Tattoos as a New Form of Communication

A guest blog entry by Kev H. (student, world citizen)

Tattooing is a form of visual art that places stories as pictures on a person’s body.   Some say that tattoos desecrate the temple that is the body while others say it’s a painting that tells a story.

In the United States of America, 15% of people have at least one tattoo (see http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/31975/tattoo_statistics.html?cat=7).

That says that at least one to two people out of every ten mostly likely have tattoos.

Personally, my tattoos represent specific people or specific beliefs that are my own.  When getting them, I chose them on the basis that their representation is clear and meaningful to me.

And, all of them mean a lot to me.

Each one represents a different story that brings happiness to me.

Looking at tattoos, they are a form of communication.  Although it is not a form of communication like speeches, reports, books, or music, it is much like paintings.  Much like paintings, when I get asked about my tattoos, I tell them the story about each one: about how I got it, what made me decide on the specific tattoo, and their true meaning.

True, tattooing is a drastic form of self-expression that requires the message to be with you for the rest of your life.

With our diverse country the way it is, tattoos are another form of communication that we use for self-expression and even as commercials.  In some major volleyball games, players have temporary tattoos on their body advertising such companies as VISA and McDonald’s. Other sports sometimes incorporate the use of temporary tattoos to advertise as well.  But, if the athlete’s skin is completely covered then they are unable to advertise effectively, if at all.

With the ever changing generations of our time, people’s negative opinions of tattoos will hopefully dwindle and they will begin to accept our generation, the next generation to change the world.

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74 thoughts on “Tattoos as a New Form of Communication

  1. I think that it is too early to tell what place tattoos have in our generation. As mentioned, only about 15% of people in America even have tattoos and many others look down on them. I am not saying that they will disappear all together, I am mainly pointing out the fact that, as history has shown, some things become accepted with time, and others are outcast. As for my opinion, I do not have any tattoos, but I support anyone’s choice and right to get one and I too plan to get one someday when I have kids.

  2. It’s true that tattoos are a way of expression. I myself have one. I believe the reason people make tattoos such a taboo (notes how tattoo and taboo sound alike might have something to do with it being a taboo) is because people associate tattoos with the people who get them, examples: gang bangers and bikers. Just because people in these small groups use them for identification, people jump to the conclusion that if you have a tattoo you must be in gang or something. Another reason tattoos are getting a bad rap is because people get tattoos for the wrong reasons. A good example is the tramp stamp (a tramp stamp is a tattoo on your lower back that really has no meaning). Why, why, why would you get a tramp stamp? Every time I see someone with a tramp stamp I just imagine that person thirty years from now with it. Nauseating. Tattoos are forever (yes, I know you can get them removed). I think the fact that they are fairly permanent may have something to do with it being a taboo thing. Tattoos I think are great as long as you don’t get crazy. For example, see http://www.instablogs.com/media/2007/04/pac-man-tattoo_49.jpg. Really, why would you get that? I don’t think any one loves pack man that much. Can you imagine what that will look like ten to thirty years from now. I shutter at the thought.

  3. I think that tattoos are a wonderful form of art. I personally do not have any and do not intend on getting any but for those who do I think it is a wonderful way to express themselves. I’ll admit that when people get tattoos with absolutely no meaning I think it’s kind of dumb and they’ll end up regretting it later, but that’s their body, not mine. It seems like older generations (our parents, grandparents) have such a problem with their children getting tattoos and I have never understood it. I’ve seen parents in tears over their 22 year old getting a tattoo and I’ve never been able to understand why. I think everyone has a right to do whatever they want to their own body, so if that means getting tattoos from head to toe…do your thing. I do not think that people should look down on those who have tattoos to the point where they have to wear bracelets to work everyday to cover a tattoo on their wrist. Having tattoos does not mean you’re a social deviant and people with them should not be treated that way-especially since 15% of the population has one.

  4. All of you have good points, and a reflection of that is that I think that tattoos are of course communication. Mitch, I will have to politely disagree with you on one note though. Tattoos are becoming more accepted and I think that our generation is embracing the movement by an alarming increase of interest. Look at the TV shows that have become popular within the last years, LA Ink, Miami Ink, Inked [TLC/A&E]. They are showing the true acceptance of this art form. One of the largest influences that this generation has openly and internationally embraced, is Don Ed Hardy. We see it everywhere; clothing, shoes, bags, tattoos. Don Ed Hardy is a tattoo artist and his tattoos are featured around the world. I think this acceptance is definitely present in our generation and that the stereotypes dwindled down into pure appreciation for the art.

    1. I do agree with all of your points. But I still feel that it is too early to tell what place tattoos have in our society. I mean, it is as you said… the stereotypes have lessened since tattoos first became more popular, but I think as more and more people get used to the idea of tattoos, less people will want them. Right now, they are still in the cool or ‘fad’ stage and many people get them because they are cool (I am in no way denying that people do get them because they mean something). But when we think back, our society follows trends… we have seen it with clothes, cars, technology, buildings and more. Right now tattoos are a popular trend, but over the years who knows what will happen… Maybe they wont be outcast or banned, but we may move on to something else or come up with new research that causes many people not to want tattoos… And I think that 15% of the population is not a significant enough number to place a wager on either way… not yet.

