the nose be called a nosing... one in the lip a lipping?) I saw one guy with things stuck on his brow, nose, tongue, lip, and ears. All he needed was a string of lights and a star on his head and he’d be ready for Christmas.

But then what do I know about fashion—I wear shoes with Velcro straps.