Being a very open-minded individual and appreciative of art, I’ve always been drawn to tattoos. Each tattoo is different, and has a distinctive and unique meaning. On the other hand, I also love the fact that they’re fun and don’t necessarily have to resonate deeply with anyone, not even the person wearing it. There are tons of people who get portraits to honor someone special in their life, and there are tons of people who have something along the lines of a T-Rex eating a cheeseburger.

The art of tattooing has been around for centuries. It’s widely known that ancient Egyptians had tattoos, but a 5,200-year-old frozen mummy dubbed “Iceman”, found in the area of the Italian-Austrian border in 1991, is our newest example of how long ago people decorated their bodies with ink. Which is why it baffles me that in our modern culture, people are still unable to accept tattooed individuals.

There have been many advancements in our country. The United States is not controlled by Britain anymore, African Americans are no longer slaves, women have the right to vote, etcetera, etcetera. Why can’t we add “people can be tattooed and get taken seriously” to that list of accomplishments? Seriously, I don’t mean to offend anyone when I give out these examples, but I strongly feel that the importance of self-expression, or more like the lack of acceptance for self-expression is a pressing matter. We’re mistaking tattoos for regretful blunders.

It’s been proven that when you have a visible tattoo, you are less likely to get hired (except at a tattoo parlor. Never has it been documented or heard that tattoos are frowned upon when working at tattoo parlors). The stigma that surrounds people who have tattoos is ridiculous. Even when you are as equally qualified as the other person looking to get hired, or are more qualified, you’ll get shown the door before becoming part of their team, just because of your tattoo.

Granted, if someone has a big Swastika tattooed on their hand, I’d be more than a little reluctant to hire them if I was in the company’s shoes. But when we’re talking about tattoos displaying almost anything else (non-offensive), employers need to take a step back and re-evaluate themselves. Are they truly willing to make a mistake themselves, and lose a great individual working for them, just for having permanent art on their skin?

Tattooing is an art form. From the intricate line-work and shading of a tattoo, to the sole ability of creating a unique stencil for a client, tattoo artists, just as much as their works of art, are not appreciated. The time spent consulting, drawing, re-drawing, pressing a pedal, lightly puncturing someone’s skin with a very powerful tool, helping them cope with the pain; all those hours spent on a single tattoo, are not appreciated. When someone is turned away from a job, when they are judged by their religion, when they’re labeled as ‘ex-cons’, ‘cholos’, or ‘gangsters’ for having art on their skin, this is when we know our “modern society” is doing something wrong, and may not be so “socially modern” after all.

Many say “your body is a temple, your body is God’s house, your body is sacred, don’t make a mistake and ruin it by getting a tattoo”. Well I say, when have you walked into a church without stained-glass windows? Without some type of decoration to bring the place alive? Why does life have to be black and white instead of rose-colored? By continuing to be negative towards tattoos, we are discouraging self-expression. That is the true mistake.

Being able to express one's self in positive ways that don’t harm anyone, is important for the growth of individuals. Yes, tattoos hurt, but just like our high school years (or at least mine), the pain is only temporary and you come out with something beautiful to take from life. Tattoos do not define the abilities or character of a person, and neither should we.

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