Over the weekend, Lil Wayne got two new face tats – some Arabic script above his left eyebrow and a bloodshot eyeball on his chin, which may or may not be the Eye of Providence.
But what’s more shocking than Wayne’s new face ink is how incredibly not shocking it is. This is due in part to the fact that Lil Wayne has a slew of other face tattoos (some tears here, some stars there) but also because somehow, over the past year or two, face tattoos have become socially acceptable, even fashionable.
I remember receiving the news of Gucci Mane’s most controversial face tat like it was yesterday. The year was 2011 and, fresh out of a mental institution (for cocaine addiction), Gucci goes ahead and gets a tattoo of an ice cream cone being hit by lightning accompanied by the word “Brrr” on his cheek.
The Internet went wild.
Some suggested Gucci should go back to the loony bin. Others demanded an explanation. Eventually we got one, via spokesperson Kali Bowyer, who told Rolling Stone it is “a reminder to fans of how he chooses to live his life. Cool as ice. As in ‘I’m so icy, I’ll make ya say Brr.”
Granted, Gucci’s tat received particular attention because of its size, location and total absurdity, but fast-forward to 2014 (that’s roughly 2.5 billion years in Internet time) and Wayne’s new ink barely causes a ripple. In fact, outside of Wayne’s fanboy sites and niche rap and hip hop sites, the only mainstream coverage it received was via Page Six and MTV.
Face tattoos are commonplace amongst rappers –notable proponents include The Game, Fredo Santana, Soulja Boy and Wiz Khalifa–but they’re not the only ones who have brought face tats to the mainstream. A slew of it-boy models are responsible for helping face tats to cross the threshold from “acceptable” to “fashionable.”
Bradley Soileau, who rose to fashion darling status after appearing in a Lana Del Rey video, has a slew of face tats, including one across his forehead that reads, “War inside my head” (it’s a quote from a Suicidal Tendencies song). And who can forget Canadian model Vin Los, who covered his face in fashion industry buzzwords this past summer?
This isn’t to say that a face tat is totally humdrum, but now that tattoos in general have become so commonplace and socially acceptable (I have a handful myself and I’m not exactly a lawless biker or homeless skate punk), it’s as if the face tattoo is the last remaining option to illicit some reaction. Even so, it’s evident that its returns are quickly diminishing.
I, for one, look forward to seeing what absurd body modification trend emerges to take its place.