  5. I believe this article touches on a good point that a tattoo is a form of communication, although that is not true in all cases. Some people get tattoos just to get one with no meaning, while others get a tattoo to represent something special to themselves and to show it off to other people. Tattooing is an art form that is most of the time permanent, which means that it should have some kind of meaning. Tattooing has become more acceptable in this generation then it was 50 years ago. Getting a tattoo expresses meaning and symbolizes a word or picture.

  6. I will have to politely disagree with youforgotyourpass on people stereotypeing people that have tattoos. I know many many people that have tattoos and they aren’t in a gang or a biker. Tatoos are becoming more and more popular over time with just the average person. I have a tattoo and yes my dad does joke about me being a biker chick when he knows I’m totally not. I also have my tounge and naval pierecd but that does not mean I am a slut. People should not judge people for what they do to there body, whether it be tattoos or piercings. They are just expressing themselves and that might be the only way they know how to do it. I can’t write or draw for crap and people don’t always like to listen to what I have to say, so why not make a visual statement. I know I will not regret what I have done to my body when I get older. One of my mottos is “Never regret what has happened in the past because you can always change your future.”

    1. Your lucky to be surrounded by people that are accepting

      People that look forward and never look back seem to always land on their back is what my grandfather said (but in Spanish). What I think he means is that we have to learn from our mistakes (not saying that being tattooed or pierced is a mistake).

      I personally think putting a label on someone or something limits what it can be.

      Do your thing girl !!!

  7. I do think tattoos are becoming more popular. It seems all my friends have tattoos but none of my uncles do. The question I have is will they ever be more accepted? When I applied for my job they asked me if I had any tattoos, because none of mine are visible I told them no. But if they found out I did have tattoos or if I get one that is visible, would they have the right to fire me? I know in some jobs they can and it all really depends on the owner.

  8. Tattoos could be considered a form of art, but there is so many different ways that people look at them depending on what kind of tattoo you get. It’s not only our generation that has tattoos, people of all ages have them. Some people get tattoos because they are meaningful, others get them just for fun or because they look cool. I don’t have any tattoos, but I respect people that do because it’s their body and their decision.

    1. Agreed. Many people carry on tattooing as a form of art in which each individual tattoo has its own meaning the way tattooing was intented to be, however today I believe that tattoos as a whole are beginning to carry messages, regardless of what the actual tattoo is. What I mean is that some people, not all people, who get tattoos get them for the stigma associated with having “a tattoo” or any tattoo. This stigmas of rebellion, or being an individual, or not abiding by the rules. People getting tattoos that have no meaning for purely cosmetic reasons such as a tribal armband in which they know no meaning for it are a perfect example of this. The tattoo may look cool, and it is visible to the rest of the public that sees this individual. The people viewing this person with this tattoo see this person as someone who is somewhat rebellious, and a risk taker, and dangerous. This is what I am saying, that much of modern tattooing has lost its true meaning, although I still believe that many people out there today still tattoo for the artistic and story telling values.

  9. I personally do not have any tattoos and I do not hold anything against how anyone chooses to spend their money, express themselves, or decorate their bodies. However, I want to elaborate a bit more on the comments left by saunders. The company I work for will not hire you if you have a visible tattoo. If one is seen, you can be fired. This is part of your agreement when you are hired.

    Do not get a tattoo on the spur of the moment or while you are drunk. Think very carefully about the tattoo you want and where you want to display it. There’s always going to be a social stigma attached to tattoos. If 15% of the population has them, that means 85% do not. You have the right to get a tattoo and the employer has the right to hire whoever they choose. Think about it. You probably don’t care if your bartender or barrista is covered with picerings and tattoos, but honestly, how would you feel if your doctor had a skull tattooed on his neck, or F*&$ Y#@ tattooed on her knuckles?

    1. Tattoos create terms in which a person can be judged at first glance. If tattoos are supposed to reflect personality and individuality of an person, I would say that what a person has tattooed on their body could very much be grounds to accurately guess what type of person they are. This may not be the case for every person with a tattoo, however, when speaking about money and employers, they will play the odds and I do not believe that they are wrong in hiring someone or not hiring someone based on their visible tattoos. When someone is not hired based on a tattoo, I believe it is not the tattoo that is the reason for them being fired or not hired, however the tattoo just gives clue to the character of the person, and that is what gets them fired or not hired.

  10. I agree with Daisy about tattoos becoming more and more accepted, especially with shows like LA ink, and almost in every music video or movie there is some character who is trying to express themself with using their own tattoo as an art form. I believe that tattoos have been accepted for a long period of time now. I mean just like with Ed Hardy, that has easily become a fashion must for a lot of people and the art form is what makes it so appealing. Also, people identify with people by their tattoos, such as Dennis Rodman, Tupac, Jesse James, and Mike Tyson. Also, many people do associate having a tattoo with negative activity, like gang life, and the bikers and jail birds and things of that sort.

  11. I agree with Daisy that the tattoo generation is not decreasing. There is a lot more people getting tattoos these days and eventually one day they will be accepted altogether. I do not have any as of right now. I kind of want to get one but not for the look of it or because my friends might have it. But I am waiting for a moment when something special will happen when I will get a tattoo for that meaning and memory. A lot of people get tattoos for the wrong reason these days, as mentioned before, and maybe that is why people look down on it. A lot of people get it for no reason at all, just because they want to be “cool”, others get it when they get drunk and want it removed, others get their significant others name tattooed and when it’s over, well it’s permanent. There are few people that do it because it means something to them and they work hard to be accepted by the society. I think tattoos are art and the idea is to show the world that this means a lot to someone, so people should not get something just because.

