It is 2018, Donald Trump is still in the White House but thankfully hasn’t caused a nuclear war, kids are eating laundry detergent and for some reason, tattoos are still seen as deviant.
Over the last few years, tattoos and tattoo culture has grown by leaps and bounds. A lot more employers have relaxed their policies concerning visible tattoos. Socially it has become more acceptable. We are seeing people with ink popping up in more professional spaces such as lawyers, doctors, social workers, and teachers. So why is that tattoos are more widely accepted?
Is it the imagery? Is it the message? Is it cultural? Is it religious? These are questions that I certainly do not have the answer to. However, as an individual with tattoos, I have my own experiences. Now, let me start off by saying that I have 3 tattoos. They are all on my arms, they are small, they are no political, they are not sexual, they are for all intents and purposes benign. I am Jewish so tattoos come with their own taboo.
In November of 2016, I began my journey towards weight loss surgery. I struggled with making the necessary life changes need in order to be successful at the surgery, and beyond. A few years back I had seen co-found of Reddit, Alexis Ohanian, give a talk on his book tour at Syracuse University. During his talk, he talked about how he grew up playing video games and that he always tried hard when he was on his last life. The idea that this was his final attempt pushed him towards success. That idea rang true to me so I got “Live Remaining: 0” tattooed on my right forearm in a pixelated font as a daily reminder that I am on my last life and to always give it my all. I did this for me. Well, this did not go over so well with my older Jewish Parents. They were very upset and angry with me. I believe, for some reason, they felt disrespected. At 33 years old, I was pissed that they were angry. I am an adult, it is my body and I should be able to do with it as I please.
A few months later, Olde Anchor Tattoo in Oswego, NY, was hosting a flash event doing animal paw tattoos to raise money for a local animal shelter. Well, I went up there and got a semicolon tattoo with a dog paw. Semicolon for my own struggles with mental health (see: Project Semicolon) and a dog paw for my puppy Bailey because he saved my life. Once again my parents were pissed, only this time we agreed to just not talk about it like adults.
I love tattoos. I love the look, I love the stories and reasoning behind them. I enjoy getting tattooed, it is a relaxing discomfort I like I to say. So clearly I have no issues with tattoos. I want more. So a week ago or so, I did just that. I got another tattoo. I got the chemical symbol for caffeine since I love coffee. This time, however, I had to avoid putting it out on social media out of concern of having an argument with my parents. This is my issues. At 34 years old I shouldn’t have to worry about these things.
I do not understand the stigma associated with tattoos. We have a generation going into their 30’s, in professional positions. They are your doctors, your lawyers, Your kid’s teachers, they are our first responders. They cook our food, brew our beer. They have tattoos. Obviously, not all of them and those of us with tattoos are in a minority. But just because I decide to have ink on my skin does not change who I am. It is no different to someone piercing their ear, dying their hair etc. I do not get it….