Tattoo is a form of art used for self-expression and for aesthetic appeal. Before only those who served in the military had them, then individuals with questionable reputations like prisoners, gang members got them and now nearly every other young individual has one. According to the study, 40% of adults aged between 18-25 have at least one tattoo now.
Tattoos were once associated with gangs and criminals who wanted to categorize themselves but now it is gotten in memory or to honor someone, showcase artistic creativity, to beautify one’s body, to have a constant reminder of something or someone important to them, a symbol with sentimental meaning or to stand out in the crowd. However, tattoos are becoming more common and less looked down upon and has become huge craze amongst youngsters nowadays. The word tattoo is originated from two different words.
The first part of the word that is “ta” is a Polynesian word which means to hit/ smack something and the “tattoo” is derived from the Tahitian word “tatau” which means to mark or spot a little. Though no one exactly knows when and how the first tattoo exactly originated but it is believed the earliest record of tattoo was found in 1991 on the frozen remains of the Copper Age “Iceman” scientists have named Otzi. His lower back, ankles, knees, and a foot were marked with a series of small lines, made by rubbing powdered charcoal into vertical cuts.
As the years passed by other cultures such as the Celtic and Germanic with tattoos got them that were war inspired or traditional with pricking the skin to insert the dyes. Tattoos hold different significance in different parts of the world and culture. In Phillipines people get it for religious practices, Native americans get it to conserve their culture, Japan tattooing has been practiced for beautification, magic, and to mark criminals.
These days the tattoos are used for style and modified to modernized version, but previously these were used for different purposes like celebrating different religious and mythological functions and cosmetic purposes. During the earlier time the designs of the tattoos were based on things like flowers, animals, monsters etc. As the art of tattoo is becoming very popular with each passing days, so it has become a fad to have a tattoo. Though previously it was mainly due to the devotion for religious or mythology but, these days the devotion has changed and the youngsters prefer to have tattoo by following the stars, or the celebrities.
Tattoos are still a taboo. In mainstream society today, there is a stigma attached to having tattoos. One with tattoos, or “bodily signs,” is referred to as a “deviator”. In the book, “Stigma: Notes on the Management of a Spoiled Identity”, Erving Goffman defines tattoo individual as an “individual member who does not adhere to the norms” (Goffman 141) and they are perceived as “failing to use available opportunity for advancement in the various approved runways of society” (Goffman 144).
Tattoo recipients have been looked at by many people in society as socially deviant because they are going against the norms by cosmetically adding to their natural body. Tattooing, according to this book, is seen as negative behavior and is done by non-conformists. The main stigma attached to tattoos is that they are unprofessional and regrettable. Tattoos limit a person’s opportunities in life because of their negative connotations and associations. 0% of companies will not hire a person with tattoos because tattoos are believed to detract an individual from a professional appearance and considered an individual’s poor judgement as it is considered body vandalism . One of the biggest reasons why they are negatively stereotyped is that they distract from the wearer’s presence. When people see a person with a tattoo, they see the tattoo, not the person. Imagine President Obama with a full sleeve tattoo or a giant heart on his forearm with a banner that says “I love Michelle”. It’s a hysterical image, such would’ve affected the way people perceived him despite his intelligence.
Polling data suggests that most people perceive the tattooed to be of lower intelligence and lower character. Also because tattoo were associated with prisoners and gang members to specify their group the mainstream society still thinks a tattooed person belongs to one. A tattoo does not define who a person is, so they shouldn’t define a person’s work ethic. While tattoos are great piece of work on body in the mind of younger generation; the older generation feel that tattoo are not even an art form and they consider it useless and and think it is dumb for someone to get permanent ink for the rest of their lives.
The viewpoint of the majority of the older generation are that the tattoos are pointless because when they grew up it wasn’t the part of the society’s norm to get tattoos in remembrance of someone or as form of art. Back in the time the only to remember someone was to take flowers to the grave, pray or draw. People sometimes get meaningless tattoo because they think it is cool or copying it from television stars without prior knowledge of the significance of the tattoo. The norms of society are changing, and the profile that is matched to a person having tattoos is no longer the same.
Like all other individual freedoms and forms of expression, tattoos should not be censored or marginalized. The harmless, personal decision to get a tattoo should in no way be seen as a compromise of one’s professional skill or academic competency. Prejudices against tattoo needs to come to an end as it should be an individual decision how they want to present themselves. Most tattooed people have accepted the prejudice in professional settings and may get their ink on their back instead of their forearm just to prevent any future discrimination.
But it’s time for people to open their minds and accept the practice and the innocence of tattoo art. People with tattoos don’t necessarily deserve all the negative stigma, they should however be aware of the tattoos they choose to get and be wise with the images or words they wish to have permanently on their body. Tattoos are a work of art and individuals should be able to freely express their own style without the fear of being ridiculed.