  12. I agree with this post that tattoos are a way for a person to show their personalities, to tell a story, show respect to a spouse, or loved one who has passed. I personally have a couple tattoos and they both have a lot of meaning to them and a story behind each one and I plan on getting more because I think that tattoos are a beautiful way to tell a story on your body. I also agree with Daisy that tattoos are becoming more popular and accepted now-a-days. I believe that since tattoos are becoming more and more popular this could become a negative thing in society because now younger kids want to get tattoos. What they don’t realize is the consequences that getting a tattoo too young could have on them with regret later on in life. What do you guys think about people getting tattoos at too young of an age?

    1. How young is too young to get a tattoo? Are you saying that like 14 year olds are wanting to get tattoos? If they are that age, then yes, I do agree with you that they do not realize the consequences and affects it will have on them in the future. I got mine when I turned 18. It is meaningful to me and I don’t regret it. I guess I would have to say the person should wait til they are in the right mind set to make that decision. Meaning that they should wait until they are a little older to make the real decision of getting a tattoo.

  13. I would have to agree with many of the posts. I believe that tattoos are becoming more and more accepted due to the fact that jobs are becoming more and more lenient. I also agree that tattoos are a way of communication, they are a form of self expression as well. I myself have five tattoos. I think that people in today’s society are getting tattoos just to get them, without truly having any meaning behind them. I am not trying to be a hypocrite, so I think it is vital that I add the fact that I do have one tattoo that has a humerous story to it, but does NOT have a true meaning to me. As Kev had mentioned, some religions believe that the body is a temple, and if the body is in any way altered, it is an issue. As for myself, I am of the jewish religion and if your body is modified, one cannot be buried in the jewish cemetary, having such a supporting family this is not an issue in my household.
    **** to Samantha-
    I think that some kids are getting tattoos way to young but there are so many different ways to get tatoos with out permission by your parents (for those people who are under the age of 18), and by getting tattoos illegally this easily can bring up the issue of disease and infection.

    1. Well, you said that jobs are becoming more and more lenient… But from what I have heard, not many jobs have changed their policy that, if you have a tattoo, it must be covered at all times while your at work. I mean, I think as a nation we are becoming more and more accepting of tattoos with each day that passes. But I was just wondering if you could elaborate on how jobs are becoming more lenient and accepting (not that I am disagreeing with you, I just don’t know where the job market stands as far as tattoos are concerned right now).

      1. Mitch, I understand what you are saying completely as far as tattoos in the work place. I should have specified on what Iwas trying to say. By saying jobs are becoming more lenient, I was referring to certain jobs (I should have been more specific, sorry). As far as certain teaching jobs, my sister teaches at SIU and has tattoos and also has her ears gauged and it does not present a problem. From personal experience of working at numerous places, I have only been asked to cover my tattoos once, and it was more of a professional job, so I stand corrected.. Touche’

      2. I see, I was just curious because my mom has about 5 tattoos and two are visible. Each one stands for something though. She has one on her wrist that says ‘mom’ with a rose and the ribbon for cancer (my grandmother died of cancer) and many of the jobs she applied for late last year said that, if she were hired, she would have to cover the tattoo. But the job she got was for a Animal hospital and I think they allow her to have the one tattoo uncovered.

      3. Great point Mitch! Tattoos are being more and more accepted this generation, but in public settings. A place where this art form still struggles to earn their respect and acceptance is the professional setting [career jobs/occupations]. I think as each generation continues to accept behaviors out of the norm, tattoos will slowly cease to provide the negative ‘stereotypes’ that still remain in present day.

  14. I agree with many of the comments, I find tatoos an interesting way to express yourself. I would love to get a tatoo someday, but I come from a very closed minded family, in which they stereotype tattoos as being part of a gang. No mean to offense anyone. I think at least in America tattoos are becoming more and more popular and looked in a different way as Daysi gave an example : LA ink. I think it all depends on culture and our heritage and our beliefs. I can justify myself with a short story. One of my friends, that comes from a very devoted religious family decided to get a temporary tatoo that would probably last three to four weeks. When his mother find out about it and looked a it she grabbed soap and started scratching him until the tatoo faded.So for her the tatoo represented a disrespect to his body!

  15. I believe some tattoos are a form of communication, while others may not be. There are a lot of people that get tattoos to represent something, such as RIP tattoos, tatooing the name of a loved one, or of there child. I once met someone that had a tattoo of there child’s face on their arms. Some people tattoo their zodiac sign on themselves, and that just represents something about them. Although, sometimes people get tattoos when they are drunk and the tattoo represents nothing to them. But all tattoos are a form of some kind of communication. I also believe tattoos are no longer looked at negatively, at least not by our generation. The older generations may look at tattoos negatively, but they are becoming more accepting by the younger generations.

  16. I agree with a lot of the comments, tattooing can be a very remarkable form of art. Tattoos are something that is not only used as creative art, but also a form of self-expression. Just as paintings in a gallery tell a story and have significance to them, I believe that having something personable like a tattoo on your body also does the same. I think tattooing is becoming acceptable in society, but I still think there are some people who see it as a problem and look at it negatively. In my opinion, this would be people that are from earlier generations where this form of art wasn’t as popular in society. With the progress towards making tattoos more acceptable in the work world, I think it will make others see it in a more positive way also.

