On Tattoos

“He wants me to get a tattoo like his,” Brielle was saying, “but I’m just not, like, totally sure about it.”

“Then you should stick to your guns,” Mr. Magundi said. “Remember that a tattoo is permanent. It will still be with you in twenty years. Would you really want to be wearing 1991 fashions right now?

“But aside from any aesthetic considerations, I think tattoos have a strong tendency to stunt your intellectual development. What I mean is this: I don’t think much of someone who has the same tastes and opinions at fifty that she had at twenty. If you aren’t constantly refining and improving your own mind, how is your life worth living? But a tattoo is an indelible record of what you thought was beautiful and important at one moment in time. You’re stuck with it unless you take drastic measures. It’s more irrevocable than just about any other decision you can make—far more irrevocable in our society than a marriage, for example. And I know human psychology. You’re very likely to persuade yourself that a decision you can never revoke was a good and right decision. And so your taste and opinions will stagnate, at least as far as they’re represented by the tattoo, because you cannot allow them to change.”

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