Sunday, 5 October 2014

Tattoos – The Good, The Bad and the Ugly!

Mouse Tally: Still 95, Mickey is making me work hard for my century.

I’ve recently taken over running the Chumey School newspaper and this post is based on an article I wrote.

As a foreigner working in a Bhutanese school, one of the things that surprises me most is the number of students with tattoos. In the West, most tattoos are done by professionals in strictly controlled, hygienic conditions and you have to be at least 18 to get one. This is not the case here at Chumey School and from my observations, the story is similar across Bhutan.

I wanted to know why students got tattoos. Who makes them? How do they do it? Are Chumey students happy with their tattoos? Interestingly for something that is often on plain view for all to see, many students were reluctant to talk about their tattoos and nobody from Chumey School would show their face in a photo with their tattoos. 

A student from a different school, proud of his tats

The only way I could get students to talk was if I promised anonymity and even then many would not allow me to photograph their tattoos.  One girl in Year 9 regretted her tattoo on her leg immediately after it was done because it looked so poor. The tattoo was done by a friend using an unsterilized needle and watercolour paints.

She told me, “When professionals make tattoos, they look beautiful. I wanted mine to be beautiful but it isn’t.  I regret it because now people see me as a bad company woman.”

What would Hugh Heffner say?
Another girl deeply regretted the tattoos on her hands which frankly looked like mindless doodling.  She would not let me photograph them.  One boy believed that his tattoos will have disappeared in a year or two, thus allowing him to fulfil his ambition to join the army which has a ban on recruits with tattoos. 

Probably the best tattoo I've seen
I even spoke to one girl who was so filled with regret at the tattoo on her arm that she tried to burn it off with embers from a fire. Now she has an ugly tattoo with an even uglier scar across it. Even the local technical college has now introduced a ban on students with tattoos leaving some students with very few employment options.

I’m not against tattoos done by professionals on adults. I just think it is a shame that so many children are getting these dreadful home-made ones that they almost always regret. I wrote the newspaper story to hopefully make the students ‘think before they ink.’ I hope my words will have some effect.

I am told the P stands for the initial of his girlfriend
Many students have tattoos of this standard

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