Portraits by Other Means

Tattoo You and Me

Tattoo You and Me
Credit: K Sandberg/Vintage Collective

I recently got my first tattoo. It was very exciting.

My friend, however, was unimpressed. “It’s 2011. Everyone has tattoos,” he said. He’s right, I realized, and now I will forever have this little feather on my ankle. At least I’m not alone.

Marc Jacobs, Designer

Jacobs has the word “perfect” tattooed on his right wrist. “Because I am a perfect being in a perfect world where everything that happens must be completely...” He let that thought go. “It was from something that I was studying at this rehab that I went to.”

George Orwell, Writer

Another document notes that [Orwell] had tattoo marks on the backs of his hands—not evident from published photographs.

Adrian Fierz, son of the friend who helped Orwell find his first publisher, spotted the tattoos and asked about them. “They were,” he recalled, “blue spots the shape of small grapefruits—one on each knuckle.”

Caroline Kennedy, Kennedy

During a night out in Hong Kong, Caroline, her brother, John F. Kennedy Jr., and her cousins Edward “Teddy” Kennedy Jr., 47, and Kara Anne Kennedy, 48, challenged one another with a mischievous dare, a source said, noting that the group had consumed a few drinks.

The boys challenged the girls to get a late-night “tat” at a nearby parlor.

Caroline and Kara went first and emerged “bruised and bloodied,” emblazoned with butterflies on their arms.

Barry Goldwater, Former Arizona Senator

The late Sen. Barry Goldwater, Arizona’s one-time Republican presidential candidate, had a tattoo. It included four small blue dots (representing snake bites) and a half moon on his left hand. It had to do with him being a “chief” of the Smokis, a collection of mostly white men who dressed up in Native American attire, painted their bodies and imitated traditional ceremonies like the Hopi snake dance.

Lady Randolph Churchill, Mother/Winston Churchill, Former British Prime Minister

Lady Randolph Churchill had a rather unladylike snake tattooed on her wrist. At the time, however, it was extremely fashionable for upper class women and socialites to get expensive tattoo work done, and the strategic placement meant that Lady Randolph could cover up the ink with a chunky bracelet when necessary. Like mother like son, young Winston followed in his mom’s wristy behavior, when he got an anchor drawn on his arm.

Samantha Cameron, British First Lady

[Cameron] also boasts some interesting street cred. Press attention has focused on her friendship with hip hop star Tricky during her days at university in Bristol—and the fact her ankle is adorned with a dolphin tattoo.

George P. Shultz, Former U.S. Secretary of State

It has been widely rumored that Shultz sports a tiger tattoo. Some tales claim that the tattoo is on his head, craftily hidden beneath his hair, while others assert that the tiger is really on the bottom of his foot.

When Shultz came to campus to lecture three years ago, The Daily Princetonian (Nov. 15, 1999) did some digging and got a sly confirmation as to the true placement of the tattoo from Shultz’s former roommate, Norman Cook ’42.

Cook reported that the tattoo is “not a monstrously huge tattoo. I would call it ‘ass-thetic.’”

Kate Moss, Model

Kate Moss has two swallows diving into her buttock crack.


TMN Editor Leah Finnegan is from Illinois by way of Texas. She splits her time between New York City and her website. More by Leah Finnegan

blog comments powered by Disqus