In Divergent people's appearances tell a lot about them. The Abnegation faction who value selflessness wear only grey and plain hairstyles. Many of the Erudite people who value knowledge wear glasses, which Beatrice is sure for most of them is only to look smarter. At the choosing ceremony Beatrice leaves the faction of her youth to attempt initiation into the Dauntless--the faction that values bravery or overcoming fear. They live underground and wear black. They get piercings and tattoos.
Beatrice, who changes her name to Triss as a Dauntless initiate, slowly changes her plain grey appearance to fit her faction. Over the course of her training she gets a number of tattoos. She gets three birds tattooed across her collar bone, one for each member of her family that she left behind. She gets a tattoo of the symbol of her Dauntless faction, and a hidden tattoo of her old faction, which is still a part of her. The tattoos are so symbolic and so meaningful. Just a part of such a greater struggle--that I found myself for the first time almost wanting a tattoo.
I will never get a tattoo. A lot of the reasons why are summed up very eloquently in a Red Vs Blue "PSA" Should you get a Tattoo?" Of which the following is an edited transcript:
Church: You know, a lot of you out there are probably considering getting a tattoo. Or, as the young people like to call it, a "tat."
Grif: Or, adding a tattoo to your already impressive collection.
Church: So today we present to you, a very special "Point/Counterpoint" edition of Red Vs. Blue.
Grif: Should you get, a tattoo?
Church: I think it's quite clear, that you should not get a tattoo. And I can sum up my points in this very elegant, but simple, bulleted list.
Number one: tattoos, are permanent.
Number two: you are an idiot. And I'd like to prove this mathematically if I may. Take your current age. Now subtract ten years from it. Were you smart back then? Of course you weren't. You were an idiot. Fact of the matter is, you're just as big an idiot today, it's just gonna take you ten more years to realize. Now think if you'd drawn a picture on your body ten years ago. Would you be happy with it today? Chances are, you wouldn't be.
Grif: Unless it was cool, which brings me to my main point. Tattoos, are cool, as long as you avoid the following rookie mistakes... you'll be just fine.
The barb wire ring. Nothing says 1998 quite like a barb wire ring around your bicep. You'll look like a defensive lineman, and if you get the tattoo, you're probably about as smart as one.
The band logo. Any band logo. Think about it. The only pop star to remain cool for more than ten years was Madonna, and you're not fooling anybody by getting a tattoo of her.
Grif: Lastly, and most importantly, are the tribal designs, and the Asian character. No one gets it! Let's be honest, you don't either. Someone had to explain it to you, and you have no idea if they were even telling you the truth. So, avoid these simple pitfalls, and a tattoo can be a wonderful, and rewarding experience. ...except for the pain.
So basically this jokes about how people get tattoos because they think they are cool or meaningful, but really they are just a mistake that they regret in ten years. (I can't say for sure because I don't have any)
I think what I was feeling more though, was the desire to be a part of something so epic and so meaningful. Saying that feels almost sacrilegious though, because I know that I am a part of great things, but my personal part seems so small. And I do have epic personal battles I'm fighting, but nothing that would translate well into a tattoo.
I guess something that appeals to me about this practice of the factions all having their own sort of dress code is the idea of people knowing something about you by looking at you. I know I've talked before about not subscribing to labels, but sometimes I wish people could know more about me by looking at me. It's out of loneliness, I suppose, and I figure that if people knew more about me they would be interested in being my friend? (Does that sound conceited, or desperate? Unfortunately the truth is more of the second.)
After my sister got Lasik surgery she talked about wanting to keep her super-cute pair of geek girl plastic frame glasses, and maybe even have plain glass put in them so she could still wear them sometimes. My mom told her "No way!" She had, of course, just spent a few thousand dollars on my sister's surgery, and referenced all the years my sister had "whined" about having to wear glasses. So she sent them to me instead (Thanks Eve!) and I had lenses put in and wore them in college.
A few years ago I had Lasik/PRK surgery as well. And I'll admit--I sometimes wish I could wear those glasses again. They just made a certain "statement."
I believe in modesty in appearance. Avoiding extremes in clothing and hairstyles. Fashion also isn't really my thing. I wear a lot of hand-me-downs, and a lot of "basic wardrobe" type pieces, because I don't make it to the fun things before deciding that my budget is done. I feel like that translates into me looking boring and reserved, and thus me looking like a boring and reserved person. I often wish that I looked more like I feel--which is in itself hard to define. . . spunky and fun, quirky, intelligent, thoughtful, hopeful.
I don't really know what the answer is. Sometimes I wish I could make all my own clothes-- I like how Doctrine and Covenants section 42 says to let the beauty of our clothes be the beauty of the work of our own hands. I would like to do that more as I often don't feel like clothing in the stores represents who I feel like inside.
I do regularly dye purple streaks into my hair. It's because that feels like me. When I feel like I look like me I am happier and more self-confident. I know that it is all external and doesn't affect who I am inside. But God gave me my eyes, and my intelligence, so therefore my perception of external things is meaningful. I can't help it. So I'll keep my purple streaks (which to me is the same practice as others painting their fingernails) and no, I won't be going out and getting any tattoos soon, but I still do sometimes wish I could wear my geek girl glasses.