Huberman Tattoos: The Hidden Story

This article is a summary of the YouTube video ‘The Story Behind Andrew Huberman’s Tattoos & Why He Hides Them’ by Chris Williamson

Written by: Recapz Bot

Written by: Recapz Bot

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How does it work?
The speaker started getting tattoos at a young age and currently has full sleeves, which are personal expressions; initially done at home, inspired by skateboarders with full sleeves, the speaker prefers not to show them during presentations, as tattoos were not widely accepted when growing up and maintains a formal appearance; advising younger people to consider others’ perceptions, they believe in personal freedom as long as it doesn’t harm others, with a life mission to teach about biology.

Key Insights

  • The speaker started getting tattoos at a young age and currently has full sleeves.
  • The tattoos are personal expressions of what the speaker feels on the inside.
  • The tattoos were initially done at home, which is not recommended due to bad infections and undesirable results.
  • The speaker was inspired by skateboarders with full sleeves and looked up to them.
  • The speaker prefers not to show their tattoos during podcasts or lectures as it can be distracting and wants the focus to be on the information being shared.
  • Tattoos were not widely accepted when the speaker was growing up, but attitudes have changed.
  • The speaker maintains a formal appearance to be taken seriously by the audience.
  • The tattoos are not particularly interesting, mostly featuring the speaker's dog and various birds.
  • The speaker advises younger people to consider others' perceptions and mentions that face and throat tattoos can change the way a person's face is perceived.
  • The speaker believes people should live their lives the way they want as long as they're not harming others.
  • The speaker's life mission is to teach people about biology and finds joy in doing so.

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Another thing that has carried over from your youth are your tattoos, which I’ve heard you talk about but never seen. What’s your relationship with your tattoos and why has no one ever seen them?

Yeah, yeah, actually it was Tim Ferriss that outed me on this one. He was like, “I found a picture on the internet with you in full sleeves.” Yeah, you know, I believe that tattoos are a literal expression of what we feel on the inside. And, you know, I’m not recommending this, kids, don’t do this. I started getting tattooed really young, oh yeah, about 14. I got my first tattoo. No way, we did them ourselves. Please don’t do this, India ain’t gonna needle and um, we used to do these, it’s really bad. They’re called knickknack tattoos or we kind of would do this at home. Don’t do it, it’s really bad to get bad infections. They’re ugly, they blur, they bleed, that’s not good.

Yeah, I started getting tattooed when I was a kid and growing up skateboarding in the punk rock scene. There were these guys in the town where I lived, they called themselves the Yahtzee guys. I don’t know why, I don’t know what that was about, but they all had full sleeves and they were super nice guys and they were all into skateboarding and vehicles. And, you know, and I just looked up to these guys. I thought, “I like someday I want full sleeves.” Yeah, I’ve got full sleeves, I’m basically neck to wrist. So the chest piece is yeah, back’s covered. Yeah, nothing on my legs, nothing on my stomach ribs. Yeah, yeah, tops of my shoulders and I got a big picture of Costello my dog back there. I’ve got a picture of his paw back there. I’ve got a picture of another dog, used to have. There’s still some space for a few things, there’s some things very personal to me.

Is that the reason that you prefer not to show them?

Yeah, you know, I think that there are a couple reasons, I’ll just be clear as to why. First of all, when I show up to a podcast, it’s the same way I show up to lecture in the classroom or auditorium. And I swear on my life, this is my mindset and this is my mantra when I do it, I’m there to teach. It’s not about me, it’s about the student, it’s about the people learning. I don’t want it ever to be about me. I don’t want the focus to be on me. I mean, obviously, I’m the voice and the person talking, but I really want people to internalize the information. And I do think that the tattoos, because they have nothing to do with the information, are a distraction. They’re just a distraction. I don’t know, it would sort of like be wearing a bright yellow shirt or something. It’s not my style. I prefer to kind of make myself disappear as much as I can and let the information come forward.

