Lesya's Extreme Facial Tattoo
Today, Shannon of BMEzine posted on Modblog the story behind the facial tattoo of Lesya, a beautiful young woman from Russia who radically altered her appearance by having her new lover tattoo his name across her face.
This naturally went viral -- just like the story of the girl with 56 stars tattooed on her face in 2009. Both of these women have something in common. Both were tattooed by the same man: Rouslan Toumaniantz.
Tattooing, in many forms, can elicit a reaction from a viewer, positive or negative, in different ways. Facial tattoos often attract the strongest of reactions. The reactions to Lesya's tattoo are the strongest of the strong, and naturally so, particularly in light of the back story, which Shannon offers in his post. Here's a bit from it:
About a month ago, Rouslan Toumaniantz, a well known and sometimes notorious Belgium-based tattoo artist (of Tattoo Box in Kortrijk), and Lesya, a designer living at the time in Saransk, a city in central Russia started talking via chat (Rouslan speaks fluent Russian) and realized they had a lot in common, and quickly began falling head over heels in love. About a week ago they met in person in Moscow and decided to get married -- their plans for their life together include her learning to tattoo (Rouslan tells me she's already a talented artist), apprenticing under her husband-to-be, while she also gets the full-body ink that she's always dreamed of (biomech is the current plan) -- and of course a family.Read more of the post and see additional photos here.
As you can see from the nude photo of Lesya and Rouslan on Modblog, the facial tattoo is the only major body modification she has. This has also fueled the controversy surrounding it.
So you have two camps: the cheers and the jeers.
Shannon notes interesting downfalls, including the association with gangs like MS-13, who have prominent facial tattoos that are often stylized in a similar way. However, he places the focus on their "commitment to love" and how "sometimes the best decisions are the ones you make in an instant with your heart rather than the ones long-debated in your mind." Indeed, there have been many times where I've fully agreed with this latter statement. There are many times that I haven't. Which is why this is heartbreaking to me.
I don't want to be in the jeers crowd. Here is a young woman who is in love and this is the way she has chosen to show her commitment. I cannot muster my usual snobbery. But I also cannot suppress feelings of anger towards this new love of hers, Rouslan, who in the most brazen of ways, marked this girl, forever changing her life. I wonder if he will shoulder the full responsibility of this for the longevity of the tattoo. To me, this seems more like marking one's property, rather than caring or nurturing your bride to be.
I often flippantly say the old maxim, "You get the tattoo you deserve." But this is not true all the time. Sometimes, there's got to be someone who educates and guides, who keeps impulses in check, and acts ethically. I believe that tattooists should largely shoulder this responsibility when it comes to clients, especially young ones. And I most firmly believe this when the tattooist has an intimate connection to the one being tattooed.
Lesya's photo has been popping up all over Facebook today. Some postings are of the point-and-laugh variety, others have touted it as "inspiring" and "the ultimate" in body modification.
To me, the ultimate in body modification is a commitment to the best form of expression of the best of who you are. It's a shame that her expression belongs to that of another person.
I commend Shannon for taking a positive approach to this work and seeing the beauty in it. And I stand with him in wishing that they realize their dreams and proving skeptics like myself wrong.