Once in a while you see a tattoo that just speaks to your soul, at least I do. This is the inside of the right arm of Ellyn, my dietician friend. She is a GenXer who, like many other GenXers, is a frequent flyer. She has several tattoos. More important than the number of tattoos is that she is a participant in the biggest way that GenXers have changed the perception of tattoos. How? The way GenX has changed everything in our world: through media! Ellyn watches cable TV shows that showcase nothing but tattoos and their creators.
Born and raised in a Chicago suburb, Ellyn was the only Jewish girl in her school. She learned early from her WASP-y peers all the traits that would make her different: being too smart, too cheap or too opinionated. In an effort to blend in at school, she became the most generous, the kindest, the most helpful smart girl in class. Yet at home, she tried hard to please her Jewish parents by adhering to their standards too. She grew up to marry a successful Jewish attorney fulfilling all the expectations of parents and peers alike.
Ellyn doesn’t remember a time when she wasn’t fascinated by tattoos. Her parents warned her that “Jews don’t get tattoos.” To please her parents, she resisted the siren song of body art, but continued to appreciate tattoos from a distance. She watched television shows created by GenXers for GenXers that showcased tattoo artists. Through these shows, she developed a true affinity for the art of tattoo.
After the death of both her parents, the song loudened and she sought the counsel of a rabbi. Could she get a tattoo and still be a good Jewish lady? Based on the above scriptures: “Don’t tattoo yourselves. I am God.” (Leviticus 19:28b), the rabbi explained that there are many Jewish cemeteries where tattooed bodies are not allowed to be buried.
“But people with nose jobs and boob jobs are welcome to be buried there?” Ellyn inquired incredulously. Deciding for her own Jewish self that vanity was vanity, no matter what form it took, she was going to choose her own form. Let others decide what happens to the body she adorns during her lifetime.
She watches many different cable shows on tattoo and stays current with the newest and best artists. On a trip to Las Vegas in 2013, Ellyn was thrilled to congratulate the most recent winner of Inkmasters, Joey Hamilton, while he was doing a guest appearance at Planet Hollywood. Serendipitously, he had a cancellation and Ellyn filled in the the vacant time slot with her own blank canvas–her arm.
The result of their collaboration is beautiful!