That’s, you know, even when I gave scientific lectures, which I still do, of course, for my professor job, I generally liked the room to be pretty dark and I wanted the light to be on the data, on the slides. I was happy to do the voice, but I want people thinking about the data. So podcasting is a little different, to come through as a voice, not, we’re on YouTube, a voice and an image. But I really prefer that it not be about me. Now, there’s a human element too and I think things have changed a lot. When I was growing up, tattoos were not accepted. There are many work environments where if you have, for instance, where people prefer that their surgeon or their doctor not have tattoos. Some people might prefer their surgeon or doctor have tattoos. When I was growing up, if you had a, I never had one, but if someone had a nose ring, they had to cover it up with a band-aid or take it out if they worked at the coffee shop. Remember that? You probably don’t, you’re probably young enough, know or that, or eyebrow ring. I think trends have changed, right? Things have changed and I’m kind of old school because I’m kind of old now, 46, and the etiquette for me has always been, you know, and this is Lex does this too, is I personally find that if I can just show up as formal and consistent as possible, that people will at least know that I’m taking them seriously. So, I don’t really do it for me, I pretty much do it for the audience. Also, none of the tattoos are like that interesting. It’s my dog. I really like Raptors. I’ve got a bunch of birds. I mean, I have all sorts of different raptors, like the dinosaur, no, raptors like redtail hawks and blue, you know, I like right, I had either dinosaurs or trucks. Yeah, you know, you’d really need to love Ford Raptors. No, no, no Ford Raptor, I drive a Toyota 4Runner and I love it. I’ve got one truck and I love that thing. Although, with gas right now, I mean, it’s, you kind of got to wonder about having a gas-driven vehicle like a 4Runner, in any case. Yeah, the tattoo thing, I would say for younger people coming up, just be aware that you can’t control other people’s perceptions either. And so, you know, I always made it a point that I didn’t want things on my knuckles, I didn’t want them on my hands, I didn’t want them on my neck, I didn’t want them on my face. Do I judge people when they have them? No, but do I want them for me? No. I also think that this is very neuroscience-y, as neuroscience is, that we have dedicated brain areas called fusiform gyrus face area that’s dedicated to the processing of faces. Even if I just put two dots and a line in between them on a piece of paper, you see that as a face. When one puts a tattoo on their throat or on their face, it actually changes the way that the face is perceived, right? I mean, it almost looks like another mouth there, right? It’s a very different look. It can be a little bit jarring. I’m not saying one shouldn’t have it, but it can be a little bit jarring. It changes the look of the person forever. It’s not just that it’s above the neckline, it’s that it kind of competes with the processing of their face in its normal way. And so, for me, whenever I see somebody with a throat tattoo or a face tattoo, sort of like, it’s hard to orient around that. And I think there’s some biology to that, that relates to that. But look, when it comes down to it, I mean, you do you. People need to be individuals and live their life the way they want to live their life. I’ve also never been that much of an iconoclast. I’m not, you know, I grew up in the punk rock thing, you know, I hate in-group, out-group stuff. I always had friends from a lot of different, you know, friends are jocks and hippies and punk rockers and, you know, straight and gay and, like, I don’t care as long as people are living their best life and they’re not harming anybody, like, I’m like, great, go for it. I’m very laid-back in that way. Of course, if people are harming other people, then I believe that, like, Liberty and independent freed, I mean, Liberty is, you know, one of the highest things, you know, for me, so… But I don’t tend to consider myself a very judgmental person, but you can’t always control the perceptions of others. So, I would just think people should be thoughtful about what they want to accomplish in life in terms of a life mission and just ask whether or not some of the permanent cosmetic changes they might make might align with, compete with, or be neutral for those life missions.

My life mission is very simple, I want to teach people the beauty and the utility of biology. I’m gonna do that today, I’m gonna do that until I take my last breath in one form or another because that’s what excites me, and that’s like what keeps the dopamine cranking. What’s happening, people? If you enjoyed that, then press here for the full unedited episode, and don’t forget to subscribe. Peace.

This article is a summary of the YouTube video ‘The Story Behind Andrew Huberman’s Tattoos & Why He Hides Them’ by Chris Williamson