  17. There are a lot of great points touched in many of the comments here. I partially agree with the blog that tattoos are a way of communication. Although, it depends on the person’s tattoo and I do believe that most tattoos do have a story behind them, but that’s not in all cases. My aunt got a peace sign tattoo on her ankle when she was a teenager and she told me that at that time she got it she just wanted to get one really bad. I asked her what the peace sign meant and she told me she just randomly picked it at the tattoo shop. Is there really a meaningful story behind her tattoo? I think not. Plus, she hates the thing and regrets it. I believe tattoos are truly art and a way to communicate only when there is a real significant story behind it.

  18. I agree with a lot of the comments. Tattoos are more accepted in our generations today. I don’t have one by choice. My son has three tattoos and they all have meaning to them. One of them says “No Struggle No Progress.” It has a personal meaning to him. It has to do with school. I agree that tattoos are meaniful and they do have a story behind them. I don’t agree with getting a spouses name or a girlfriend or boyfriend’s name because whose to say that relationship is going to last forever. I heard they are very painful to remove. I think that tattoos are a very beautiful form of art. I also disagree with Mitch a lot of companies don’t discriminate against tattoos.

    1. Deb, you make great points, however Mitch is right on this one, a lot of companies do discriminate against tattoos. Having a tattoo is like having a birthmark on your face. It’s usually for everybody to see and people will criticize you. I personally don’t have any tattoos because I feel there are other ways of expressing yourself and your goals without marking your skin. I also think that tattoos are accepted by people more if your white. I think that an African American man who goes out and gets all these tattoss gets thrown under the bus, and he all of a sudden becomes a “thug” in American’s eyes. When someone asks you what the look of a criminal may be, I am almost positive that they will describe a tattooed black man with piercings and a du-rag.

    2. Actually a lot of companies discriminate against tattoos. If you are working amongst kids people will not want you to have tattoos because you will look like a thug in some cases. Also, I work at a restaurant and even there if you have a visible tattoo they will tell you figure out a way to cover it up or they will send you home and make you cover it up somehow. Some jobs just assume the customers will judge the employee if they have a tattoo so they prefer to hire people without tattoos.

  19. I agree, some people do get tattoos that do not mean anything. I am a perfect example. When I turned 18 I went and got a tattoo just for the heck of it. I knew I was old enough that I did not need my parents permission and that’s all that mattered. For me, it was almost a phase of rebellion to show my parents, hey look what I did. I love my tattoo. I do not believe that I did the wrong thing or that it has no meaning. But I do believe that it is a way of communication whenever people see someone’s tattoo you either ask them or yourself, I wonder why they got that there or why they got a specific thing. Well that specific tattoo can start a conversation and possibly lead to other things in life, friendships down the road. It is just crazy how little things like a tattoo can turn into bigger and better things even if there is no meaning to the tattoo.

  20. Charli, I totally agree with you that teens are getting them too young and when they do they can get infected, I just did a reasearch paper on tattoos and found out a lot. For example usually the only places that will give a minor a tattoo are unclean parlors that really just want a person’s money because if a tattoo parlor gives a minor a tattoo the artist is at risk of loosing his or her license and could be prosecuted for breaking the law. If a person goes to an unclean parlor it is very likely that they will get some kind of infection. Some of the things you can get are Hepatitus B, C, HIV/AIDS, Herpes, Simplex, virus, staph, fungal infections, and a whole lot more(http://mayoclinic.com/health/tattoos-and-piercings/MC00020). Teens just don’t realize this when they try and go against the law and find a place that will give them a tattoo anyway. Most teens are just so impatient and don’t think!

  21. I think Mitch has a great point when he is saying tattoos are being more and more accepted as time goes by. For instance a few years ago not all people would want to hire a person who has a tattoo on his forearms or neck because they think it’s not proffesional. Now though, I see many people with tattoos, lawyers, and business men with tattoos. I, however, do not have any. I think right now I have not gone through too many obstacles in my life where I feel I should show them as art. Soon though, I will love to get some tattoos. My dad ended up getting two tattoos at the age of 14. At that time he had to prove a point and show people around him something.

  22. Tattoos are very effective in communicating who you are as a person. More than ever, people are getting tattoos and more people are accepting them. Tattoos can show others your personality. I still dont have a tattoo, but when I do decide I want one, it will have to do with my beliefs and my values. Sometimes people get tattoos just to have the art on their body. They might think they would actually be more accepted if they do it now, unlike the tattoos that were around fifty years ago in America. Getting a tattoo is like a statement to others that your trying to prove.

  23. I am intrigued by the focus on this discussion. Additonally, I am not sure the percentage of people with tattoos is as low as 15%, even though the guest author does provide a source. Based on my experience teaching, and in life, I see plenty of people with tattoos, and it seems to me there are more people with tattoos than 15% of the population.

    Also, as to the employment issue, I believe it may go deeper than this. For instance, I saw once on a form for insurance that if you have a tattoo then you were ineligible for insurance. There has been this belief that that those with tattoos are more likely to have health issue. I think this is bunk, though it may have its roots in reality. There was a time in America history where the people that got a tattoo generally led a more risky life, so past statistics do support this idea. However, in today’s world, just as many people who lead a non-risky life seem to be choosing to “mark” their bodies.

