Editorial – The Next Big Thing

Fads and fashions come and go. From multi-hued mohawks to zoot suits to Elizabethan ruffled collars, every era has its peculiarities (remember the Pet Rock?)

And after watching the styles and crazes of the past four decades rise and fall, I’ve figured out what the next big thing is: nothing.

Not that people will be running about naked. Heaven forbid; if that were the case, sales of fast food would plummet faster than the Hindenburg.

No, the “nothing” in question is the use of people’s bodies as a canvas for piercings, tattoos, and what have you. Cartoon Tazmanian devils on shoulders, spider webs on necks, those ubiquitous sun-like symbols that pop out at you whenever young ladies in stores or restaurants bend over to pick something up and reveal their lower backs. (Lately, the trend seems more invasive than Triffids.)

It’s true that humans have been painting and piercing their bodies for, well, ever. But if you skip back up to paragraph one, it bears repeating: fashions and trends rise, suffer from overkill, and then fade out. And phase two is exactly where today’s vogue for tattoos and piercings is at.

Like everything else, It’s cyclical. Today’s youth (say, anybody between about 18 and 25) are setting the trend, splashing tattoos on themselves with abandon. Nick Janna, an employee at Planet Ink in Ottawa, has seen firsthand how “TV shows such as Miami Ink have made tattoos more popular and mainstream than ever.” In a recent interview with CBC, he noted that “It is becoming more socially acceptable. Ten years ago these are things we were praying for. It’s good for business.”

But faster than you can say cellulite and wrinkle cream, today’s youth will be tomorrow’s parents—and their kids, like every generation before them, will want to be different from their folks. What better way to rebel, to make a statement about what your generation stands for, than to look different from the one before?

When those 30-, 40-, and 50-something moms and dads are sporting giant stars on their backs and carrying the ghostly telltale eyebrow scars of piercings past, their kids will be doing the opposite. There will be a definite cachet in being unmarked, in having skin untouched by the tattoo artist’s needle.

It will be a measure of hip to display ears, eyebrows, and tongues still in their natural state. Movie stars, it-girls, and the teenagers that emulate them will desire bodies that are all-natural, unaltered pallets. Even if a midlife crisis prompts someone to have their tattoos removed in an effort to seem part of the younger crowd, their skin can never be completely returned to its pre-altered state. The whole point of the next big trend will be to never have altered one’s skin in the first place.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with tattoos or piercings. But the trend today seems to be to adorn oneself with more large, conspicuous ink work than a South Seas sailor, and, since history tends to repeat itself with unerring regularity, it only stands to reason that the pendulum will once again swing the other way.

When it does, one of the most obvious ways for the next wave of trendsetters to set themselves apart from what went before is to do, well, nothing. Trust me; It’s the next big thing.