Back in 2008, before poop emojis were commonly used in texts and tweets, and seen in cartoons and on kids’ swag, Waterloo resident Ryan King took a year off from school and taught English in Korea.
Very quickly Ryan noticed a strange obsession had a hold of his young students - when they finished their tests they would turn them over and draw pictures of poo. They would ask him what he had eaten and if he had pooped after. Ryan began to see cute poops everywhere - as erasers, on pencil cases, he even saw poop pastries filled with chocolate for sale on the streets of Seoul. It became a connective theme of his time there, and he and the other teachers made a big joke about it. When he left, his friend Jeffry drew a comic for Ryan featuring a frightened roll of TP and the character of “Monster Poo”.
Ryan commemorated his experience in Korea - the quirks of the kids he taught, the bonds he built with his fellow teachers, and this new cultural trend - by getting a tattoo of the Monster Poo and the Roll of TP on the tops of his big toes. This tattoo carries with it the duality at the core of the trend - the intersection of cute and crude. The gross-out imagery is juxtaposed by their tiny cute faces, as well as the modest choice of placement that virtually guarantees they’re never seen.
Ryan’s current profession as a bartender and server, has made an imprint on the tattoos too. His jobs find him taking hundreds of thousands of paces back and forth over the floors of the Starlight, Public, Jane Bond, Harmony Lunch and J & P. His shoes have shifted back and forth over the tops of his toes, over and over, day in and day out, again and again, until over time the monster poo’s jagged-toothed, screaming mouth and the terrified face of the TP have faded - almost into oblivion.
Books for Tats
Evans argues that emojis are not the taking us back into dark ages of illiteracy as some suspect, but in fact emojis, like smiling poop, enrich our ability to communicate and allow us to express our emotions and induce empathy--ultimately making us all better communicators.