(idea inspired by Rachel K.)
When the Jewish Elders were young, the only people who had tattoos were bikers, circus ladies, sailors and Samoans. Because of the social stratification, it mostly likely never occurred to most of them—or their goyish peers– to be tattooed when they were young, unless they were bikers or circus performers. Had they been pressed, they might have cited the prohibition against tattoos from the Torah, but it’s fair to say that tattooing was not a strong temptation in their youth.
Nowadays, tattoos have become ubiquitous, and young Jewesses feel they are just as entitled to the lower back tattoo, known colloquially as the “tramp stamp,” as their shiksa counterparts. Similarly, male Jewish Young Adults are often attracted to tattoos on the upper back, or the arms. For the non-religious JYA the Levitican prohibition and the allure of the Jewish cemetery as a final resting place are not significant barriers to body art. On the other hand, the disapproval of their parents, however, proves an immediate and frightening prospect.
Recently inked JYA “Brian” lamented his wrist tattoo: “I’m just not looking forward to Rosh. I’m gonna wear long sleeved shirts, but I’m not sure I can keep the ‘rents from noticing my ink through Yom Kippur. I just don’t need the added guilt and stress of my mom crying about how I shamed the family with my tattoo on a day I can’t fuckin’ eat.”
Indeed, this is one area where Jewish women have it slightly better than their male counterparts, as the lower back is covered by any shirt appropriate for family dinner, and the ankle, another hotspot, is covered by socks or, in a pinch, the big bandaid. “Last summer I told my dad I cut my ankle shaving” recalls JYA “Tali”, “It was fine for the first few days, but I kind of looked like a hypochondriac by the time the two week semester break was over”.
One should never underestimate the horror Jewish parents have for the tattoo. One famous Jewish porn star has mentioned that her parents were more concerned about her rather unhideable tattoos than they were about her having sex publicly in front of internet perverts. “It’s one thing to be sexing with all these strangers”, stated the porn star’s mother, “That’s just a phase, and some antibiotics will clear up any syphilis. But a tattoo? That’s forever! No drug will rub that shmutz off your body”.