Hello Uncle Foreigner

Nov 2, 2012

Tattoos in China

No long sleeves necessary

Iron Fist PeterPeter in the chair

Before we moved, we knew that our life in China would be different. They use chopsticks and squat toilets here (not at the same time), the government is Communist, and everyone speaks Chinese. Duh.

There were some questions we had, though, that seem silly now. Would I be able to wear tank tops, or would bare arms be too salacious? Would our piercings be OK? Would I be able to have crazy hair colors if I wanted?

We’ve found since landing that, much like in America, there are people who dress conservatively and people who dress wildly. It just depends on your personal style and what your job will welcome in the workplace. (As wacky foreigner teachers, we’re allowed a lot of leeway.)

But, given our pre-landing mindset, we were really surprised to see so many people with tattoos over here. Men and women both — though usually on the younger side — sport ink like it ain’t no thing. They’re not seen as thugs or roustabouts, and no one seems too shocked. Which, again, is much like it is in America these days.

Peter got his first tattoo 20 years ago, and this summer finally felt ready for his second. He chose the symbol of Iron Fist, one of his favorite childhood comic book heroes — and an American man who finds himself in China.

We had seen a small tattoo parlor in the center of the city, so that’s where we went. (Of course afterwards, we started noticing tattoo artists all over town.) The process was pretty straightforward: packaged needle, fresh ink, thorough aftercare instructions.

And now, Peter has harnessed the power of the great dragon Shou-Lao!