Jul 20, 2011

Pretty In Ink

dear ask a punk-
I'm a female musician. I've been in a couple of bands and I'm a decent player of guitar or bass. I'm not much of a songwriter yet so I do like being in a real band and not just sitting home and recording stuff by myself into my computer. The problem I'm running into now is that I'm once again looking for a new band to be in, I keep getting the vibe from people like I'm not cool enough for them. I'm cute enough. I've got style and can be pretty outrageous when it is called for. It seems the problem comes down to this mostly: I don't have any tattoos. It seems like it is now mandatory to have arms full of tattoos if you want to be in a band, or even be allowed into certain crowds. The thing is, I do like tattoos on other people, boys especially, I've got nothing against 'em and don't judge people for having them, so why am I being judged for NOT having them? That doesn't seem fair. - blank canvas.

Dear BC-
Skinny ties. Wide ties. Tight pants. Baggy pants. Long hair. Short hair. Leather jackets. Vegan shoes. Basically fashion has always been a way of indicating where our other cultural preferences are and who our chosen 'tribe' is... but all those things are temporary or removable. Hair grows out or can be cut. Old and/or embarrassing clothes can be replaced (and hopefully forgotten.) Styles, and with them, their era's definition of what is 'cool' are forever changing. It has always been this way... but tattoos are forever, right? ...and that is something very different.

What isn't different is that, as always, a 'non-conformist' subculture tends to start trying to instill conformity within the group. As I've said before, in the earliest era of Punk Rock, basically anything that didn't sound like Lynyrd Skynrd or Styx could be called "punk rock" ... including an act that consisted of two guys in suits, one playing the accordion while his band mate beat on a shopping cart (wired with microphones) with an axe handle. I know this because I opened for them. More than once ...but eventually "official" punk rock became something that carried with it certain requirements - leather jackets, torn clothes, Docs or sneakers, F-ed up hair etc etc. You get the idea. I guess the tattoo thing is/was the next logical step in pushing the envelope.

Don't get me wrong. Like you, I actually DO like tattoos (and I even have a couple.) but I don't think of them as a requirement. Funny also that, opposite of you, I usually think they look better on girls... probably due to the fairer sex being less hairy.

I would say that you have to stick to your guns here. As you said, you're not being a jerk, not judging them for having tattoos... so anyone who judges you for not having them obviously isn't on your level. Keep looking. Surely the world needs more cute and clever guitar girls who are also willing to play bass.