By Iulia Vesel
“My wife died two years ago” and “YOLO.” What do these two sentences have in common? They’re both acceptable reasons to get a tattoo. Even though tattoos now have a hip, modern touch, this art has been around for more than 200 years. After the 1800s, a rough form of it was introduced to the American public by immigrants, and the first professional tattooist was German.
Current technology is light years away from its primitive form. We’ve gone from carving the skin with our own hands to injecting ink through sterilized needles powered by an electric motor. But, with this advance of technology comes an infinite amount of choices and an even bigger amount of meanings.
Nowadays, it’s a common belief that because there are so many designs you can chose from, the one you choose has to have a deep message. After all, it will be on your skin forever, right?
I could shove “We Heart It” posts about the body being a temple that needs decorated walls down everyone’s throats, or we could simply look over what free choice and the phrase “it’s my own body” mean. If you believe that random roman numerals would look good inked below your collarbone, knock yourself out.
This isn’t Twitter. We’re not subtweeting. People can write on, draw or paint any part of their body without it having to do with anyone else. Believe it or not, one of the most common reasons people get tattoos is because they look good. If their tattoos end up having meaning, so be it, but it’s rather unfair to frown upon people just because their ink doesn’t remind them of grandma.
Meaningful or not, tattoos can be accessories that one’s very comfortable with sharing, or they can be extremely intimate. You could get two crossed arrows on the back of your hand because you were at a crossroads in your life at that point or because it looked dope.
I do want a tattoo that will represent the core of my being, but it will be accompanied by two others that are purely aesthetic. Anything goes.
When you look upon someone with tattoos, it should be judgement-free, regardless of how you feel about the topic. That said, I respect those who don’t think people should inject ink in their skin; I just disagree with them.
I disagree with interviewers who automatically lower their applicant’s chances when he or she rolls up his sleeve and shows their ink. I disagree with people who think that if you work in a field like law or medicine, it’s inappropriate to have a tattoo. I disagree with all of that because tattoos are a way of self-expression; they define who you are. A job hardly ever does that.
But before becoming a way of defining those who got tattoos, tattooing was a decorative art, and some of us should remind ourselves that before we frown upon an ankle butterfly.
Having a tattoo without an underlying message can actually be a life saver sometimes. Contemplate this: if you’re having a bad day, think about the fact that somewhere, someone has their ex’s name forever inked on their body.
I don’t think asking for a judgement-free view on this topic is too hippie.
We all have a right to express ourselves freely, which means we can all act and say whatever we want to those without their whole life story behind their ink, but maybe we could consider the fact that just because you can judge someone based on this doesn’t mean you should. And at the end of the day, if you find yourself judging people with purely aesthetic tattoos, I’ll find myself judging you.