Snakes, grim reapers, skull-and-bones, and hearts; these are just a few examples of the many icons those with ink bounded to their skin forever. Tattoos, lasting ink images sealed forever on a person’s body, are used to symbolize the characteristics of the wearer or its allegiance to a group/society/idea. Those with skin united with the illustrations of instilled ink can indeed convey their thoughts, beliefs, and whatnot through tattoos they hold sacred. However, it is this expression that can attract both positive and negative responses. Wearing apparel or accessories that promote or express one’s beliefs or ideas is commonly acceptable, but to deviate as far as getting a tattoo may not always be the best option. Not only that, but once obtained, one can sometimes feel regretful of the choice they have made, but the scars of tattoos never fade. Tattoos should not be used to adorn one’s skin because they can provoke negative attention to oneself, promote future regret, and enhance the need to fit in a particular group.
Imagine wearing a T-shirt with a suggestive logo. Agreeing with the message on the shirt or not, other people will assume you believe whatever topic is on your T-shirt; and may not approve if the message is disagreeable. They may try to avoid you, or even send you a unpleasant vibe. Likewise, a tattoo often holds an idea, free to express itself to the public.
However, you can take of a T-shirt, but a tattoo is extremely difficult—if possible—to remove it. If you are left with a tattoo that is offensive to some people, although you do not think so, you could be isolating yourself from others who do not appreciate your tattoo, which may include your own family or intimate partner. For example, an interviewee recalls an experience with her boyfriend, “…he didn’t want is parents to know that I had a tattoo…He let me know he didn’t like it…he would prefer that I didn’t have it…” (Marks of Mischief 98). Having a tattoo may be awkward for an intimate partner or family member to accept, especially with the stereotype that tattoos belong to hardcore bikers. And although you may find your tattoo acceptable, knowing that your own family and friends do not can hurt.
Although the idea of tattoos tied to bikers is a stereotype by all means, that does not disprove it. Bikers often wear tattoos to show allegiance to a clan or a gang. An interviewee reminisces about why she got a tattoo: “I got a tattoo…so it gets me accepted more into that community [of bikers]…The typical biker would tell you that you almost have to have tattoos to be part of the group” (96). The interviewee does imply that tattoos are essential to being a part of a biker group. However, why should one sacrifice their skin to be a part of a group. Getting a tattoo for that purpose can seem like hazing. Having tattoos should not “mark” you as a part of some group. On the flipside, what if you get a tattoo that represents a group that you do not consent with. You will be posed as a member of that group by the outside, even if that was not your intention. Tattoos can lead to misassumptions to loyalty of groups or to “marking” to join a group.
The greatest thing of tattoos is regret. Unfavored design, location, quality, effect, and the initial step of getting a tattoo could be the roots of one’s regret. And although there are procedures to “undo” a tattoo, they can be risky and/or ineffective. Wearing a undesired tattoo can often cause grief in which it may cause the two reasons above. Regret is the most formidable thing standing between someone and their “ideal’ tattoo. The risk involved in getting a tattoo may not necessarily placing it on you, but the permanence that will stay with you forever.
Overall, tattoos are not the way to go to expressing uniqueness and individuality.
Yearning to be “different” from other people can be easily solved by wearing different attire other than tattoos. Why risk the permanence of a tattoo to express a belief when you can do the same with a T-shirt or other apparel. At least you can take it off, while tattoos may last a lifetime. The application of a tattoos comes with its pros and cons, but to hold on to possible regret and feelings of alienation by disapproving family/friends may outweigh the joy of showing off your “uniqueness.”