Opinions on visible tattoos

Just wanted all of your opinions. I’m from the States where tattoos are still a bit taboo but socially acceptable. I plan on staying in Taipei for a while, right now it’s winter so I’m wearing long sleeves all the time, but is it socially acceptable here to display tattoos (which I have on both of my forearms). I’m not an obvious foreigner and blend in pretty well with locals (that is, until I start speaking a bit [not too much of an accent, but clearly not fluent]). Should I continue to wear long sleeves in the hotter seasons or have they become a bit more normative?
Thanks! :smiley:

Wear long sleeves when you teach, or in the office.

In public-so what? Ever been to a water slide park here? I was amazed at how much ink was on both males and females.

If you’re looking for an office job or teaching job, keep it covered. Outside of work, who cares?

thanks for the replies! i’m actually not teaching quite yet. i’m actually going to a mandarin training center to improve on my chinsese and plan on tutoring/teaching for leisure/the good of learning. i guess i’ve just got paranoid because my mother keeps telling me that “you never know who you’ll run into so keep 'em covered to avoid trouble/confrontation”…i suppose she’s worried i’d run into a triad or some other underling of some sort…
however, i agree about keeping a professional image in the work place or any other setting…
thanks again for the advice!

I’m in a similar situation. I’ve also got tattoos on both of my arms/forearms, back, and legs. and am going to school to learn Mandarin/Taiwanese. I wear long sleeves to cover my body art when I go to school or tutor my friend’s younger brother, but I’ve gone weekends and out to night clubs with them exposed before. I’ve pretty much settled on the conclusion that I should keep them covered up during school and any professional or work settings but wear whatever I please during the weekends and on holiday. Keeping your composure during the summer months may be a bit trying if you’re not in an air conditioned environment though. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I thought tattoos were by their very nature visible. Otherwise you’d be just as well sticking pins in yourself. Anyway, they’re ten a penny these days. Everybody and their sister has 'em. The days when they were a mark of individuality are long long gone. Hell, you go to the mall to get a tat these days! Nobody will bat an eye at you unless you have like spiderwebs on your neck or skull or something.
Tell your mother not to worry – even if you did happen to have Taiwanese gang-style tattoos and you’re not a Taiwanese gangster you’d only get laughed at, not beaten.

The acceptability of tattoos in wider society in the West is a sign of the debasement of the culture. I know I will get flack for such an old-fashioned, conservative view, but too bad. I suppose though, tattoos are the perfect illustration (pun intended) of that debasement though, so they’re very much in fitting with where Western civilisation is at.

How’s that, then? They’re no more of a debasement these days than wearing clothes from Gap – they have about the same social cachet as Gap. How’s it debasement?

I had a cup of tea at my father’s uncle’s place before the football a few weeks ago. He is 84 and had his tattoos done when he was 19. Big F-off ones of naked chicks on his forearms. Anyways he was saying that they used to believe tattoos were good for your blood, stopped you getting anaemia or some such nonsense. How mainstream can you get?

How’s that, then? They’re no more of a debasement these days than wearing clothes from Gap – they have about the same social cachet as Gap. How’s it debasement?[/quote]

It’s where behaviour that used to be confined to certain undesirable groups of people has become the mainstream. I would also argue that fashion (and music) copied from “the ghetto” fits this description also. It’s ironic that in Taiwan, there’s this obsession with American ghetto culture, yet few people would like to fully emulate such culture and all its attendant social ills from high teen pregnancy (out of wedlock) to high incarceration rates to rampant drug use and trading.

I’d recommend reading any articles by Theodore Dalrymple or any of the many videos of him on youtube.com.

Absolutely! I used to love blues music, but then I got sick of picking cotton and worrying about being lynched and whipped.


Me too! Baroque spinet music to be precise. But just TRY finding brocade topcoats and powdered wigs here!

HGC: Sure, but social policy, and the wider community, did not lead the wider society to adopt those undesirable elements either. However, that’s not currently the case.

One of Dalrymple’s points is that with certain social policies, there have been unintended consequences, and then tacit acceptance of these as they have moved into more mainstream society, is leading to the breakdown of the fabric of society.

