I have seen friends met with negative comments because they have tattoos. Tattoos are for pirates, prisoners, sailers, etc., right? People only get ink for attention, or peer pressure. While some of these stereotypes can be true for a few people, it is not the complete reason everyone who has skin art has gotten one.
I don’t have any tattoos so why should I bring up such a topic? I wrote an article for The Celebrity Cafe
sometime ago about Megan Fox having her Marilyn Monroe tattoo removed from her arm. The comments that followed below the piece had nothing to do with the article but people’s opinions about tattooed people. This article is old and I worked on this blog post along time because I didn’t know if people would except a non-tattooed person writing about skin art.
In the comment section it was mentioned that tattoos are a self-esteem issue and someone’s need to be noticed. However, over time tattoo culture has had a much more in-depth history. Different cultures, communities, and times skin art has been used for healing purposes, rites of passage, marks of status and rank. Some marks are symbols of religious and spiritual devotion, and decorations for bravery. There are even tattoos used for sexual lures and marks of fertility, pledges of love, punishment, and protection. The leased liked marks may be that of outcasts, slaves and convicts. The ones with these marks may find their permanent label empowering. Numerous people use skin art to honor a dead relative or as a reminder of conquered tough times. This is where I think others should think twice before they push their judgement.
A few will use tattooing as an “in” thing but don’t demean the people that have tattoos that hold deep meanings of self-expression. Not everyone who has tattoos should be lumped in with Megan Fox. Not everyone that has tattoos have low self-esteem. Not everyone that has tattoos get them to be notice. Most people I know seem to have a tattoo or ten. And judgement goes both ways. Something I have seen some (not all!) tattooed people looking down on people without tattoos. I have been shunned or had a look of attitude or annoyance come my way when I reveal I don’t have any tattoos. I started keeping quite on flesh art because I was tired of defending why I like tattoos on others but why I don’t have/want any.
I had friends try to help me find something I can ink on to my body but after sometime they gave up and I realize that I don’t have to have or own something to say I like it.I guess I can say I look pretty plan to a tattooed person. The only marks on me are freckle, beauty marks, and the occasional bruise or childhood scar. I have been met with prejudice by friends when I find a man attractive who is tattooed and pierced. A “good” or “plain” girl like me shouldn’t step out of her stereotypical group. I have even shocked a friend or two and was told I couldn’t date someone that was excessively tattooed because I didn’t fit in with that attractive man’s image. I could have argued, “How do you know what any stranger finds attractive?” but we all have perspectives we place on people whether they are tattoo, pierced, or bear. In the end, I think (and I’m no one), who are we to make broad assessments and judge someone.
State Street’s tattoo shops mainly catered to sailors in the Great Lakes area. (Archival photo courtesy Nick Colella).