A quick Google survey of the effect of weight change on the durability of tattoos reassured me that because the tattoo was on her back, it was less vulnerable to weight change than if the tattoo had been on her abdomen, thighs or biceps. And apparently the integrity of the ink would be compromised only if major changes in weight, either up or down, occurred. Extra folds of skin due to weight loss could distort details, and stretch marks from major weight gain might change the shape and even the color of a tattoo. Indeed, some comments on this subject were accompanied by pictures of how the writer's tattoo changed with weight gain and loss, going, for example, from an oval to a circle with the expansion of her tummy during pregnancy.
Given the popularity of this type of permanent body adornment, it occurred to me that tattooing might be an effective way of tracking weight change. Most of us hate to get on a scale when we think we have gained weight. We also don't even try on a piece of clothing that fit us when we were, for five seconds, at our lowest weight. Why punish ourselves with the obvious? We know we are heavier than we should be. So often it is only when we go for our yearly checkup that the news of our extra poundage is conveyed.
What if we had a built-in monitor of our weight fluctuations? What if every time we showered, we became aware that weight was coming on or happily coming off? Might we be more inclined to stop the weight gain before it became excessive, or continue to lose weight because of our initial success?
A tattoo might be the perfect weight-change indicator. It could be located on an area on the body, say the hips, that enlarge and shrink as weight was gained or lost. And its shape should be sensitive to changes in the tautness or looseness of the skin. Think of how useful this might be. You are in the shower on a Monday morning after a weekend of excessive eating and drink and notice that a tattoo of a quarter moon is now turning into a full moon. “Time to cut back,” you'd say to yourself, “I don't want to find a full moon by next week.”
I suspect that more research on the part of skin-weight change specialists and tattoo artists has to be done before such a technique becomes a useful weight-loss tool. But seriously, how are people who are beginning to gain weight going to stop denying what is happening before the weight gain becomes almost too hard to stop? Two friends whom I see about once a month are now gaining back weight that it took for each more than a year to lose. One has gained more than 50 pounds and the other about 20. At this point, it is obvious to them, and to those who know them. Maybe they will stop gaining and, like the ebbing of the tide, start to lose again.
But maybe a tattoo or some other marker on their skin would have aborted their weight gain before it became unmanageable. Years ago, I knew a doctor who outfitted his weight-loss patients with a cord around their waist when they reached their goal. He told them that if they gained weight, the cord would be uncomfortable. Alas, they did gain weight, the cord became uncomfortable and they (as he told me latter) cut it off. A tattoo is different. It can be removed only with difficulty, pain and great expense. And if it keeps people at a healthy weight, then its function will be more than decorative.]]>