Tattoos In Western Culture Essay Example
Tattoos In Western Culture Essay Example

Tattoos In Western Culture Essay Example

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  • Pages: 7 (1873 words)
  • Published: December 18, 2017
  • Type: Essay
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In modern times quite drastically. It Is slowly becoming more acceptable to own and display tattoos on one's body. In more conservative times, those with tattoos were looked on as social outcast, turned down for Jobs and seen as strange outsiders. However, within the past half century, tattoos have steadily become more acceptable.

Millions of people In America now proudly tattoo their skin, with everything from religious symbols to naked women.

There is a whole industry based around tattoos, tattoo care, and basically everything tattoo. There are now expensive clothing lines that base their imagery on tattoo art, such as the De Hardy brand (no matter how stupid the clothes actually look). The art of tattooing has changed a great deal from Its orally, with everything from the style of the art to its meaning.


Tattoos today are an ever increasing part of Western culture, and their appropriation into the mainstream will only continue. Tattooing is an art form that has literally been around for ages.

People from all across the globe have been tattooing each other for thousands of years. Estimates re that this practice was going on even as long as 200,000 years ago or more. However, there is archeological evidence of tattooing that dates back to around 30,000 BCC In the form of bone tattoo needles and inks (Rush 3). The earliest actual tattoo that has been discovered was discovered on an Egyptian mummy.

The mummy was from around 2100 BCC and had a dark, blackish-blue tattoo on its stomach (Rush 19). Tattoos have had numerous meaning throughout the ages.

Most tattoos adorned by ancient peoples signified rank or occupation. These

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people had numerous other forms of scarification to signify this as well, such as body piercing ND literally scarring their bodies (Demoded 10). However, it was not until the eighteenth century that the art of tattooing was brought to the West by British explorers (Demoded 2).

Tattoos in Western culture began because the explorers came back adorning Polynesian folk-art on their skin. From then on tattoos were always shunned or rejected from the mainstream.

At this time the only people who really had tattoos were other sailors or explorers, mostly people who spent their time at sea and had no use for the rules of society on the mainland. Slowly tattoos began to spread across society. The spread started with the military. Since the sailors had already been getting tattoos, the other branches followed.

Most of the tattoos were memorial in nature or had something to do with the soldier's unit. From the military tattooing spread into subcultures such as the bikers, possibly due to a high number of members of the subculture also being military or ex-military members.

Eventually, tattoos have spread to most of the sub- cultures in Western society. From bikers, the punks started tattooing, and from there almost every other musical subculture got into it.

Now, subcultures have their own pacific styles of tattoos, and there is a subculture solely based around people with tattoos. Tattoos will always be a major part of these subcultures, even as they continue to be appropriated Into the mainstream. Recently, tattoos have become extremely popular. This started around the sass's, 1 OFF National Geographic News estimates that 14% of Americans have at least one tattoo


That is 40 million Americans for an art form that has long been thought of as underground and extremely sub-cultural. People from all walks of life are getting tattooed.

From bikers to the middle class, and from punks to blue collar workers, people from every class make up the tattooing subculture. There are numerous possible reasons as to why tattoos are becoming more and more appropriated into the mainstream culture. One of the possible reasons is the glorification of tattooed subcultures, especially in music.

In the ass's glam metal was popular and bands like Motley Cure were hugely popular and wildly successful. They were also covered in tattoos, with most members sporting full sleeves.

The public was infatuated with bands like these and their image, so it would only make sense that popular artists having tattoos would only increase tattoo consumption. More recently, rap has become insanely popular. Most rappers are tattooed extremely heavily. Icons like 50 Cent and Ill Wayne are tattooed to the point of ridiculousness.

Tattoos in musical subcultures have always existed, but when those genres of music were brought into the mainstream, it increased the mainstream publics exposure to the lifestyle of the artists and their tattoos.

Another reason that could possibly be behind the explosion in tattoo popularity is the fact that many people that are considered role models in our society now sport tattoos. The aforementioned musicians are excluded from this u to the fact that most of society does not look favorably on their lifestyles, Just their music. However, now it is not uncommon to see one's favorite sports star "inked out. Players such as David Beckman

and Shah are watched by millions of people, sporting tattoos the whole time.

When the people that are looked on as role models in society do something, this generally makes it seem more acceptable for the rest of society to follow suit. Finally, there seems to be an ever-increasing number of memorial tattoos. This originated in the military, but has since inspired many people to grieve through the art on their bodies. Memorial tattoos account for a staggering amount of business that tattoo parlors receive, an estimated 30%-40% (Mast).

