Eng. 101 Term 1
Skin piercing needles, ink of every color, and a talented artist are all one needs to permanently decorate the human skin into something unique and meaningful. Tattooing is an ancient art that has recently become a widely accepted practice. It is a form of self-expression and a lot can be learned of a person by their tattoos. There are specific groups in specific times that were more likely than others to get tattoos. Tattoo’s have a long history of uses and meanings and has evolved into a phenomenon that wide varieties of people endure, and are acknowledged to be a part of everyday life. With many different reasons for getting tattoos, there will always be a special quality about each and every one. Some tattoos have a symbolic or personal meaning, while others could just be favorite designs. Although they are more accepted today than ever, there are still negative attitudes toward the art. Tattooing is a legitimate and beautiful form of self-expression that should be recognized as an art form and accepted worldwide.
Dyed hair, tight jeans, boots, armbands, and music are all a small fraction of the infinite ways people express themselves. Clothing alone sends a gigantic cultural message to the people around you. The brand of clothes can send different messages just as much as the color or style. Tattooing sends much of the same message as any other form of self-expression. A man wearing a polo shirt with khaki pants and dress shoes can come off totally different if he has elaborate tattoos all over his arms, even though he would be the same person with out any of his apparel or body art. A bride in a flowing white wedding dress tends to be beautiful and radiant, but may strike people different if there are markings on her back and arms. I believe that tattoos amplify personal traits and overall show attitude and tell a lot about that person. People have to right to view beauty in any shape and form that they wish and just like discrimination of race, discrimination because of tattoo marking should not be tolerated. With all the hate in the world it is silly to have another reason to unfairly judge a person just by their looks. Discrimination is inevitable, but there is no reason for it to exist for body marking. The ones opposed to tattooing have the right to own an opinion as well, but what is so different about an image on a body and an image on a t-shirt? The answer is obvious, of course. Tattoos are permanent and a t-shirt can be taken off.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the definition of a tattoo is the practice of making a design on the skin by pricking and staining. The “pricking” and “staining” that the definition refers to is permanent, which clashes with moral issues for some people. In some cultures tattooing is seen as defiling of the body but in others is a tradition that dates back to ancient times. Most widely popular in the areas of Polynesia, tattoos were a part of cultures all around the world. In New Zealand, indigenous tribes sported tattoos which were called “moko” that showed tribal affiliation, among others (LaFee). A majority of ancient tattoos claimed status and rites of passage but there has never been a universal reason for tattooing. Modernly a similar concept is still held when choosing to get a tattoo (or what tattoo to get) but there is not as much community-oriented influence. Culturally there is a huge influence mostly brought about by the media. Rock stars and Athletes in the media, for example, make tattoos more acceptable and liked. The nature of their business allows tattoos to play a role in their persona and sometime demands it. But if it is acceptable for celebrities to have body art then why is there discrimination against other individuals? The working world is the number one place where having tattoos can actually inhibit the types of jobs that can be held, and just as importantly can cloud the vision of an employer choosing its staff.
The way the manager or boss of a company views tattoos can highly vary between people and though now it is not as big of a deal as in the past, it can still be unwanted especially if the job description contains customer service (Gerencher). It takes common sense to know that a person with visible tattoos having the same exact qualifications if not more than a person without tattoos will be less likely to be hired at most job opportunities. At the moment at least, the job market forces employers to sometimes look past the unwanted physical attributes such as tattoos. If the market should change however, then it could easily give the hiring companies discriminating powers (Gerencher). There are some circumstances in which a tattoo can be socially unacceptable but for the most part they are artistic views of the person that dawns them.
Having a tattoo can bring attention, wanted or not, and it cannot always be positive. The main reason people get tattooed is to express themselves and not to offend. Tattooing is a legitimate form of self expression just as much as any accessory or action. The human body is the worlds only live canvass and the art that is put on it by tattooing is just as beautiful as any painting. The first tattoo I received is an Aztec warrior band. I drew it with influence from Aztec and Mexican art. The center is a circle with a temple on the upper half and the sun on the lower half. The sun rays extend throughout the circle and in the middle of the sun itself holds my girlfriend’s initials. I put her initials in the center of the sun because she is the light in my life and I love her and hold her higher than anyone else. The temple was used as a religious site as well as an accomplishment and monument in Aztec culture. It symbolizes a higher power and faith. The sun was the staple of the Aztec culture, as well as in many other ancient cultures. The main Aztec god Huitzilopochtli was the god of the sun and war and was higher than any other god in the Aztec culture (Brotherston). Connected to the circle on both sides are traditional Mexican/Aztec block style patterns of a swirl. They connect to a different animal head on each side. On the front is the head of a jaguar, drawn with Aztec influence in the structure and lines used. The jaguar was seen as a symbol of agility and intelligence. Connected to the other side is the head of a bear, drawn in the same fashion, which symbolizes strength and courage. Altogether the tattoo is a symbol of me, and the qualities I love and believe I possess. I think it is the greatest accessory that I will ever wear, and I will wear it forever. More recently, I have had more ink added to my arm.
