The Truth About Tattoos
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Politics and Activism

The Truth About Tattoos

Has the tattoo taboo faded?

The Truth About Tattoos

I never thought I would be the type of person to consider getting a tattoo. I scoffed at the idea of it for a long time, judged those I knew who made the choice to permanently ink their skin, and swore I would never make the same choice.

I now know that the assumption that I would never be the "type" is a ridiculous thing to assume; every type of person, of many ages and backgrounds, is making the decision to get a tattoo. 45 million Americans have at least one tattoo, and the act itself is becoming more and more common cross-generationally.

With this information, I allowed myself to admit to the urge I have had for the past few months - I REALLY want a tattoo. I have an image that is incredibly meaningful to me, however, this question remains; is there still a stigma attached with getting inked? Will it hinder my ability to find a job or pursue relationships?

I asked my friends this question- "Does your opinion of a person change if you learn they have a tattoo?"

I got quite a variety of answers from the people who were closest to my age. Some said that in no way it would change their opinion of a person as it was "a from of art," some said it would change depending on what the tattoo was, yet no one said that it would alter their opinion drastically. The resounding answer was that it depended largely on the type of tattoo a person got; someone would be far more sympathetic to a religious or highly symbolic tattoo rather than a random piece of art or something truly offensive. Most, about three out of four of my friends, believe that they couldn't see how anyone could say tattoos wouldn't affect their opinion of someone, since what people chose to mark on their body permanently says a lot about their character and values.

I then asked the members of my family the same question, all of whom are a bit older, and as such, I expected to have a different opinion.

Surprisingly, they all said that they were largely desensitized to it. Apparently, tattoos are incredibly prevalent, and so many unexpected people have been inked, they have come to accept that any type of person can and will have a tattoo. They only questioned their children getting tattoos and tattoos that were larger/ more offensive. My uncle described a tattoo his friend got that was a large scale portrait of himself holding a beer and flipping everyone off. That may not be the best idea.

Another tattoo that probably wasn't smart.

However, my most wise friend and grandfather, the most intelligent human I know, had the same thing to say: it is often the case that the opinion has a lot more to do with the beholder than the person it is enforced upon. The answer to these questions, of tattoos, hair dying, or piercings, is based upon a predisposed idea of what each individual views as acceptable. Your opinion will also largely be defined by your previous relationship with the tattooed person in question.

Additionally, tattoos are accepted and praised differently across cultures and belief systems. Some cultures view them as a purely an art form or a symbol of religious expression.

Strangely, though, my friends who have tattoos believe strongly that they were treated differently as a result of their tattoos. One even said that it was socially engrained to discriminate against people with tattoos, especially by the older generations and more conservative people. It is in a interesting paradox, that people believe they aren't judging, and the subjects in question are feeling actively judged. We often make it about ourselves, on either side of the issue.

We are always told to not judge a book by its cover. To an extent, though, we have to judge a book by its cover or we will be constantly set up for disappointment. For example, you walk into store looking for a book on cooking, you look for books about cooking expecting them to contain recipes, otherwise, they are dishonest. If you walk around the store buying random books with flowers on the cover with the expectation the insides will reveal instructions on how to bake a cake, you will be consistently disappointed. Though the outward appearance of a person is not the single, or even largest, determinant of character, how an individual presents themselves will always be a reflection of what they deem important.

At the end of it all, it is the individual making the decision to change their body, and the choice should be entirely individualized. I have decided to get a tattoo and, luckily, those closest to me will not change their opinions of my character.

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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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