Dalrymple spent much of his working life as a physician in a poor, urban area in Britain, as well as the local prison. Through his daily experiences and conversations, he has seen the way in which many of the bad behaviours of his patients was, if not directly caused by, then at least exacerbated by, social policy which aims to do anything but pass any sort of moral judgement on people and make them responsible for the consequences of their actions (other than merely locking them up temporarily), all the while giving out money to such people with few, if any, strings attached, and that this has led to a culture of hopelessness and dislocation from within a general community, as well as contributed to a nastier society where old people are afraid to go out on the streets anymore.

Dalrymple (who is incredibly well-educated and a very articulate speaker and writer) notes on several occasions that his father grew up in an extremely poor neighbourhood in London (and his mother was a refugee from the Nazi regime), but there were genuine attempts in the education system, amongst other things, to really improve the lives of people and to make them into citizens capable of interacting in a civilised society, not to merely make excuses for them.

It’s also worth noting that he points out a higher correlation between incarceration and tattooing than incarceration and socio-economic class. When people actively aspire towards the bottom end of society, not just because that’s accepted, but because it’s actually “cool”, society has a problem.

Well Dalrymple has clearly not seen Miami Ink, cos if he had, he’d realise most people get tattoos nowadays in memory of their long lost hamster, death of their prized goldfish, or because they passed their driver’s licence, not because they want to ride with the Hell’s Angels.


EHuynh’s got the right approach. When in doubt, err on the side of conservatism.

One of the classic interview questions of all time regarding tattoos (second 17 of this interview clip).

Interviewier: You have a tattoo on a very unusual place.
Oliver Reed: Yes, on my cock.


i hate posting using my phone. Grrr!

Guy, I think you’re missing something.

Tattoos, like homosexuality, were once considered unacceptable. You had to make a decision to oppose the cultural norms. Allegedly.

I say allegedly because there are plenty of examples of rich and privileged people in past times sporting tattoos.

Anyway, nowadays you don’t have to be a jailbird to get a tattoo. It helps if you’re stupid, cos tattoos are stupid, but that’s just my opinion. Tattoos are as mainstream as being a poofter. You can have/do either without being labelled as undesirable.

This is liberalism, not debasement. It doesn’t mean that more people are poor and uneducated. It means that more people are free to express their stupidity. They could wear kilts if they chose, but it wouldn’t mean that the world was also prey to the evils of haggis and thick guttural accents. It would mean that you don’t have to be Scottish to ponce around in a skirt.

Huang Guang Chen and Loretta: I realise they’ve become more mainstream, and I am not saying everyone with a tattoo is a criminal or criminally inclined. What I am saying is that what was once the domain of criminals has been accepted because the bar has been lowered. Someone who lost a pet fifty years ago would not have even considered getting a tattoo to remember the animal because the bar was higher then.

Fewer and fewer things can be judged now because the bar is continually being lowered. I think this is one of liberalism’s great failures and we see it widespread across Western society. A certain vulgarity (of which I am often a party to, I must admit) is the norm now.

Must be an American thing, this criminal stuff. Where I’m from, you got tattooed if you were a) In the merchant marine b) the forces or c) A sectarian twat.
My old man has the old swallows tattooed in the crook of both his thumbs, which used to be a favourite among sailors and later, aviators (he went into the RAF right after he qualified as a doc) and to this day, it marks you as being from a certain time and place. These stupid “tribal” things they have nowadays and whatnot? They mark you out as following the herd of mall-grazers. And why would anyone want to be marked in such a way?
Disclaimer: I used to have a tattoo that read “UK Subs” on my arm, done with a pair of compasses and biro ink. Cost me a lot of money to get it removed. So I’m as guilty as the rest of them when it comes to following the herd.

Remembering back to days of my youth and my parents’ dalliance with naturism… I can remember seeing old guys who had had tough guy tattoos inked when they were younger. The ravages of age had not been kind…

Similarly I saw a young woman who had had a tiny dolphin on her navel before getting pregnant. After the pregnancy, there were stretchmarks through the tat and it had grown in size.

My fave ever chav that I met when I worked in a warehouse during the summer holidays had a self made tat. He wanted to write “I’m an Evertonian” as he was a fan of Everton Football Club. However, the stupid panhead that he was, in fact wrote “I’m an Everton onion”

I never saw the attraction after that.