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To Ink or Not to Ink?

Gao Changli, the director of SAPPRFT’s publicity department outlined the following rules:

“Absolutely do not use actors whose heart and morality are not aligned with the party and whose morality is not noble. Absolutely do not use actors who are tasteless, vulgar and obscene. Absolutely do not use actors whose ideological level is low and have no class. Absolutely do not use actors with stains, scandals and problematic moral integrity” (Source:

More recently the Chinese Football association followed with a similar decision when they banned players from displaying tattoos on the pitch. Football stars are some of the most inked celebrities out there, only rare exceptions exist such as the Portuguese forward, Cristiano Ronaldo, who resists the trend because he doesn’t want to limit his ability to donate blood.

China’s clamp down on tattoos and what it deems to be offensive or vulgar public displays is somewhat unique; at a time when media in western nations have been promoting alternative culture for decades. Western shows such as Ink Master along with Kat Von D’s Miami Ink and L.A. Ink are prime time television programs that turn tattoo parlours into ‘Reality TV’. Subsequently the statistics for tattoos have increased globally. In North America two out of ten have at least one tattoo. What is not spoken about too often is the follow up statistic, that a significant percentage regrets this decision. (

In Hong Kong, tattooing was once seen as the marking for criminals and violent street gangs but today it has become part of popular culture, even your grandmother can have one.

What drives people to make the decision to mark their body? For many it may have simply been a drunken night or peer pressure from friends but at the heart of tattooing is vanity. The prerequisite is that you have to spend an inordinate amount of time admiring yourself or the image you are trying to portray. The Chinese government knows this and recognises that tattoos and an unbalanced focus on the ‘self’ are at odds with a moral society. When we begin putting ourselves above the well-being of those around us, then society begins to suffer as a whole. Tattoos are only the first step towards a vain self-interest. Regardless of the associated risks from poor hygiene, blood transmitted diseases or likely regrets on your choice of markings, tattoos promote an unhealthy culture not too dissimilar to undergoing surgical enhancements.

There are numerous negative physical side effects to tattoos but the most disconcerting aspect is the psychological condition of those who tattoo themselves. We should be balanced in the way we conduct ourselves, by all means take care of our bodies through healthy choices of food and exercise but avoid the psychologically damaging effects of admiring your body to the point of tattoo ink.