The art of tattooing has been around, well, since the Bronze Age, and possibly even earlier. For thousands of years, we humans have had a fascination with permanently adorning our bodies with symbolic or simply decorative markings. The tattoo has gone in and out of fashion throughout the years in various cultures.
Currently in the United States, tattooing is becoming more accepted as form of self- expression. A recent study estimated that over 45 million Americans have tattoos, with “Millennials”, ages 18-29, being the largest group by a wide margin. Tattoos and piercings have gained popularity over the past few decades, and are more accepted now than in past generations.
Numerous TV shows like Miami Ink, L.A. Ink, Tattoo Nightmares, and Ink Masters have a become commonplace. In 2011, Mattel even introduced a tattooed Barbie doll, which caused a bit of a controversy. I guess tattoos aren’t meant for everyone…maybe the Ken doll should have had one first?
I have noticed a trend in Romance Novel covers that reflects this current shift in our culture. Many of the men (with Naked, Hot Abs, of course) on Romance and Erotic Romance novel covers are now tattooed hunks. Is there still something about the tattoo that screams, “BAD BOY”? Even though, in reality, CEO’s, bankers, attorneys and accountants may have tattoos, there is still that stigma associated with it. But when the shirt (or pants) come off and all you see is muscle and ink, naughtiness and fun is the message coming through. Loud and clear! (Even if he wears a suit the rest of the time).
In my own personal experience, I have to admit my Hubby’s tats have the same effect on me. My late first husband was vehemently against tattoos, and I never really agreed with him. I feel that they can enhance a body, especially if artfully done, and symbolic in nature. Ironically, my own tattoo was a tribute to my late husband, though he would never have approved. But my tattoo really means something special to me. And my current husband (he has four) has a story and meaning behind each of his. When I met him, I found they not only made him more attractive to look at, but, yeah the ‘bad boy’ factor entered into it.
My preference, though, is tattoos as adornment. So for me, too many tattoos takes away from the overall effect just as makeup or jewelry can be overdone.
What do you think? Do tattoos on a Romance Novel Hero make you want to grab that book and read it? Does it imply to you that the Hero may also be a “Bad Boy” type? Should there be only a few tats, or cover that boy up?