Today, piercings and tattoos have become less of a rebellious statement of youth angst and more of an accepted form of art and self expression. Even with this new acceptance, most of the older generation still sees piercings and tattoos as taboo.
Tribes such as the Maori have used tattoos as a sign of moving into adulthood by covering their face with a design that is unique to each individual. Others go under the needle for religious reasons and believe their tattoos hold the powers of animals and can protect them from bullets.
In America, tattoos are commonplace among members of the U.S. military who have a well established and longstanding culture. Among the older generation tattoos usually signify the rank of an individual or to indicate their unit. As the decades passed, however, tattooing and piercings became an expression of the rebellious youth to “Flip the Bird” to parents and society. In my generation, I’ve seen a great acceptance of tattooing and piercings and even a reverence or envy for certain designs.
Even with this growing acceptance, there are those in my generation that see tattooing as ugly or trashy and don’t understand the meaning behind someone wanting (for example) a tattoo in honor of a loved one. Getting a tattoo in someones honor is a powerful sign of love. However, even if the design is of a mother and child people will still judge harshly and form negative stereotypes.
Probably the most cliche design would be the, “I ‘heart’ Mom” tattoo on the shoulder. Even though this is a great message, in my my opinion, it’s too generic. A unique drawing with symbolism or a portrait would have much more meaning and give that person the resolve to not care what others think or say.
The most important question one should ask themselves before getting a tattoo is, “Will I still love this 30 years from now when I’m wrinkly?”. Just remember this: Tattoos are permanent! So getting your lovers name or your favorite bands logo may not be the wisest choice. Also, location is very important. If you’re in school to become a lawyer, then a neck tattoo is probably a bad idea.
Piercings on the other hand, can always be taken out. They may leave a small scar but are much less of a burden if you have a sudden change of heart.
I have only had one piercing and no tattoos.. yet. When I was 18 I got my right eyebrow pierced without telling my parents beforehand. When they saw what I did my mother laughed, my father lectured, but both were happy it wasn’t as permanent as a tattoo. The reactions I got from strangers ranged from envy and attraction to stereotyping and harsh judgments of character. The judgments I didn’t take to heart because I knew I liked what was on my face. In fact, I thought about getting my eyebrow pierced for months before getting it done. I wanted to make sure it was something I really wanted to do since I was aware of my indecisive nature. After a year of having my ring in I took it out because I was tired of it. Not because of the judgments or because I stopped liking it. I just had a change of heart and felt like a change was needed.
So before anyone decides on getting a piercing I would advise them to sleep on it. Not just for one or two nights but for awhile. If your want for it only grows then that shows you’re doing it for you!
If it’s a tattoo you’re thinking about I would suggest looking into how common your design is. We’re all unique people and getting a rehashed tattoo may lose it’s novelty. Also, research your local tattoo and piercing shops! Some run shady business practices by reusing needles and hiring the less talented artists.
Lastly, getting a tattoo or piercing is a great way of expressing oneself. So don’t feel peer-pressured into doing something you have to live with forever. Make it your own and you will never grow tired of it.