    A final point that no one seems to have brought up is the fact that body art, tattooing, goes back to the earliest stages of human history. It isn’t something that is new to this time period at all. Historically, the body markings were often ritualistic. Sometimes they were permanent, others temporary. Even in today’s world, cultures such as India utilyze body art to express ritualistic meaning (the henna tattoo is an essential and almost required part of an Indian woman’s wedding celebration).

    So why then should this really be an issue, when it has been a practice since long before any of us have been alive?

  24. I agree with Andrew B. Some people today just get tattoos to look more rebellious and feel like an individual. I am not saying it is a bad thing to get a tattoo but if your doing it for no real reason or just to conform to fit in with your friends, anyone can see why that is wrong. You will end up hating your tattoo 20 years from now or spend more money removing your tattoo.

  25. I have to agree with Bonniejean. I think it is very important to discuss the significant history of tattoos. They have been around for so many years. I think that tattoos do sometimes serve as a form of a communication, but to me the more accurate description is tattoos serve as symbols. The tattoos, even in past history, have symbolized something. Whether it be a life story, cultural ritual, or just a period in a person’s life, the tattoo is more a symbol. Tattoos as symbols do contribute to various cultures. An individual’s tattoos may categorize themselves with a particular culture. Therefore, the correct interpretation of the tattoo may only come from the associated culture. Others, from different cultures, may view the tattoo differently.

  26. Bonniejean points out a great point about tattoos, that tattoos go back to the earliest stage in human history. In October of 1991 a Bronze Age tattooed man around 5,500 years old was dicovered between Austria and Italy in the Tyrolean Alps. The Iceman, is the oldest known human to have medicinal tattoos preserved upon his mummified skin (http://www.vanishingtattoo.com/tattoo_museum/upper_paleolithic.html). This is just so interesting that tattoos go back so far. In many cultures it was an honor or it was their culture to get tattoos, but why not now? Why do people in today’s society take that old culture away? I think it’s because people in today’s society see a lot of tattoos as really trashy and poorly-chosen, and it’s one thing to do that with clothes but tattoos are permanent. Plus, one of the reasons some people get tattoos is so they can define their own body, but they do it very aggressively so people associate tattoos with gangs and really abrasive personalities, etc.

  27. Many people carry on tattooing as a form of art in which each individual tattoo has its own meaning the way tattooing was intented to be, however today I believe that tattoos as a whole are beginning to carry messages, regardless of what the actual tattoo is. What I mean is that some people, not all people, who get tattoos get them for the stigma associated with having “a tattoo” or any tattoo. This stigmas of rebellion, or being an individual, or not abiding by the rules. People getting tattoos that have no meaning for purely cosmetic reasons such as a tribal armband in which they know no meaning for it are a perfect example of this. The tattoo may look cool, and it is visible to the rest of the public that sees this individual. The people viewing this person with this tattoo see this person as someone who is somewhat rebellious, and a risk taker, and dangerous. This is what I am saying, that much of modern tattooing has lost its true meaning, although I still believe that many people out there today still tattoo for the artistic and story telling values.

  28. Andrew, I totally agree with you that now-a-days people just get them to get them to “fit in” or be known as a rebel or what not. The tribal tattoos are a good example. Another one I was thinking of are the nautical star tattoos, most people only get them because there favorite rocker has them or they are cool but do they actualy know the true meaning and where they first started? I wasn’t even sure. I had to look it up and it said noone really knows. Some think that it came from the sailors (it’s a symbol for finding one’s way home or more symbolically even finding one’s path in life because the sailors used the stars to find their way home), some think it came from rockers (also finding one’s way home), some think it came from military (the symbolism and meaning is the same as the early sailors by finding one’s way in life), and some think it started with the gay and lesbian groups (many lesbians where the nautical star tattoo to show their connection with their early pioneering sisters). Why do they get these if they are not in any of those groups or even know what they mean? because they think it looks cool and I’m not saying it doesn’t. those stars are sweet, but why would you want to get something that so many people have? If your going to get a tattoo get something with meaning to you!

  29. I like this entry. Tattoos can be used for many things. Art, people could use it to show off their bodies. Or a story, either describing someone or something that they adore or like and how that thing happened. I think tattoos are another way people “talk about stuff” that don’t really like to talk about their issues.

    1. I agree Tyler H tattoos are use to describe as story. Tattoos are also a way for people to express themselves. The main point is whether people like their tattoo or not the person that got it likes it. I also agree that getting a tattoo helps people talk about stuff they don’t really want to talk about.

  30. tattoos are thought up as a negative image. tattoos are thought up for a person of a minority very bad and people think they are in gangs. I have 3 and all are hiden becauee I know if they were exposed I probably would have a hard time finding a job.

  31. Tyler in all respect I do not get what you mean by your last statement saying that “I think tattoos are another way people” talk about stuff “that don’t really like to talk about their issues.” When a person gets a tattoo that has a meaning to it they know people are going to ask so they know that they are going to have to tell people I know when people ask me about my tattoos and what’s the meaning behind them I’m excited to have them and say why I picked what I picked.

  32. I do believe tattoos are a form of communication. When you look at peoples tattoos it’s kind of like looking at a book. It is a book of life experiences and each tattoo represents a page or something in the person’s past time.

