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Postcards from Scotland

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Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. Her latest book is Hiding in Plain Sight: Exploring Scotland's ill health. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.

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Posted 27/06/2006

Iíve been thinking about tattoos a lot recently. Indeed in this good weather it's hardly possible to walk along Union Street to the office and avoid seeing tattoos on all sorts of unlikely places. One of the reasons why Iíve been reflecting on them is because they have become a brilliant example of the limitations of futurology. Who would have anticipated twenty years ago that tattoos Ė the stock in trade of sailors and bikers with big hairy arms Ė would become a major fashion statement of 2006? Apparently around 65% of customers these days to American tattoo parlours are women. The UK figure might be lower but judging by what I can see women are in the ascendancy in the tattoo market here as well.

Since we live in a rebellious and extremist age, the more that tattoos and body piercing becomes mainstream the more it encourages self-mutilation. In fact this has already happened. At one time it was a sign of rebellion to flaunt an eye-brow or belly ring. As this became more commonplace, the real rebellious individualists took to having large screws put in their chin or other places too painful to discuss. While I was in California recently I saw the latest craze in self-mutilation: a young man with huge discs in the lobes of his ears. It must have taken considerable work to stretch an area normally the size of a small coin to something approaching the base of a wine glass.

At the risk of sounding like one of the interviewees on ĎGrumpy Old Womení I must say I just donít get it. In my day rebellion had some meaning. You went to meetings and demonstrations. You drew up manifestos. You didnít just stretch your ear lobes or put a bone through your nose.

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