Justin Bieber has a lot of tattoos. Never mind the problematic issue of his recent photo shoot for Calvin Klein in which his mostly still adolescent man boobs were artificially enhanced by computer editing software, the fact remains that the prematurely famous man-boy has got some serious ink. Why is this noteworthy, you may be asking. Because tattoos hurt, and despite his production of crappy bubblegum ear-wrecking pop music, the kid has sat through hours and hours of intentional needling.
I have the minutest respect for him because of this. Okay, I’ve overstated it. I don’t actually respect him—frankly he seems like he’s well on the way to becoming a misogynistic egomaniac. I do, however, respect his life choice to cover himself with tattoos. Seriously, have you seen recent pictures of him? I mean, he’s no Danny Trejo when it comes to street cred, but he’s definitely more green than white now. And, as Kermit the Frog reminds us all, it ain’t easy being green.
I bring this up because I too am familiar with the process of subjecting oneself to the needle for long periods of time. The smell of Vaseline and tattoo ink lingers in my memory like the lost perfume of an ex-lover. Or some damn metaphor that makes tattooing sound romantic. It is actually like childbirth in that you forget the pain of getting them and are left with the beauty (or rottenness as the case may be) of the event. Well, this is what I’ve been told by mothers with tattoos. Since I’ve never had kids, I don’t know. Frankly, I’d rather get a tattoo than pop out a baby, but that’s just me. To each her own.
Perhaps that’s why Little JB has gotten so many tattoos. He’s realized at the tender age of 19 (or however old he is) that he’ll never be able to give birth and has opted instead for another pain of creation. Or maybe he’s subjecting himself to the same tortures that his listeners are forced to endure when they hear his music. I know—I just shot a fish in a barrel. You can now imagine either an animation of Bender from Futurama doing the “Oh snap—no she didn’t!” Z-shaped hand gesture or Ashton Kutcher’s Kelso from That 70’s Show saying “Burn!”
MTV has an interactive application on their website called “Justin Bieber’s Tat Map” which invites you to explore the pop star’s body art. The article’s subtitle says “And he winks at you.” I seriously could not make that up. I’m betting the website gets thousands of hits a day on that page. I wonder how often they update the map. Does Biebs have his agent email the MTV webmaster every time he gets a new tat?
The numbers of people (mostly girls) that have JB as a tattoo is also staggering. Portrait tattoos are the most likely of all tattoo types to look terrible if you don’t have a very good artist. You may end up with Sloth from The Goonies instead of JB. This is one of the cardinal no-nos of getting a tattoo. In order of tattoo bad-ideaness, those items are: Don’t get your significant other’s name, any dates subject to change (e.g. wedding anniversary, last drug treatment date), or celebrities who you may not like in five years tattooed on your body. Yes, cover-ups are an option, but really that’s a lot of extra time and pain. Instead, if you’re a herd-minded 18-year-old female with no tattoos and are looking to lose your tattoo-virginity, I suggest a tiny bird exploding into feathers on your ankle or a gothic cross on your butt-cheek. You can simply tell people JB inspired your mainstream rebellion instead of actually getting his face inked on your ribcage.
In summation, let's not forget that Justin Bieber is Canadian, a tattoo of Sloth from The Goonies would actually be awesome, and gone are the days of inking one’s skin as a counter-cultural act of rebellion.