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Sorry, but face tattoos can seriously harm your life

PUBLISHED: 12:59 20 November 2019 | UPDATED: 13:00 20 November 2019

Steven Downes has a problem with face tattoos   Photo: AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos

Steven Downes has a problem with face tattoos Photo: AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos

Not so many years ago, I vowed never to have a tattoo. I now have two tattoos, with more to come.

Tattoos are fine - below the neckline, says Steven Downes      Photo: Getty Images/iStockphotoTattoos are fine - below the neckline, says Steven Downes Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

I also once wrote about my dislike of beards, pledging never to wear one. My face currently sports a bushy ginger specimen, complete with the fragrant scent of oil.

Then there's my faith, which has gone from evangelistic to atheistic in the space of a few years.

Some would call me indecisive, changeable, hypocritical: I prefer flexible.

My next vow is for life, though - I promise. I will never have a tattoo on my face or on my neck.

It's not that I don't like face tattoos: it's that I think they're horrible.

The British Tattoo Artist Federation has very sensibly called for the law to be changed, making it illegal to have a facial tattoo below the age of 21 (it's currently 18).

I'd like it to be illegal, full stop. That won't happen (and probably shouldn't, as there's the troublesome matter of human liberty to take into account), but it won't stop me ranting.

For, despite idealistic urgings not to judge a book by its cover, we do - and when someone's face is covered with ink, the judgments are not positive.

Face tattoos can be intimidating, even frightening. They create an instant impression, and can put people off completely.

In Sunday football, I've noticed a clear correlation between the number of players at a club who have neck and face tattoos, and the amount of aggression and nastiness displayed.

Maybe the "don't care what you say" attitude needed to have the tattoos naturally translates to the pitch?

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We recently had a particularly peaceful and good-spirited away match - until a substitution in the second half saw a youngster with a neck tattoo introduced. Within minutes he was squaring up to our winger and making threats.

I'm generalising, of course. And I know there are countless lovely people who are tattooed in any and every place.

They do have an impact on a person's life, though. A hurried decision to be inked on the forehead at age 18 could close so many doors professionally and even personally.

On one side, people say: "It's your problem: you should be more open-minded."

But I think that's utopian. Every one of us has to live in the world, part of which includes adapting our appearance for our audience.

A suit and tie when you're in the dock; a top at all times except on the beach or in the bedroom; green-and-yellow paraphernalia at Carrow Road; nothing revealing in a mosque; black clothes at a funeral (unless otherwise requested).

If somebody walked into my office for an interview, with a tattoo on their face, they'd be at an immediate disadvantage. It might not sit comfortably with those who put rights ahead of right, but I'd feel very uncomfortable sending the person to cover a sensitive inquest or to interview a 105-year-old.

Maybe one day we'll get to the point where it doesn't matter. After all, we've very quickly moved on in terms of tattoos in general.

When I was a child, tattoos seemed very much to be for sailors and criminals. People of all classes sneered at them.

Today, they are almost de rigueur.

But not on the face or neck - please.

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