Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Study finds tattoos, shaved heads, goatees no longer intimidating

According to a recently published study, shaved heads, goatees, and tattoos, once worn almost exclusively by bikers, bouncers, prisoners, and pirates are no longer as frightening or intimidating as they once were.

This finding comes out of the Violence Prevention Foundation, an educational foundation that studies the impact of violence on American culture. The report shows that while the characteristics have historically instilled a sense of fear or dread in the populace, they have since been relegated to mere fashion accessories.

“Long gone are the days where you run into a guy in a bar, who has most or all of these indicators, and expect to be robbed and pounded into a coma,” said Sheila Saunders, director of the foundation. “Now, he could very well be an accountant, or in marketing, maybe even your hair stylist.

No longer will such an individual immediately take an aggressive stance with you either, according to the study. Now there is overwhelming evidence that he might very well shrink away to avoid any confrontation.

“It really is an astounding shift in behavior that we are really only now starting to understand,” Saunders said.

In years past, a clean bald head was often brandished by a ruffian, a gang-banger, or say, a gladiator. It comes as no surprise that the public would want to avoid such a character. In fact, the foundation had only recently updated its brochures and counselling guidelines which previously recommended staying clear of these people at all costs.

Now, explains Saunders, the fashion fad of shaving one’s head, for example, is one of the most common styles that men choose when their hair begins to thin out. “It really is the 21st century version of the comb-over,” she said with a chuckle.

As for tattoos, the foundation was surprised to find out that there are only 234 people in America who have not yet been inked somewhere on their body.

“It really says nothing about you anymore,” Saunders said. ”No one can spend a drunk weekend in Panama City without being dared by your best friend and her sister into getting some Chinese characters tattooed on your lower back”.

Saunders also downplayed the barbed wire tattoos found on upper arms, saying that the “bad-ass quotient” applied to this feature in the study had fallen substantially over recent years.

“The guy that delivers our mail has one of those,” Saunders said, and then whispered, “I can tell you that dude hasn’t been to the gym in decades so I don’t know what he’s trying to show off.”


There are some exceptions, however. The study revealed that there are still some tattoos that will invoke justifiable fear in most people. For example:

  • Religious and political icons tattooed in between the eyes – indicates that your ideology trumps the safety and well being of those around you.  
  • Tattoos that spread across the neck and onto the face – shows you don’t give a shit about what anyone thinks
  • Branded tattoos, indicating that you’ve sold space on your body to market a product – seriously, we don’t know what to think about that
  • Your dead cousin’s name or image tattooed on your shoulder and/or back – tells everyone that standing anywhere near you might be dangerous

What are commonly called “goatees” are actually a variation of the Vandyke, a distinction that is brought up all the time, but one that no one seems to care about anymore.

“They were invariably worn by musketeers, in common depictions of the Devil, and popular with early 20th century magicians,” Saunders said. “We often associate this style of facial hair with alternate universe counterparts of ourselves or evil twins. . .that and eye patches for some reason.”

The research indicates that now, goatees are worn by almost a third of all 30-45 year-old men as an ineffective way to draw attention from a receding hairline.

Now that these once frightening characteristics are no longer good indicators of ferocity, the Center instead instructs that you visually inspect to see if the man standing in front of you in an aggressive manner is wielding some sort of weapon, such as a knife or a gun.

“The Violence Prevention Foundation now recommends you should avoid that sort of person,” Saunders warns

Study finds tattoos, shaved heads, goatees no longer intimidating

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