I sat in a chair in a laundry room in some guy’s house in southern California and got my first tattoo six years ago.
Obviously this is not ideal, nor is it exactly legal as far as health issues are concerned. However, at this time in recent history, most tattoo shops in my city were in some way run by the local chapter of one of the world’s largest (and most dangerous) motorcycle clubs. In turn, they weren’t necessarily places I wanted to go to. So I went to a known tattoo artist in the community who wasn’t associated with these shops, or any shop for that matter.
There is a stigma in our society about tattoos and that tattooed people are in some way associated with malevolent things like prison gangs or dodgy clubs that burn down rival tattoo shops, but we are not. In the past, this may have been the case, but the type of people who get tattoos today is changing, as are the shops they can go to. I can cover up my tattoos if I want to, but I don’t. I have always been fascinated with them as an art, and I think society is starting to accept the fact that they can indeed be beautiful.
According to a poll from Harris Interactive, one in five adults in America now has a tattoo, which says to me that over 60 million people in this country are starting to realize that tattoos are not a taboo to shy away from or judge people about.
“The community of tattooed people I think is growing dramatically,” said Jasen Workman, tattoo artist and owner of 314 Tattoo in St. George. “[They] have more of a relationship with other people because of tattooing … [and] that’s the community of tattooing versus the industry of it.”
It’s been a while since I’ve been asked with distaste why I have tattoos, but I still feel slightly uncomfortable walking through Target in St. George with shorts and a tank top on when I can feel others’ eyes on my tattoos. I can literally see people staring at my shoulders and legs with judgment, though probably not looking hard enough to see the majority of the tattoos are Harry Potter illustrations and literary references. If I had on pants and a sweater I would still be the same person but they wouldn’t know I have tattoos.
Deon Kennedy, a junior computer and information technology major from Chicago, said he doesn’t regret his tattoos because they have symbolism and personal meaning.
“I couldn’t describe someone who has tattoos because everyone has them nowadays, so to me there isn’t a typical type,” Kennedy said.
Workman said many of his customers are in their late 30s and 40s because they feel like it’s more socially appropriate now. I love having tattoos and I wish more people would accept them more often, although I think we’re on the right path. As a society we should appreciate the beauty in each other rather than what may have once been seen as faults.