With that high of a percentage, the popularity of memorial tattoos obviously has a direct impact on the overall popularity and acceptance of tattoos in general.

All of these are possible reasons as to why tattoos have become more popular in recent years. However, the most likely reason for the spike in popularity is not one, but all of these reasons. They all increase the number of people willing to go out and get tattoos, and all of them are responsible for making tattoos more acceptable by society. The rise in popularity has created a community for those associated with the art form.

There are conventions, shows, magazines, and websites dedicated solely to the art of tattooing. Not only is there a community for those who adorn tattoos, but that community is broken up into different classes.

There are three separate sub-classes of this "tattoo community. " The first is the biker/working class. These people are often poorer and have cheaper tattoos. They are looked down upon by the highest class as being losers and outsiders, and the high class in the tattoo community feels no

connection with them. The next class is the "young punks.

This young class is obviously made up of young members, a lot of them involved in some other sub culture, music, MA fighting, etc. There is some overlap between this class and the IS the middle-class elite tattoo class. This is made up of wealthier middle-upper class people and elite tattoo artists. They tend to Judge other members of the "tattoo community' based on the quality and quantity of their art. All of these people have some sort of loose connection based on the fact that they have tattoos, but for some, especially the upper class, it goes no further than that.

Members of the community might attend tattoo conventions where people of all classes mix amicably and discuss their work, but for the most part the community is loose as a whole, but tight within the classes (Demoded 3, 25-30).

Despite the fact that tattoos have extremely sub- cultural roots and a sub-culture exists around the art form, tattooing has definitely been appropriated into mainstream modern culture. This is seen through numerous Nays, the first and foremost is the sheer number of people tattooed. A study done by the American Journal of Dermatology showed that 36% of Americans age 18-29 had tattoos.

Over one-thirds of the young adult population is an enormous chunk, and definitely well within the mainstream. That age group is arguably the largest consumers of pop culture and the fact that 36% of them have tattoos makes it undeniable that tattooing has permeated the mainstream. There are also other factors that showcase the tattoo's obvious appropriation into the mainstream.

For example,

there is now a Barbie that has tattoos on it (Stout 1035). Once Barbie does it, it is officially in the mainstream. There is also a wide-variety of reality television shows that are centered on tattooing.

These shows often showcase certain tattoo parlors or artists and the work they do.

Shows like L. A. Ink, Inked, and Miami Ink all are in this vein. Furthermore, many pop culture heroes now sport numerous tattoos.

Ere cast of the hit show Jersey Shore is heavily inked, especially the males on the show. So many celebrities are tattooed, from actors and actresses to athletes, famous people are seen all the time showing off their tattoos in the public eye. The appropriation of tattoos into modern mainstream culture definitely says a lot about our culture today.

The fact that tattoos are so popular is possibly a response to many people wanting to rebel in some way. These people find tattooing as a socially acceptable way to rebel and express themselves for all to see.

It is not enough to Just rebel by how one thinks or acts, these people who get tattooed want others to see how rebellious and cool they are. Tattoos have become nothing more than a fashion accessory to many in our culture. It is ironic that what was once a symbol of rebellion IS almost a symbol of conformity, yet still viewed by some as a symbol of rebellion.

It is a sort of rebellion through conformity that has existed in many sub-cultures for decades. Tattoos becoming appropriated into mainstream culture also are symbolic of the "moral decay' of society.

With every generation, this country

gets further and further away from its Puritan roots, and often this shows in how people behave. Common are reports that society is becoming more and more violent, teens are having more sex, and basically the moral foundation of our nation is crumbling. Rotators are part of this.

The fact that more people have tattoos is definitely a step away from the Puritan roots of the country. Often movement away from these roots is viewed as immoral Just because there is a break in tradition. There is nothing inherently immoral or rebellious about tattooing, it has Just been viewed that way by Nesters society for so long that it became tradition.

{ears. From its beginnings with ancient people, to tattooing today where most mean absolutely nothing. One can try to place meaning on the Tweedy Bird that is tattooed on their ankle, however this Just ends up looking pathetic.

Tattooing today has lost almost all of its symbolism. With the ancient people, tattoos were adorned to signify rank, family standing, or occupation.

In the early 20th century, they were a largely underground symbol of rebellion. Now, the only thing that tattoos symbolize is that money has some extra money from their last paycheck, so might as well get a new pair of Jeans or a tattoo. Tattooing has become appropriated into mainstream popular culture and the art has been commoditized too large extent.

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