  33. I have tattoos and plan on getting more. I also have a few piercings. I think that body modification is a way of self expression and that it’s an important way of self expression. It’s a way to show who you are as an individual and it’s a permanent form of self expression so it will always be a part of you. That is very important in this ever-changing society.

  34. Tatoos are and always will be something that is deeply personal to the individual that decides to adorn themselves with art that they will maintain for their entire lives. I presently have one tatoo, and it is a quote from a book that read. The moment the words from the book entered and took meaning within my mind, I identified with them on a profound level. I consciously identified that this particular phrase was something that i desired to brand upon my skin for the remainder of my life, and some time after that. People who get tattoos because something truly speaks to them, know that their decision was made in order to appease or impress no one else other than themselves, and nothing that anyone else says can swindle them into feeling even the slightest bit of regret even for a second. people that get tattoos due reasons not of their own convictions are doomed to one day wake up, look in the mirror and prostrate over their own ineptitude. That said, I will submit that when I decide to get a tattoo, the only physical options I considered regarding where my tattoo would lie were my back and chest, because I knew that one day, a tattoo anywhere else may inhibit my options career wise.

  35. Although I do not have a tattoo nor do I plan on getting any time soon, if I were to ever get one it would have to be for something great I accomplished. That’s just the way I look at it because I think too many people get tattoos on impulse and end up regretting them years later. This is not something I would like.

  36. At one point in my life, I felt a great urge to get a tattoo. However, now that I have matured and have a better understanding of who I am as person, I am very thankful that I never went through with getting a tattoo. Even though I myself do not have a tattoo I respect that others have them and greatly enjoy hearing peoples stories about why they have their tattoos.

  37. This is a very interesting topic. Most people with tattoos are viewed as being bad boys or bad girls that have something to prove. With the stats the way they are today that would mean many people are “bad”. It is interesting to view tattoos as a way of history. Looking back on each tattoo you would know exactly where you were and what made you decide to get that tattoo.

  38. I strongly agree with this blog, I believe you can understand a person’s personality by the tattoos they get. You can learn a lot about a person by what tattoos a person has on them. For example, you can tell if a person is religious if they have a bible verse or a tattoo of Jesus on the cross. Also you can tell what organization or group a person is in by the tattoos they have. Also tattoos are considered art and art is a form or expression and communication, so in that sense I do agree completely with this blog. Tattoos can be expressed in so many different ways by opinions. Also people can get their point across by the form of tattoos they have and the way the tattoo is expressed.

  39. I remember when Dennis Rodman was on the Bulls in the 1990s, he was such a rarity with all of his tattoos. In fact, he was referred to as a ‘bad boy’. Now I look at the NBA and the majority of players have body art. I think this is manifestation of how the culture has shifted to be more accepting of tattoos. Society may still have some flawed notions regarding body art, but the building blocks to acceptance are there. With television shows like Miami Ink and LA Ink tattoos are stream-lining into the general populations and are becoming less and less the mark of a subculture.

  40. This article has many truths to it Tattoos are becoming an acceptable form of self expression in our society today. I’ve noticed a movement or change in the way my generation especially perceives tattoos. Previously in history tattoos were predominately stereotyped to certain groups, this were the “bad kids,” the punks or the deviant labeled. Previous generations have made the pre conceived notion that tattoos represent bad things and if you have one your more or less deviant and not as “good” as your tattooless counterpart. Things have changed it has become more socially acceptable to have a tattoo and be proud of it. I see all sorts of different people wearing tattoos in viewable places and they are proud of it. What i think is significant to this change is in fact how it gives us a form of self expression we are able to personalize ourselves and become more individualistic. They also symbolize that we are in control of our own bodies and no one but ourselves can decide what we do with it. Also i think the meanings of tattoos have changed like you stated earlier they often have stories or meaning behind them. These permanent memories which we have symbolized into each individual tattoo have become a way to promote our own personal growth. Although previous generations still see tattoos as deviant and rebellious the future generations are more accepting of tattoos as a freedom of choice and expression of ones self.

  41. I have to agree that tattoos are a way of representing one’s self. Often times, tattoos are a way for people to express their feelings and to show their individuality. It is interesting to see how the attitudes of tattoos have changed from negative to positive. Since more and more people are getting them, they are becoming more acceptable world wide. The one thing I would recommend is before you just get a tattoo, carefully think about it and make sure it is what you want. Once it is on, it is very hard to come off.

  42. The taboo or distaste for tattooing that persists in our culture today most likely stems from our country’s cultural origins and the fact that tattooing was foreign, pagan, or savage to medieval and Renaissance-era Europeans. The Anglo-Saxon/European culture that formed our nation had rank, class, and social placement exhibited through a person’s clothing, jewelry, or other removable adornments, not through skin markings. Permanent, outward expression of rank, class, and social placement is so adverse to the norm of removable adornments as to be frightening in a way. Tattoos may be taboo because they are permanent, and as a culture we’re very used to change and social mobility.

    Some newlyweds these days get a tattoo of a wedding ring on their finger. These tattoos probably would have been very strange in the past, but with its occurrence today it’s even stranger. At least “till death do us part” was pretty literal back in the day; now there are definitely a lot of people who want to be sure their rings can come off. Imagine vowing to love, cherish, and honor someone while getting a tattoo of their name on your ring finger. Such permanence is not the norm for American people, though it is in some other cultures. I don’t know if that makes our sense of commitment weaker or stronger.

