Baby Boomers arrived late to the tattoo party. It is more difficult to find a Boomer with a tattoo because most of this generation does not have art inked on their skin. This generation would rather buy art to hang where it can be noticed because as a generation, they often invest in objects that reflect their success. The ones who do have them, place their tattoos in less visible spots. This allows them to continue to function under the radar in mainstream society, continuing to work at their job without judgment. Most Boomer tattoos commemorate the life of someone special who has now left earth, or a philosophy or symbol that is important to them.

Sue’s tattoo is over 30 years old. It is the Chinese symbol for “long life.” Clearly her life is longer than the clarity of her tattoo, so it must have done its job!

Sue

Sue’s tattoo was a secret, placed discreetly on her upper thigh by a Hawaiian artist while she was on vacation when she was just 21 years old. She seldom shows it to others because the meaning is

This is the same symbol, made by my neighbor, Anna Cui Yap

really just a reminder to herself: it is the Chinese symbol for “long life.” Sue’s tattoo was a sensitive subject because her older sister was very judgmental about it at the time it was done. Twenty years later, her sister started considering a tattoo for herself. Now it’s nearly another ten years later, and still no tattoo. Yes, most Boomers arrived late to this party, but Sue was an early trendsetter!

Kay

Author Kay Strom noticed  a tiny cross tattooed to the forearms of some Copts in Egypt (the largest Christian ethno-religious group in Egypt) and wondered why. She was taken by their response:

“We feel certain that severe persecution is coming to Egypt, and we are not sure we will be able to stand up to it. We have chosen to have ourselves indelibly marked as followers of Christ so that we can never renounce Him, not even in our weakest moments,” one woman explained.

“The Egyptian women asked me to get the tattoo to show that I am one with them,” remarks Kay.

How could you say no to that? When Kay came home, in a show of solidarity with the heart of the Egyptian women, she got the same tattoo. It is tiny in comparison with most tattoos of today. “I can cover it with a bandage when I visit Muslim countries,” Kay explains.

I recently asked Kay how these Egyptian women are doing. She writes:

Financially, worse off, but spiritually strong. Some women lost husbands, sons, and other relatives when ISIS captured so many Egyptian men. As you may recall, the militants asked each man if he was a Christian. All who said “yes” were shot in the head. All who said no were allowed to live. When pictures came out of the wailing women, raising their hands in mourning, I could see the tattooed Coptic cross on many arms.”

Boomers are out there with tattoos, they just consider them much more private and personal in nature. The stories behind them are much more philosophical and sentimental in nature. They are strategically placed, well-thought out, and obsessed over.

Are you a Baby Boomer with a tattoo? Snap a pic and share it in the comments below. Tell us the story behind it so we can understand why this image was important enough to make it permanent.

Tomorrow we will examine the tattoos and the trends that exploded with Generation X—which are more plentiful and much more visible.

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