My second tattoo depicts the moon and the sun inside two glaring eyes and is located right above my first piece of art. The images themselves are the pupils in each eye with stars surrounding the moon in one and rays extruding from the sun in the other. I drew and chose this design because I believe in the balance of life, or more commonly shown as a “ying yang”. The sun and the moon both give life and are both crucial to existence on earth. The sun represents the good and lighter part of life or a person while the moon shows the darker, mysterious evil in us all whether it may be a little or a lot. I believe that everyone posses’ a balance in their life of good and evil and to me it is important to personally understand both parts in one’s life. I chose to put the images inside a pair of eyes because to me it is an original and unique way to represent what I wanted to show, and at the same time can been seen as an intimidating factor universally. In nature for instance, the peacock butterfly has natural eye spots on the back of their wings that scare away predators (Vallian). Overall, one could look at my tattoos and see artistic designs and nothing more. I would not expect anyone to interpret my tattoos the same way I see them but that is what makes them special to me, and I would graciously share the meaning I had in mind when drawing them to anyone. I plan on getting more as my life goes on, depending on when I am ready and have more to add to my story. I do not think that there is anything that a person can wear that can express their personality or life story any better than a tattoo. Although I feel so strongly about tattoos and I think that they are beautiful and meaningful, there are always examples to show that even something that is meant to be great can be bad under certain circumstances.
When chosen wrongly, a tattoo could be someone’s worst nightmare. Usually cliché tattoos are the most commonly regretted ones. Tattooing of someone’s name for example usually has bad news written all over it. A tattooist by the name of Rebecca Cherry (Ontario, Canada) calls this type of tattoo the three month curse (Lorrayne). She claims that she has received patients who have ended their relationship with the person whose name was tattooed and have come back to find ways to erase, hide, or alter the image a mere three months after the tattoo was administered (Lorrayne). There are certain exceptions to this rule where the person going under the needle does in fact love and stay with the person whose name they tattoo on their body but for most it is a risk. Rarely regretted name tattoos are ones of family members such as children or parents, and show deep love for them. In my opinion, someone could never go wrong with a tattoo of a heart with the name “mom” inside. Having a tattoo for the wrong reasons can also take away from the art of getting one and be a regretful thing. Some people find tattooing appealing, but are into it solely for looks. This can lead to stupid tattoos or designs that have no more meaning other than the recipient thought it looked cool. For people trying to look “tough”, a popular tattoo is one of barbed wire around the arm. To me this is the most cliché tattoo of them all and I can not find any deeper meaning than is on the surface. Another style of tattoo that has become popular is the tribal design, which can be drawn and placed in many different ways. This is also a tattoo that is received more for looks than for anything else. However, to say that every person with these tattoos has no reason or meaning to get them would be contradictory. There can always be someone, who rightfully or not, can claim to have reasoning to get these images and therefore can be seen as justified. For the most part it is easy to tell when tattoos are valued and have deep meaning behind them. The tattoos that can arguably be the main reason for strong tattoo discrimination are the ones depicting offensive material. Whatever it may be, different tattoos can offend different people. Usually the tattoos chosen are meaningful to them and than naturally do not contain material that if seen by a person of any age or gender would not be offensive. However, there are people in the world with racist, sexist, and have other types of negative views and some choose to express them in the form of tattoos. Sadly as it seems these offensive images fallow every aspect of the tattoo that others think about when getting one, but are not politically correct and will offend certain crowds. When looking at the number of people in the world with tattoos, the number of one’s with offensive content is presumably low but they still can affect the image of tattoos and the art of tattooing as a whole.
For every reason in the world to receive tattoo art, there will always be a reason to not receive it. People have different views about everything. Some views are the same and that leads to grouping. People with similar views will flock together and support each other, and there are always the ones with opposing viewpoints that try to bring them down. Tattoos bring happiness to some and melancholy to others. No matter what the subject of debate is, there will always be two sides to an argument. For the most part, this is a good thing. Tattoos are not for everyone, and rightfully so. If every human being in the world had a tattoo, the beautiful and unique qualities of the art would not be as special and everyone would look the same. Tattoos are meant to stand out and describe their owners, not to become something everyone has. Most importantly, the world would be an extremely scary place if everyone (especially older men and women, and also children) had elaborate tattoos all over their bodies. This point brings me to the meaning of the eyes tattooed on my upper left arm: for every ying, there is a yang that balances it out, and in my mind this concept is crucial to the existence of this world and for everything to be as it should.