Tattoos Taboo?

Where does the tattoo stigma come from?

By Arturo Compean

Edgar Garza continues to show more of his tattoo of an Aztec warrior within a tribal flame. Photo by Arturo Compean

People have been getting tattoos for thousands of years, since the dawn of ancient Egypt. They were used for declarations of love, religious beliefs, adornments, amulets, status symbols, and even punishment. These permanent designs, whether plain or elaborate, were always personal. But why is it in this current culture that tattoos have become taboo?

Whenever you bring up the topic of tattoos to an adult, the most common automatic response is “don’t get a tattoo, you’ll regret it later on in life.” But do they really know if you’ll regret it at all? Yes, tattoos are permanent and have to be maintained to preserve the design, but to many people tattoos are a way of expressing deep emotion in a single image that will forever be there with them.

The reason tattoos become such a stigma is due to the fact that some people get tattoos frivolously rather than rationally. They walk in and see a cupcake and think it’s cute, so they get it on their ankle and end up regretting it the next day.

The public ends up seeing this tattoo and passes a negative judgement on tattoos in general. This creates a problem for the people who get tattoos because they want to show off an artistic expression, but it gets received as a disgrace. Tattoos are meant to be seen and adored, but with a few people’s mistakes it has become a shameful practice.

Getting a tattoo is a big decision and must be thought about carefully. Follow these tips if you’d like to someday get a tattoo.

  1. Decide – the first and most simple step is to choose to get a tattoo. Be positive that you are ready to take this huge commitment.
  2. Design – Be unique, go the extra mile to have something no one else will have because the whole idea of a tattoo is to be different and to stand out. This tattoo has to be something that you will always look at and say “wow.” But above all else, make sure this tattoo screams you.
  3. Location –
    • Pick where you want the tattoo. Will it be visible in normal day clothes? How about your work clothes? Think about these things as they could play a factor in getting a job.

      Hailey Bastian displays her own owl tattoo holding up a diamond. Photo by Arturo Compean
    • If the place looks sketchy, walk away. There are plenty of better tattoo parlors around. Make sure the area looks safe and clean, almost more sterile than a dentist office. If the area doesn’t look disinfected, how would you know if the needles they use will be sanitary?
  4. Safety – Safety is the number one priority for yourself. First of all, you need to make sure that the tattoo artist is wearing gloves.
    • Question – Ask if the ink has been recalled or has been contaminated. Ask if the needles are brand new. Just ask any questions if you do not feel comfortable.
    • Equipment – Most parlors will open up all their equipment in front of you to make sure you know that they are new, but if they don’t, it is your right to ask for a new set. If they refuse, you can refuse their service and walk away.
  5. Relax – Try not to be tense when you’re getting inked. It’s best to just sit back and relax as your creations begins.
  6. Clean – After you’re done getting your tattoo, your artist will go over with you how to properly clean your tattoo to keep any infection away.
  7. Enjoy – You’ve finally done it. It’s your tattoo that you’ll always have with you and now go off and show it to the world.

Even with the attached stigma of a tattoo, people nowadays are still getting them. The meaning behind a tattoo still stands, even if the public’s disapproval won’t subside. Tattoos are a great way to express emotion; they show off something about you that no one else can understand. They’re unique, just like you.