People of all ages and from all different backgrounds have been getting tattoos. On a nice day in just about any public place it does not take long to spot a tattoo. The types of tattoos vary from flash art (picked off a wall), custom tattoos such as portraits of family, even memorials. The backgrounds of the people sporting these tattoos also vary. It could be anyone from a business man with a memorial of a friend, to the teenage girl with the butterfly on her ankle. What is even more interesting is the number of people who now have extensive tattoo coverage. They come from all walks of life. It was not that long ago that tattoos were considered “low life,” “trashy”. Perception for most has changed. Tattoos have become more mainstream.
Why Get a Tattoo
Getting a tattoo can be influenced by many factors. Gang affiliation can be a contributing factor to getting a tattoo. A tattoo could be used to mark someone as a member, or to show a level of commitment to a gang. A tattoo could be a right of passage, used to signify a major event or change in a person’s life. In history you can see this with tribes. Tattoos were often used to show rank or position in a tribe. In the US we may not use tattoo’s to show a rank in our city, but a tattoo is usually an indication that you are an adult. To get a tattoo you must be 18 years old or have guardian consent. A tattoo is one way that you can decorate your body showing your personality. A tattoo to some could be a sign of independence and freedom.
Effects on a job
One of the biggest balancing acts about a tattoo in current society is the workplace. Although tattoos are becoming increasingly acceptable in society they are not commonly considered part of the standard business casual dress code. A work place may ask you to cover your tattoo while on the job. According to Sawyer, “Employers are permitted to do this as long as they do not discriminate based on an employee’s gender, race, skin color, ethnicity, religion, or age.” (page 32) Placement of a tattoo above the collar-bone or below the wrist is considered to be a “job stopper”. Tattoos that can not be covered can put a limitation on job opportunities. Having a job-stopper tattoo does not mean that you can not have a job. Your place of employment would just need to be more accepting of tattoos such as: a night club, coffee shop, hair salon, mechanic shop. The US Military also has regulations about tattoos that must be adhered to. Many of these regulations include no job stoppers. According to John Reardon, “It is prohibited in many states and certain countries to tattoo someone below the wrist or on the neck or face.” (page 23)
Risks of a Tattoo
There are many things to be considered when you are looking to get a tattoo such as; Shop cleanliness and allergic reactions. When deciding where you are going to get a tattoo done at trust your instincts. When you first walk into a shop— this is where you judge a book by the cover— it should be clean. Educate yourself about what kind of needles (disposable or re-sterilized), ink (is it in singe use bottles or do how do they keep it from being contaminated), and other precautions that they have in place to protect you and them. You can ask to see their sterilization process if you would like. Watching the staff if they wear protective gloves, and when they change them will be a good indication about their cleanliness. If they answer the phone gloved and return to the tattoo with these same gloves that is a pretty good indication that their sterilization and cleanliness is not a priority. This initial visit to the shop is also a great opportunity to look at the artists work also. When you get a tattoo you are letting a needle poke you hundreds of times. You create an open wound and your potential for infection is high. By getting a tattoo you are increasing your chance of contracting a blood-borne disease, skin infections, scarring, and keloid formation, and allergic reactions. Red ink is the most common ink color to have an allergic reaction.
The personal meaning of a tattoo can vary from person to person. Flash tattoos are becoming less and less popular. Most prefer to have a “custom built” tattoo, something made special for them. These tattoos have their own meaning to the creator. If you are looking for something special there are resources out there to get inspiration such as; a tattoo shop, magazines, and the internet. You can find inspiration for your own personal tattoo just about anywhere. According to Kelly, “If you really want a tattoo, get it. Ultimately, you’re the only one who’s going to have to deal with it as you wander through life. If it means something and you like it, go for it!”
Kelly, Brett (2008). Reasons to Get a Tattoo (and Reasons Not To). Retrieved from http://blog.crankingwidgets.com/2008/05/05/get-a-tattoo/
Reardon, John. (2008). The Complete Idiots Guide to Getting a Tattoo. New York: Special Markets, Alpha Books.
Sawyer, Sarah. (2009). Frequently Asked Questions About Body Piercing and Tattooing. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc.
Winkler, Kathleen. (2002). Tattooing and Body Piercing: Understanding The Risks. New Jersey: Enslow Publishers, Inc.