Blog Entry

Image is everything: On tattoos and perception

Posted on: July 24, 2011 2:02 pm
Edited on: July 24, 2011 2:34 pm
Posted by Royce Young

Maybe you don't remember the old Canon Andre Agassi commercials. But I'm sure you remember the tagline. Image is everything.

Sure, it was just a clever way to tie in high-quality pictures with a tennis star who had quite a rebellious, care-free image, but that idea lives on. Especially with high-profile athletes. Marketing, branding, visibility, likability -- all that crap is essentially what leads to more money. The more people like you, the more people trust you. So when you endorse a product, whether it be a brand or even yourself, appearance and image, are what matter.

And nobody in the NBA has a more squeaky-clean image than Kevin Durant. He's a superstar, but one that's humble, soft-spoken, team-oriented, committed, loyal and basically 50 other words describing how good a dude he is. He caught a lot of attention when he sheepishly announced his grand five-year max extension with the Thunder while LeBron was prepping for a one-hour special, but it goes back a lot farther than that. He would run the scoreboard in college at Texas during intramural games. He plays video games with neighborhood kids. He signs every autograph. He introduces himself as you wouldn't know who he was. "Hi, I'm Kevin." I mean, we're talking about a global basketball superstar that has two straight scoring titles, was the second-leading vote-getter in the West last season and one of the most visible and brightest stars in the league.

So in terms of image, Durant has about as good a one as you can get. I think you'd have a better chance of finding the Holy Grail than finding someone with a bad word about KD. You know a guy is solid when other fan bases say things like, "Yeah, I can't hate KD. He's just too awesome."

Which is why you might be surprised to know that picture up top is actually of Durant. A lot of people were stunned to see the clean-cut, humble dude from conservative Oklahoma City so inked up. As a result, it started a minor frenzy. Virtually every major blog has picked up the photo of Durant standing in China with his shirt off and subsequently shocked the masses by what was revealed: Kevin Durant has tattoos. Not just one, either. Lots of them.

But what caught so much attention isn't the fact that he has them. It's where he has them. Not on his arms. Not on his neck. Not on his wrist, leg or shoulder. KD only has tattoos on his chest. Almost in a comical square pattern. Almost like he has them there so that they'll stay covered up when he's wearing, you know, a basketball jersey.

Some have wondered: Is this just KD maintaining his image?

Potentially. And if so, you kind of have to respect that self-awareness of his image and brand.

I understand that with tattoos, along comes a certain perception of the person getting them. Especially when they come in excess as in Durant's case. It's a pathetic stereotype, but there's a certain thinking that if a person has a bunch of tattoos, that must say something about who they are, something about their character. You didn't see a bunch of ink all over Martin Luther King Jr. or the Dali Lama. Obviously, that's silly, but that type of idea is unavoidable.

Which is why some have figured that Durant is trying to have the best of both worlds with his tattoos. Keep up that sharp-dressed-man look on the court with clean arms, but have his ink hidden underneath where it would only be seen if for some reason the NBA went shirts versus skins.

I get that theory. It makes sense. But it shouldn't matter. Durant got the tattoos because he wanted them. He had them put on his chest because that's where he wanted them. And if he wants one on his shoulder or arm, he'll get it. Durant is always, always himself. The image people have of him is great, but he's not trying to live up to that. He's not changing who he is just to try and be the person we all think he is or should be. He's simply just going to be him. If some ink on his skin changes the way someone looks at him as a brand, a role model or a player, I think that says a lot more about the person than it does about Durant.

The entire Thunder team has sort of been branded as this choir-boy bunch of kids that say yes ma'am and no sir while having no piercings or nasty body art. Maybe that's because it really fits the conservative nature of Oklahoma and people ate up the fact that the players adhered more to weird community social standards than to the perceived "thug life" of the NBA. With Durant being the face of the franchise, everything fell in step behind him.

But if he has ink, what does that say about the perfect little Thunder? Can we not root for that team now? Should fans not love them as much? Do we tell kids in school not to be like them now? I mean, really, how stupid is it that all of this is because of some ink on a guy's skin?

There is a line and even David Stern acknowledged it when he instituted the dress code a few years ago. There's a certain level of professionalism that has to be upheld for the general public to be able to be to connect with players. It's a touchy area, but understandable. I suppose you could apply those same principles to Durant and his ink, but what does it matter?

A lot of stars have tattoos all over their bodies. Kobe and LeBron have clearly visible ink. Some players don't -- like Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. Most would've had Durant in that category, too. But does now seeing him inked really change anything? And more importantly, should it?

Ink is ink, a player is a player and most importantly, a person is a person. All three aren't necessarily related.


Since: Aug 27, 2010
Posted on: July 26, 2011 3:46 pm

Image is everything: On tattoos and perception

Mark yourselves up, live with the consequences.
Consequences? Like what? An eagle will come down and eat my baby because I got a tattoo? Coming from someone with an guy with a sleeve of tattoos on his avatar.

I hope your wife gets a tattoo without telling you, then you would jump off a bridge pal.

Since: Jul 26, 2011
Posted on: July 26, 2011 3:13 pm

Image is everything: On tattoos and perception

Mr. Young...Do you find it gratifying to try and stereotype someone of sound moral and ethical values because of...tattoos?

