There was a time when tattoos were reserved for sailors, bikers and convicts. When you had to be pretty badass to get ink. Safety was not a concern and tattooing was a likely source of some nasty diseases. But all that has changed. As a society we seem to be moving towards a rather quick embrace of being all inked up.
When I was 15 I begged my mom to let me get a tattoo. Her answer at the time was of course a huge no. She told me that people would judge me and that it would affect my chances of getting a good job. She also mentioned something about it being forever. She was right. At that point it was still a very taboo thing and not at all mainstream. The people that were covered in tattoos were considered rebels or miscreants. And those that were “respectable” and had them, hid them under clothing. My mom went on to get two tattoos of her own, in case you were thinking she just doesn’t like them. She put them were she could hide them under clothes. It took me until I was 25 to finally get my first tattoo, and I got it where clothing hides it.
Almost 20 years after asking her for that tattoo society has almost done a 180. Tattoos or ink has become so mainstream that they make television shows about. I had a birthday party a month ago, of the 8 people there (all within a 10 year age group), only my ultra conservative husband was without a single tattoo. In fact the majority had at least 5 tattoos. When I think of all the people I know, most have at least one tattoo. It would be mostly those older than me that don’t. It would appear that we are accepting tattoos as a normal part of our culture. I wonder if that irritates the original pioneers of tattoos. Or maybe it’s a relief, or validation.
I am almost optimistic enough to think that appearances are become less of a focus in our culture. That we are recognizing differences and rights to expression. That perhaps we are becoming less segregated as a whole. Of course this is a long shot. As I say this, commercials with unrealistic looking people are filling the tv screen and somewhere someone is being beat up for their race, sex or sexual preference. Still. It would seem with recent acceptance of homosexuality, tattoos and sex and race equality standards, that perhaps we are sifting through to find our humanity.