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Tattoo Ideas: Straight Edge XXX

Updated on July 27, 2007
Straight Edge practitioners do not drink, smoke or do drugs
Straight Edge practitioners do not drink, smoke or do drugs

I was straight edge once. In fact, in my high school picture from sophomore year I'm wearing a hooded sweatshirt that says "Straight Edge" across the front. Except the photo cuts off just below my chest, so all you can see is the word "Straight" in huge, bright letters, which I find hilarious, because I'm totally not.

Straight edge is a lifestyle as well as a state of mind, a subset of punk rock culture born from the hardcore music scene in the early 1980's. Those who believe in it do not smoke, drink or use drugs of any kind. Some of the more stringent believers also abstain from sexual intercourse, caffeine and/or eating meat. It's origins are traced back to the 1981 song "Straight Edge" by the hardcore-punk band Minor Threat.

Singer Ian MacKaye wrote the lyrics, "I'm a person just like you / But I've got better things to do / Than sit around and f*** my head / Hang out with the living dead / Snort white s*** up my nose / Pass out at the shows / I don't even think about speed / That's something I just don't need." He held that abstaining from drugs and alcohol gave him an advantage, or an edge, over those who abused narcotics.

The symbol usually associated with the straight edge lifestyle is three black X's in a row, which means no drinking, no smoking, no drugs, or the letters "sXe". Supposedly, the history behind the X dates back to 1980. The Teen Idles were on tour in San Francisco, and when they arrived at Mabuhay Gardens to play their set, the manager learned the entire band was underage. In order to allow them entry into the club, he marked their hands with a large black X, meaning they were not to be served alcohol. When the Teen Idles returned home to Washington, D.C., they began implementing this system at local venues so that teenagers would be allowed to come see their shows without management having to worry that they would inadvertently be served liquor.

Common sayings linked with the scene are "true ‘til death", "poison free", "One life. One chance." and "stay gold". Another popular quote incorporated into straight edge tattoos is "for those I love, I will sacrifice" which hails from the song "Hallowed be thy Name" by the hardcore band Indecision. No matter how many straight edge tattoos I see, I am always amazed at the different variations and interpretations of the traditional marking: a black sheep to represent being the odd man out in a crowd full of sameness, a Hello Kitty cartoon with a black X on her hands, a beating heart with a "True ‘Til Death" banner stretched across it, and plenty more.

[images courtesy of bmezine + mostpreciousblood]


"These ties that bind will not be broken"
"These ties that bind will not be broken"
"Out of step with the world"
"Out of step with the world"
Gaelic for "drug free"
Gaelic for "drug free"
"Never again will I let opinion rule reason" done in the handwriting of the guy with the tattoo
"Never again will I let opinion rule reason" done in the handwriting of the guy with the tattoo

XXX + sXe Tattoos



"For those I love, I will sacrifice"
"For those I love, I will sacrifice"


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    • Jakobs profile image


      9 years ago from East Coast, USA

      OMG...the tic tac toe and hello kittie edge tats are awesome.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      wow. i was already thinking about getting 'for those i love, i will sacrifice' because my family is everything to me. but im also straight edge too. great. double meaning. woot!

    • profile image

      Writer Rider 

      10 years ago

      Woohoo! I hope that I helped launch its popularity, I think I did.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I love all these picutres, but now im having touble debating on which on i want (:


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