In our previous blog posts “What Your Hemline Says About You” and “Teaching Self Respect Through Clothing Choices”, we discussed how the world makes assumptions about us from our clothing choices and how the way we dress communicates the way we feel about ourselves to the world. Does this hold true for the tattoos we put on our body?
Tattoos have been around for thousands of years, dating back to Neolithic times, used for healing (like acupuncture) and to show status, religious beliefs, or declare your love. Today tattoos are also used to decorate the body, show allegiance to a group, or as a form of artistic expression. Reality shows LA Ink and NY Ink have helped make getting tattoos commonplace. It’s no longer just motorcycle club members and prison inmates who have tattoos. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, even grandparents are all stepping into the tattoo parlor to get inked. Approximately 36% of US adults age 18 – 25 have at least one tattoo, and 40% of US adults between ages 26 – 40. That’s 45 million people, just in the US. That’s a lot of ink!
Consider Rico Genest, who starred in a commercial for Dermablend: www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtUUOxskTA0
At the beginning of the video, Rico looks like your average guy. Does your impression of him change once the make-up is removed and his tattoos are shown? Although this is an extreme case, and not everyone would consider getting their entire body inked with such harsh tattoos, Rico’s story makes us confront our own reactions and helps us experience how others might see us.
Think before you ink. Don’t rush out to get that tat the minute you’re of legal age. Of the tattoo regretters, 45% got inked between 18-25. And while tattoos can be removed, at present it’s an expensive, moderately painful (depending on your tolerance), multiple visit, laser surgery procedure with some risk of scarring, and the chance of incomplete removal of the pigments. Ouch!
Pick a tattoo that has personal meaning for you. Heather, who has been involved with the Girl Guides for 20 years, got a trefoil, symbol of the Girl Guides, inked on her head, demonstrating her deep love and affection for the Guides. Some loved it, some not (predictably, a few parents of her young guides weren’t so keen). Here’s the story:
Consider the long-term aspects of getting a tattoo? Will you still love your dolphin, star, flower, or dagger piercing the heart tattoo in 10, 20, or 40 years? A recent survey showed that nearly a third of the people regretted getting a tattoo, especially those done on the upper body:
Decide on the tattoo placement. Do you want it always visible or in an area that can be covered up? Although you might not be thinking about it right now, you will eventually be hanging out with grandma, heading out for school and job interviews, and even meeting future in-laws. In the distant future, imagine what your kids might think of that dragon tat curling up your neck!
Whatever your age or stage of life, give yourself the time to learn more, consider your options, and make your best choice.
Tattoo Statistics: www.statisticbrain.com/tattoo-statistics/
History of Tattoos: www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/tattoo.html
Girls’ Respect Groups: An after-school program for middle and high school girls used in the US, Canada, and 30+ countries worldwide, GRG encourages girls and young women to show respect for self and others in everyday life choices. www.GirlsRespectGroups.com