  43. Although I do not have any tattoos, I believe that they are a way of communication. Some people may take pictures when they want to remember something, while others may get the picture on their body. Yes, that is a big difference, but people with tattoos would probably agree. For a couple years now I’ve been going back and forth wondering if I should get a tattoo myself. However, I can’t seem to find something that is so meaningful to place on my body forever. I don’t see tattoos as being taboo, but I understand why one might believe they are. Tattoos are a freedom of speech and a way of personalizing your own mark on the world. I wouldn’t judge someone or like an individual any less if they had tattoos or piercings all over their body. It’s a personal preference and acquired taste. I feel that because America is a free country, any individual who wishes to express themselves should be accepted no matter which way they chose to do it.

  44. I agree with you. Tattoos portrait a story and is a way of expressing yourself. Everyone has the right to do with their body as like but I think that’s a certain level. Some people take tattoos for no reason and just tattoo anything on their body. Some people get tattoos for a more pleasure way because they like the feeling of the needle. Others like me choose tattoos that symbolize and have a story behind the meaning of each and one of them. A reflection of my feelings and beliefs are picture on my body to let others know the way I think. Tattoos are worked of art. Is like putting your thoughts into a picture and tattoo to your body. It looks good if you know how to show it off and where to put it on your body. We all have the right to express our self in any kind of matter and tattoos have become a trend not just a gang or criminal mark.

    1. I agree with your comment completely. Tattoos have so many different meanings. They represent so much. Also like you said if someone wants to get a tattoo for no reason they why not. Who cares its not your body. But I think the majority of people get tattoos for meaning and for a story to tell.

  45. I agree! I think tattoos are not only an art form but also a message. Painters paint what inspires them and I think the same goes for tattoos. I myself do not have one but am planning on getting one. I think that it is important to not just get one, or several, spur of the moment, its not that special that way. It has to be something special to that person and something that should have a lot of thought put into. I think some people look a little ridiculous when they are covered in random tattoos. Tattoos are a personal message not just a sign of deviance.

    1. Olivia, I agree that it is not a good idea to get a lot of tattoos all at the same time without thinking about it. I also agree that people look crazy when they are covered in random tattoos. I also think that when people have their whole body covered in tattoos is weird and it makes them look a little crazy.

  46. I completely agree with you! I actually want a tattoo myself, but when I asked my parents if I could get one, they said, “No way. If you do and I found out, you will be kicked out of the house.” I was not happy at all, because honestly I believe that was taking it way too far. But overall, I think tattoo’s are a great way to show your true colors. Not literally colors, but it is a way to show some deep things that you believe in. Some people I do think get way too many tattoo’s, but overall, there is no harm in getting a couple at all. I believe every tattoo should have a meaning that is important to you. I hate hearing people say they got a tattoo because the picture looked cool, that is ridiculous and a complete waste of money and in general, a big waste. I want just one tattoo, and when I turn 21 I will get a cross as a tattoo.

  47. I also believe that tattoos are a great way to express yourself. Each tattoo can have its own story behind it, or represent something special. But, a tattoo will stick with your forever, so you should have a meaning or a purpose behind each tattoo you get. I personally don’t have a tattoo, and don’t really plan on getting one in the near future, but I’m not saying I would never get one. Society does have a bit of a negative opinion toward tattoos, but if tattoos are becoming more and more popular that negative opinion will dwindle down to the point where society doesn’t have a negative opinion about them at all.

    1. I agree with Michael’s comment. I believe that tattoos are a great way to express yourself. Tattoos were looked down upon in previous generations but now are becoming popular. Tattoos have become a great form of art as well.

  48. Most of my friends and family members have tattoos that express their remembrance of a family member/friend that has deceased. To me, this is a beautiful way to remember that person and a perfect example of this is my cousin; she lost both of her parents and her sister in a car accident and has a wonderful collage of their names and a symbol that only she would know represents them. What makes this story even more interesting is that Molly, my cousin, has a severe memory loss condition and some days she can’t remember what happened before that day, and this collage on her back helps her remember what happened. Yes, some days she cries a lot, but it is a little more personal when her family is literally always with her to tell her, rather than her brother or aunts and uncles. I would love to get a tattoo with the same meaning as Molly did, but I’m terrified of needles. Everyone has a reason to get a tattoo and each one tells a story of a person’s past.

  49. It’s fascinating when someone has that connection, that depth, or a tale linked to their tattoo’s, but is that always the case? How often is it peer pressure induced to get one? How often to young minds not know the details of their actions? Or on a less serious note, how often do people do it spur of the moment or what? I am still inkless, although I do have a handful of things I could imagine getting, I feel too indecisive to get any myself, even though being offered to be paid for by two friends already. I am somewhat curious though, how often to tattoo’s drive us apart? I’ve heard plenty of speak of how shallow people that get tribal bands, or Chinese or Japanese letters on them are, how generic some people can be and the like, this being the case I would separate the images into two categories, one of stories and personal connections, and one sort of just “l’art pour l’art.” As I said, I respect your personal ideology, but I would be concerned for those that ink just because they like it or they want something, can this not cause some discrimination? Be mindful, we live in a society where these actions and displays can be considered the works of outcasts, it can categorize a person as strange, it can cause problems getting or performing a job, and it can even cause tensions among friends and family if performed under faulty precautions. Am I wrong in this thought?

