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Since the dawn of time, 'bad boys' have been a common trope in dating parlance.
But a quick scroll through your timeline today would suggest that a bad boy is little more than someone who happens to have a couple of tattoos.
Case in point: the new season of Too Hot To Handle, in which contestant Stevan Ditter has been labelled as such by his fellow contestants, narrator Desiree Burch and even viewers - all because of his body art.
When model and contestant Nathan asks his female cast mates whether they like “bad boys or good boys,” Georgia and Beaux don't hesitate to answer.
"Bad boys!" they trill.
Narrator Desiree jumps in and says: “Speaking of bad boys… you are in luck” as footage of Stevan walking to meet the others is shown backed by music including the lyrics “bad, bad man” - just in case you didn't get the point.
“Sleeve tattoos, check, just got out of bed hair, check,” Desiree says.
Stevan is introduced to us a BB and even Stevan himself plays up to the steriotype, despite fans noting that he is far from being 'bad'.
A viral tweet written by a fan said: “….Just cause Stevan has tattoos and wear nail polish doesn’t make him a 'bad boy'".
One viewer agreed and replied: “Exactly in 2022 tattoos and polish on anyone is just regular.”
And this isn’t the first time we’ve heard this take on ink, just three months ago former Little Mix member Jesy Nelson bragged about her love for bad boys with “tattoos and gold teeth”.
So are we doing tattooed men a disservice with this somewhat lazy stereotype? After all, while tattoos were once synonymous with bad behaviour, they have since entered well and truly into the mainstream of fashion and pop culture.
Relationship therapist Charisse Cooke says associating bad behaviour with tattoos, even if you find rebellious guys attractive, is outdated.
“To our parents' generation, tattoos symbolised an act of rebellion," she tells Tyla. "They were unconventional, associated with delinquent - or even illegal - behaviour and would prevent someone from 'getting a proper job.'
“Nowadays those ideas are hugely outdated, and getting tattoos is as much a form of expression as dyeing our hair or the clothes we wear."
Digital expert Harvey Morton agrees, adding that heavily tattooed celebrities such as David Beckham have helped to reduce the stigma surrounding tattoos and the image of a ‘bad boy’.
He explains: “Reality shows have delivered overpowering masculinity to our screens and this only reinforces the idea that tattoos are a sign of a ‘bad boy’, but this idea should be based on an individual’s personality rather than their appearance.
"Jesy Nelson’s song contains so many outdated stereotypes around men with ‘tattoos and gold teeth’, enabling a dangerous narrative that needs to be left in the past.
Charisse notes that tattoos don’t make someone a bad boy and stereotyping should be avoided, even if no serious harm is meant by it. “Having tattoos does not automatically make a man a ‘bad boy’.
“The best way to judge anyone is to get to know them and get an understanding of their values and character as a person. This has far more meaning and importance than how they look.”
Charisse adds that women’s attraction to men in this category often stems from a love of “danger and intrigue”; some women may feel the “biological drive to nurture” and look after and “save” bad boys.
She adds: “Bad boys may well be seen as exciting, however they often have a highly avoidant attachment style which makes relationships with them extremely challenging.
"Beyond the addictive highs and lows of such a drama-filled relationship, progressing and creating a secure and happy future can be quite unlikely.
“Responsibility and commitment for ‘bad boys’ or avoidantly attachment individuals is something they actively distance themselves from.
“This means that although thrilling initially, these relationships are deeply unsatisfying and can create big problems if the woman’s goals are to have children and a long-term partnership.”
Featured Image Credit: Netflix
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