It's Time We Stop Hating On Tattoos And Embrace Their Powerful History Instead
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It's Time We Stop Hating On Tattoos And Embrace Their Powerful History Instead

No matter your opinion on them, you can't deny how amazing they are.

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It's Time We Stop Hating On Tattoos And Embrace Their Powerful History Instead

If you live anywhere that isn't under a rock, you probably know someone with a tattoo. Maybe it's your sister. Maybe it's your dad. Maybe it's even yourself. Tattoos are becoming more and more popular in our modern culture. It was estimated in 2015 that one in three people have at least one tattoo, which has increased from just three years prior when only one in five people had them. And while tattoos are gaining momentum, you probably also know someone who hates them with a passion (*wink wink at every mom ever*). And maybe even you reading this right now hate tattoos.

So full warning, I'm not here to shove my opinions down anyone's throat, I'm not the Catholic Church. I'm just here to expand your horizons and give you a brief history as to the origin of tattoos and their cultural significance. And if at the end of all this you happen to gain an understanding or appreciation for tattoos and the people who get them, then great. And if not, that's okay, too.

First, let me start off by saying that recent studies have found that 78% of people with tattoos don't regret any of them. So if your opinion on tattoos stems from the belief that people will regret them later in life, that has been proven to not be the case for a large majority of people. So put that and any other negative thoughts out of your head and just learn for a second with me. People get tattoos for all different reasons. In ancient times tattoos were thought to be a sign of status. There was a point in time where sailors were the only people getting them. Some people associate tattoos with gangs and violence. The truth is that nowadays everyone is getting them so long as they have the means or money to do so.

Historians can't point to one single origin of tattoos, but they believe that the idea began in various tribes and communities around the world. Once discovered by settlers from foreign countries, they took these tattooing practices with them to other places. Pacific Islanders were one of the main populations that practiced the art of tattooing. They created their own ink from plants and flowers around them and used various types of woods to create their needles. If someone where to travel or meet another traveler, they could easily identify where they were from by their tattoo patterns. Hawaiians used similar patterns to mark achievements in battle. These traditions were handed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years, reaching men, women, and children.

Another major category of tattooing was Japanese traditional tattooing. It started out as a way of labeling criminals and punishing them for their crimes. Decorative tattooing came to light when these criminals wanted to cover their marks. That's where we get those famous tattooing of waves and landscapes. Tattoos in Japan really took off in 1872 when Utagawa Kuniyoshi made a series of woodblock prints based off a popular book at the time that featured these similar criminals covered in beautiful and intricate tattoos. Before this, tattoos were just coverups and small drawings. Kuniyoshi helped create what is now known as traditional Japanese art—where people create one image that might span their whole back or even more. Tattoos in Japan are now seen as a symbol of power.

Now fast forward to the beginning of America and the formation of pop culture. Sailors were the only people who had tattoos. They used it as symbols for the places they'd been to and the people they'd met along the way. A popular image for sailors was a swallow or a bird. A sailor earned a swallow for every 5,000 nautical miles sailed, which back then was very impressive. In 1891, when machine tattooing began, tattooing became available to more than just sailors. This was said to have created a whole new wave of tattoo innovation. People started getting full body tattoos, some even becoming circus attractions. Similar to Japan, American criminals started getting tattooed as a way to show how they were dangerous.

For a long time in America, tattoos lingered in the "underworld" of criminals and gangs. That is until the 1970's when fashion magazines started showing off glossy photos of tattooed people, and tattoo artists started letting people get their own custom pieces. Tattoos no longer defined you as one type of person, which helped get more and more people to want tattoos. Once women jumped on the bandwagon, tattoo businesses in America really began to skyrocket. MTV was the final burst that transformed the reputation of tattoos; they began to be recognized as an art form. Rock stars and celebrities could be seen with these detailed and intricate tattoos and their millions of fans instantly wanted them to be just like their role models and icons. Today, tattooing is a multi-billion dollar industry with millions of people getting more tattoos every year.

So regardless of your opinion on tattoos, whether you hate them or love them, we all need to understand the cultural significance they hold in our world. We've grown as a society and have such an eclectic styling of tattoos. With roughly one-third of the population tattooed, there's no way we can ignore them anymore. We have to stop discriminating in the workplace or limiting the opportunities of people simply because they have a tattoo. People shouldn't feel they need to cover their tattoos up or place them where they can't easily be seen. The more we as a society understand their vast history and significance through a multitude of cultures, the more we can accept them and the people who proudly and boldly wear them. I don't want anyone to feel ashamed for having a tattoo. I picture myself or even my children in those shoes and my heart breaks. We have enough people feeling the need to hide from the world, so why make that number bigger?

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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