  50. I enjoy your article. I agree entirely I believe that most people have tattoo to represent a time in there life that was amazing or memorable. Also they are works of art and a solid for of communication as you were saying. Someone has a tattoo of dogs or something you know oh well they are about that. Also a lot o people like to get saying or quotes that mean a lot to them and I another form of communication. I am not entirely for the advertisement personally but if someone wants to do that to their own body then why not.

    1. andrewj2206, I agree that people get tattoos that are amazing or memorable. There are some people that get random tattoos that don’t make sense. I also agree that they are works of are and everyone has their own way of expressing how they feel

  51. I agree somewhat with this article in the fact that people should not be judge just because they have a tattoo. Having said that i don’t think i will ever get a tattoo because i just don’t feel the need to permanently mark my body but if you want to do that to your own body then go ahead. People shouldn’t be able to have a say over what you do to your own body.

  52. I’ve never been a stranger to tattoos coming from a family where all of the men were hardcore bikers you could only imagine. My mother even has a couple. Even so I was part of a family that discouraged me from getting a tattoo. I could see why. My uncle had numerous tattoos one I’ve always particularly recalled was a partially nude female with a snake wrapped around her on his right arm. Above and below he had 10 different ex-girlfriends names inked on him with x’s and voids over them. It reprensented a past life he wished to leave behind, and never be reminded of, but that could never happen. With all of my family’s discouragement I still did not listen, and I’m not ashamed of any of my tattoos nor am I regretful. Uniqueness, individuality, and distinctiveness can be expressed in many varieties, including ink. If you want to tell YOUR story on YOUR body, do it. Tattoos are individually made pieces of artwork, but no one can buy it at a gallery. It’s designed for you with its own purpose. It can signify you’re where you’ve been, where you’re at, or where you’re heading to.

  53. This article was written in 2009 and it is now 2014. 5 years later I can completely 110% say that tattoos are absolutely the new form of communication. When people have a message they’re trying to convey or get across they get a tattoo. When someone you love dies, you get a tattoo. When you accomplish something, you get a tattoo. People will get a tattoo for ANYTHING now days. I can see where people would frown upon or generation and the craze for tattoos. But I can completely understand why some people get the tattoos they get sometimes. Sometimes a message is just so powerful and there is no other way to throw the message out there then getting a tattoo so it will forever be with you and people can forever see it. But when people in our generation are getting silly pictures, or stupid drunken tattoos I can see where people would think tattoos are a bad form of communication. Some people are way to shy to come out and speak on what they truly believe and a tattoo is the only way for them to show what there passionate about.

  54. I believe tattoos are a form of self expression. Its of form or art and communication. Tattoos can represent and remind an individual of a happy time in their life. It annoys me when people say tattoos are gross and shouldn’t be allowed. I feel it is a way for an individual to personalize their own body. I feel as if an individual should really consider and make sure that what they are getting before they get this tattoo that will be there forever. Some people get their significant other’s name engraved and i feel like that is a very silly idea but who is to tell someone what they can and cannot put on their body?

  55. I am not against people getting tattoos. I mean everyone is free to do whatever they want with their body. I understand that it is very popular now for a lot of people to have tattoos in their body. As you stated 15% of Americans have a tattoo. I am form part of the 85% that don’t even though I realize those number have changed. Most of my friends have multiple tattoos and as you said most of the people get a tattoo for something that makes them happy or something they are ok to have in printed in their bodies forever (even though their are ways to get ride of them now). Well this is where I get annoyed with this subject. I think its ridiculous for people to get the name of their partner. I know so many people that have done this and its the stupidest thing EVER! Later on they break up and they have to hide their tats now or remove them. They also have to hide it when they want a well paying job since some jobs don’t accept tats to be shown. Even some low paying jobs don’t sometimes like waitressing. So if you sometimes have to hide them what’s the point of having one. Also as you get older they tend to look very bad. Yikes! However I do think it is really popular and people get amazing ink sometimes like figures that are really appealing that make you ask what it represents. But I personally do not have any and plan on keeping it that way.

  56. I agree that tattoos are a way of communication. Some People who have tattoos always get it because it has a meaningful story. All of my friends have tattoos , their always trying to make me get one but I don’t think now is the right time. I don’t think it’s the right time to get a tattoo because when you go and apply for a job some people are going to look at you as not being professional. My cousin had that happen to him one time, he went to an interview and they saw the tattoo on his neck and just couldn’t stop staring at him. Tattoos to some people re touchy subject, they think if you get a tattoos you have just screwed up your body. What they don’t think about is the story behind them.

  57. I agree that tattoos can be a way of communication, but I also feel that people will get a tattoo just to get a tattoo. Sometimes the message that you are trying to communicate isn’t some deep meaning. For example, my coworker has a lot of different tattoos and some of them have a meaning and some of them do not. His entire left arm is full of different quotes from his favorite songs and album art from his favorite artists. It is so cool to hear the stories of why he chose the tattoos he did. Though the story may be short, he has a story for each one and that’s really cool to see happen with this generation. Tattoos are often perceived as “unprofessional” and should not be shown in the workplace but it’s just art. Let their art be seen!

    1. Liz, I agree people get tattoos just to get them and when you ask them the story behind it they be like “I don’t know, I got it when I was drunk.” There are some people that have really good stories for their tattoos. I think some people call tattoos “unprofessional” in the workplace because they don’t want their business to be bashed or don’t want people to talk about their business.

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