Kevin Durant is a self proclaimed lover of the Lord.  I, for one, believe that he is just that.  He thanks God first in every interview I have ever seen after a game.  Having said that, did anyone bother to really look at what he "inked" on his chest?

I will list two very inspiring tatts that I noticed right away:

"The fear of the Lord teaches us more wisdom, and humility comes before honour".  Proverbs 15:33
And finally...
"Walk by faith Not by sight"

So do we view KD by faith that he is who he proclaims or do we make a decision on his character by judging him for putting scriptures from the bible on his chest.  And for all who would rather wallow in the latter...I give you this:

A fool's mouth is his undoing,
and his lips are a snare to his soul.
The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;
they go down to a man's inmost parts.    Proverbs 18:7-8

Maybe your finger tips to a keyboard are acting like a fool's mouth on this particular subject.

Since: Oct 3, 2006
Posted on: July 26, 2011 2:43 pm

Image is everything: On tattoos and perception

More often than not, people with tatoos are scumbags. If I had to trust a complete stranger, and I had a choice between some one with tats and some one without, I'd choose the person without. All you tat-brandishing douches can take offense, I don't give a shit. Mark yourselves up, live with the consequences.

Since: Aug 27, 2010
Posted on: July 26, 2011 1:43 pm

Image is everything: On tattoos and perception

Above, don't you think it would be kinda funny if you knew I was a white-city-kid-suburban-family-life

style?? I tell people to F off because I could care less about someone's opinion. Don't question my tattoos, because you'll get a mouthful.

Since: Mar 21, 2007
Posted on: July 26, 2011 1:03 pm

Image is everything: On tattoos and perception

Squeaky-clean means ultra-conservative and modest, but the definition of squeaky-clean is subjective.  When you see how vehemently a couple of posters have responded in this thread, it shows why some people still take objection to body art, and why it still raises some suspicion--to some.

Below, it's kind of funny, don't you think, that you tell people who take objection to your tattoos to eff off?  Doesn't that reinforce the stereotype? 

Since: Aug 27, 2010
Posted on: July 26, 2011 12:42 pm

Image is everything: On tattoos and perception

The world of tattoos gets sterotyped on a daily basis. I persoanlly take offense to it because I have 4 with 2 being visible at all times. Employers are starting to not care because almost everyone has at least 1 tattoo nowadays. It's a bad sterotype and if someone has something to say to me I usually tell them Fuck You. Like my sister in-law who think my tattoos have no meaning but my brother's 1 tattoo does. Fuck that stupid twat.

Tattoos are an art, a mode of expression and belief, a beautiful thing to say the least. And with the technologies nowadays, no, not all tattoos go bad and fuzzy so-to-speak. So people need to learn a bit more before they got flappin their jaws about how anyone that has a tattoo is trouble. I hate people like that. Get over yourselves.

Since: Nov 12, 2006
Posted on: July 26, 2011 12:28 pm

Image is everything: On tattoos and perception

However, one cannot be so-called "squeaky-clean" and have tattoos.
Huh?  Why?  That's like saying "one cannot drive a Toyota and have tattoos".  Or drink soda.  Or prefer curly fries over wedge fries.  None of those choices reveal a single thing about the individual's character.  But it reveals a lot about people taking the easy route and stereotyping.  Maybe judging people individually is just too hard for them.

Since: Sep 5, 2009
Posted on: July 26, 2011 10:40 am

Image is everything: On tattoos and perception

@5+20+34=17- your comments regarding Durant needing to get more muscle-bound are completely moronic.  One of the greatest players in NBA history had a build with hardly any muscle tone at all.  And he wore number 33 for the Celtics.  Furthermore, no one gives a crap if you are more built than Durant.  You must suck as a b-ball player compared to KD or else you wouldn't be working at True Value while Durant is an NBA All-Star.

Since: Aug 27, 2010
Posted on: July 26, 2011 8:26 am

Image is everything: On tattoos and perception

PupStar --- I'm just surprised the league have not made some strict rules yet................

Dude I could give a rat's arse that you are a Navy Vet. Why do you even have to point that out?? And since you are a Navy Vet, why are you using 16-year old sayings like "lol" and "LMAO?" Get a life pal.

And if you think one second that the league is going to make rules regarding tattoos you must be the biggest moron in the world. It would never pass as a rule and every player would win a lawsuit in court. Some people are so dumb.

Since: Mar 21, 2007
Posted on: July 26, 2011 3:55 am

Image is everything: On tattoos and perception

This article was essentially on Yahoo already.  It seems like some people are misunderstanding the writer's tone.  Tattoos themselves don't make somebody a bad person, Kevin Durant included.  However, one cannot be so-called "squeaky-clean" and have tattoos.  Durant is still a good, upstanding citizen with these tattoos, yada yada.

I do not have any, and I never advocate for people I personally know to get one, but I tend to agree with what an earlier poster said: that it is more impressive nowadays when someone (especially an NBA baller) DOESN'T have tattoos, being that they're becoming cliched.  I'd like to presume the body ink fad has subsided in 2011, but I don't think any of us really knows.  


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