Tattoos; good or bad for models?

January 14, 2013

There is a quote running around the interwebs by Johnny Depp that states;

“My body is my journal and my tattoos are my story”

Excellent quote and one that is often quoted by models when faced with the desire to get more tattoo’s on their bodies. I love tattoos on people, your body your choice, however, the modeling industry has yet to catch on to the body is a journal. This subject is a very tense subject so I will try and approach it from a point of view that is more neutral than my normal posts.

In the good ole 21st century it is now common place to see tattoos on people everywhere of all ages, shapes and sizes. Your body, your temple, do with it as you please. I will never judge you, however if you ask for my professional opinion, I will tell you to go slow with tattoo’s. I say this for many reasons some are because of your desired modeling career, others are because of your personal decisions later in life. I have yet to meet a model that is 100% proud of every tattoo s/he has. Every single model has one or two they wished they never got or are adding to it to make it “better” Tattoos are forever and few people realize this at the time they’re getting them. I remember in the late 1990’s the “tramp stamp” (tattoo on lower back) became the in-thing to do. Most females didn’t know why they were doing it, but they were doing it. Here’s a lesson for you; the reason why this fad started was for the fact that as you grow older and gain weight, that area of your body is the LAST to stretch out. With guys it was the tribal arm band. Quickly, those wore out and “Tramp Stamps” became a signal for “Easy” girls.

Tattoos aren’t prohibited in the modeling world, but many tattoo’s will severely limit what you can do as well as give perceptions of you. While being pre-judges is always ignorant on the judger’s part, sadly, that judger is the ones with the jobs and he or she will have the final say. If I am a designer, I am looking for a model with a specific look. They must meet height, weight requirements as well as being pretty plain looking. Why? I don’t want ANYTHING to compete with my product! If I have a short sleeved design and I have a model with tattoo sleeves (tattoos that start at shoulder and run down to wrists) where do you think my viewers eyes will go? Yes, to the ink on the model. If I am trying to get my brand noticed, I don’t want that attention on the model, the model is there to fill out my designs, to show how they fit on the body.

“Jay, there have been SuperModels with tattoos!”

Yes! There has been. In fact, lets name a few that have tattoos:

  • Adriana Lima
  • Abbey Lee Kershaw
  • Alessandra Ambrosio
  • Anja Rubik
  • Behati Prinsloo
  • Chanel Iman
  • Cintia Dicker
  • Gisele Bundchen
  • Heidi Klum
  • Isabeli Fontana
  • Jessica Stam
  • Lily Donaldson
  • Rosie Huntington-Whiteley

Each of these young ladies have all walked Victoria’s Secret Runway and been in the catalog and other things. The one thing you should know? Most of these young ladies had already had their career and staying power BEFORE getting the tattoo. Second; the tattoos are all smaller in nature. Once you have the staying power, you can do pretty much whatever you want within reason. Let’s take Samuel L. Jackson for example; he has in his contracts he gets 3 weeks of golf per three month movie project. This is paid for him and he is to be uninterrupted. Now lets consider he has made the movie industry over 5billion dollars with his appearance in movies. Once you have what people desire, you call the shots. Also, the tattoos on the models are all smaller in size and can be covered by makeup or taken out in two seconds in post processing.

Today, the industry is still slow to come around and sadly, as long as my generation is still around, I don’t see there being heavily tattooed models on the major runways. This is why sites such as GodsGirls and Suicide Girls exist; to give those heavily tattered models a chance to show off their beautiful work and selves. Sadly, tattoos are still frowned upon in general mainstream modeling. Does this mean if you have tattoos don’t try out for things? No! Not at all. IMHO, if you present a look that is desired by the client, they will overlook or find a way to fit your tattoos in. On the other hand if modeling is something you seriously want to try, know that it is a very difficult profession to break in and you should do everything in your power to stand out and be different. Be a throw back and if you have small or no tattoos keep it that way until you have star power behind yourself. You have to play the game until you become a player in the game.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.