Sunday 15 December 2019

Fads come and go, but you do realise that's permanent?

Joanne McNally is concerned about the current penchant for frankly hideous body art...

Illustration by Rachel Corcoran
Illustration by Rachel Corcoran

Joanne McNally

I love a good trend. For example, I was once a massive fan of all things neon and metallic, at the same time. I could be seen coming a mile off, trotting through town, not a care in the world, oblivious to the puzzled looks from across the street.

Hold up, why is that builder over there sporting a wedged heel and a clutch bag with his high-vis jacket? Oh no, wait, it's Joanne. What the fuck is she wearing!? NEON! THAT'S WHAT! I wore studded bum bags round my waist and bicycle chains round my neck. I had runners that looked like they'd been spat out of a nuclear power plant, boasting multiple tongues, all the size of traffic cones. No gust of wind was takin' me out - I'd say I was carrying an extra nine kilos in accessories alone. I was like a demented-looking magpie, anything that sparkled was immediately assessed for a hole which I could force my head through, so I could pull it on over the first two layers of sparkly shit I was wearing, under my jacket made of holograms. I was happier than a pig in shite because I didn't realise that I actually looked like a pig who'd just escaped from a drag show, alongside the cast of Red Dwarf, but they'd all been taken out with a hand grenade, blown into smithereens beside me, and I was now covered in their collective, auroral remains.

Not content with making a show out of my body, I extended the mission of mortification to my hair. None of your dainty 'highlight' shit. Nope, it needs to be bright, white, now. Unfortunately, this brainwave came to me while backpacking through Ho Chi Min City, so off I went to a salon called 'Tony and Chai'. What followed was reminiscent of that scene from The Green Mile where your man sabotages the other lad's execution by not wetting the sponge that goes under his helmet thing, and his head goes on fire, and people are pickin' his charred scalp out of their eyelashes. Third-degree scalp burns were never a trend.

Sometimes following trends can be dangerous - but that's me, I'm a risk taker: 'Mad Mc'. Pass me that single crucifix earring and that shoulder-padded ski suit 'til I ironically wear the shit outta them. I look ridiculous!? Eh, I doubt that pal! But I'll have to come back to you on that, as I can't see a thing through these Timmy Mallet glasses. Yes, I'm a trend slut. I love a good temporary, reversible, deletable, washable-outable trend.

And so it is I look with concern at all these gorgeous hipster-style kids running amok around Ireland, gettin' high on craft beers and peddling their fluorescent fixies across the moon with a small, bearded Conor McGregor lookalike in their basket, covered head to toe in what look like the doodles of a very drunk Don Conroy. But these are forever doodles: tattoodles.

Tattoos in themselves are not news, they've been a long-standing signifier that you're a bit of a ballsy bastard. But with such a specific look and feel to these trendy tatoodles, those chipsticks are committing to a fleeting fashion that their man buns can't cash out. There was a stage where I would have sworn on my Buffalo boots that you'd be burying me in those bad boys, or that some poor undertaker would be desperately trying to dislodge the bottle of Sun In from my rigor mortised hands before wheeling me out to meet my maker. But style moves on, and people move on, and I'm sure that both Mel B and my auntie Niamh were 100pc convinced that getting their names permanently etched across their lower abdomen in Chinese symbols was a timeless testament to their hipness. But alas, no.

Nowadays, the kind of tattoos Ed Sheeran and Harry Styles have are what's in style. Random etchings, all over your forearms, eventually perhaps meant to join up to form some sort of sleeve. Some etchings are ironic, some heartfelt, some just sort of cool looking (for now). But collectively, I fear, they are going to be a big fat miss once the trend passes - a permanent big fat miss.

Don't get me wrong, I love tattoos, I think they're the sexiest thing on the planet. Throw a can of Lynx Africa in the mix and I'll be dry humping your leg in no time. There was a stage there where I wrestled with the idea of getting one myself: a teeny anchor UV tattoo on the soul of my foot, where no one would ever see it, unless I'm lying down on my back, with my foot jammed into their face, scanning it with an ultraviolet light. Invisible to the world, but I can swan around town, safe in the knowledge that I'm hard as nails. But all I can hear is MOTHERA' GOD WHAT ABOUT YOUR CAREER!? Thanks mom. What if I've just interviewed for my dream job (Enid Blyton's ghost writer) and, as I get up to leave, I trip over a stray filofax on the ground and my penny loafer slips off, and my pop sock is ripped open, and the scandalous soul of my now nautically themed foot is laid bare in front of one of those new air humidifiers that uses ultraviolet light to treat the water!? And there I am, face and foot, glowing with shame... wailing and covering my eyes so as not to see Enid's face as she registers this social stain and realises that, underneath this Laura Ashley two-piece that I've worn for the occasion, I'm actually a massive ballsy bastard.

All preconceived notions of my squeaky clean image shot to shit, as she gets an immediate insight into my gritty past, flashing images of all the Marlboro Lights, the dolly mixtures, the not going to mass, the detentions, the weak Junior, THE SHAAAAAAME!

But surely I could enjoy social relevancy with something that wouldn't jeopardise my entire career and leave me scarlet on the floor at Enid's. I need to look young, but don't have the attention span to operate dungarees, and armbands seem cumbersome. I had it! A FRINGE! I love fringes; beautiful youth-giving, wrinkle-hiding fringes. It'll be like the curious case of Joanne McNally... Adults will probably begin approaching me when I'm out and ask me if I'm lost. I might say I am and see what happens. Stick your tattoodles, I'd rather have my street cred snipped in and around my face .

I'll leave out the detail here, but it's worth knowing that getting the fringe was the biggest mistake of my life to date and I now look like I've just catapulted myself over the Iron Curtain and landed in 2014, confused as to why I have to Pay and Display my tank.

I reassure myself and my family that at least it will grow out, I won't always look like I've had the shit kicked out of me by the Soviet Union.

But what about the tattoodled children? Their forearms full of unicorns, octagons and antlers. What will become of them? I'm no guidance counsellor, but if I was dishing out career advice I'd say, swat up on the ol' laser removal, because you're gonna make a mint.

Irish Independent

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