Apparently This Matters: Face tattoos

Friday, February 8, 2013 - 7:42am

Editor's note: Each week in "Apparently This Matters," CNN's Jarrett Bellini applies his warped sensibilities to trending topics in social media and random items of interest on the Web.

When I was young, I remember that encountering an individual with a nose piercing seemed to mean something. Specifically: This person kills puppies.

Of course, nose piercings never actually meant anything. It was (and is) just body art.

That said, baseless conclusions used to come easy. Back then, it was rather unusual to see a person who'd willingly popped a fresh hole in his or her face when that face was doing just fine with the ones that came punched out from the factory.

But times have changed. Now nose piercings aren't a big deal. And to the best of my knowledge, none of my punctured friends have murdered any puppies.

Yet.

Not surprisingly, when it comes to these modern forms of personal expression, the simple, elegant nose stud has earned far more widespread acceptance than the almighty face tattoo.

Maybe it's because there are still not enough of them out there. After all, they're permanent.

And whereas piercings can easily be removed, there's a certain level of fierce commitment that comes with injecting dark ink directly into your face.

"Yay! In 60 years I'll still love dolphins!"

Five minutes later ...

"Well, that was a rather misguided decision."

However, almost nothing stacks up to the bizarre trending story this week from Europe involving a tattoo artist named Rouslan Toumaniantz.

You see, Toumaniantz met the girl of his dreams, Lesya, in an Internet chat room. They fell in love, and finally decided to meet face to face in Moscow. Presumably to wrestle a bear.

That's a standard first date in Russia. Look it up.

However, what makes this all really fun is that within 24 hours of meeting, Toumaniantz had, with consent, tattooed an alternate spelling of his first name over Lesya's face.

"Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy. ..."

Now, when I say he tattooed his name over her face, we're talking full cheek-to-cheek, gothic-style, see-it-from-space lettering. The kind of tattoo so outrageously big and bold and crazy that parents can't even really get mad.

"Your mother and I have discussed this, and we've decided to take a cruise."

Fortunately, the new, happy couple are getting married, and they have big plans to stay together forever. So not to worry. This can't possibly go wrong.

But here's the kicker. Toumaniantz is the same tattoo artist who, in 2009, made international headlines after he inked 56 stars on the face of a Belgian woman named Kimberley Vlaeminck.

Normally, that wouldn't be newsworthy. But, after the ink session was over, the woman claimed she only asked for three stars near her eye, and that the tattooist just kept adding more and more as she fell asleep in the chair.

Ultimately, this turned out to be a lie. She later admitted that she had, indeed, asked for all 56 stars but was scared about what her dad would say.

"Your mother and I have discussed this, and we've decided to keep you in a box."

This was three years ago, and when news of this girl's starry tattooed face hit the Web, naturally it went viral, and even spawned a website for The Kimberlizer -- a photo game where you position your head for a webcam and it instantly adds 56 stars to your face.

Today, the game still exists. And so do the real tattoo stars on Vlaeminck's face. So you know -- she's got that going for her.

But in this latest popular story from Moscow, Lesya still seems more than happy with her new face full of ink. Which is great!

Really, it's just the size of the tattoo that confounds the rest of us. For had her man simply used 12-point Times New Roman and inked his name near her eyebrow, this wouldn't even be a big deal.

Comic Sans, on the other hand? Death by firing squad.

Nevertheless, this particular face tat is big and bold, and definitely not going anywhere.

"It's a symbol of our eternal devotion," Britain's The Sun tabloid quoted Lesya as saying. "I'd like him to tattoo every inch of my body."

Modern face tattoos (even cool ones such as Mike Tyson's eye tribal) definitely have a long way to go before they reach the same level of social acceptance as nose piercings. But they will. It's definitely happening.

So go ahead and get that dolphin. Or maybe even a lover's name, beautifully scrolled across your forehead.

Just don't use Comic Sans.

"Your mother and I have discussed this, and we've decided to take the firing squad on a cruise. When they're done."

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