An expression culture of its own

Tattoos have been around for centuries as a way to mark the passing of an event, such as moving into adulthood, or the connection to a group. Through permanent body art, a person can express their connections to something without having to outright state it to the world.

As with most art, tattoos are often meant to be somewhat ambiguous, allowing for the reader to interpret their meanings and connections. Today, tattoos are not at uncommon as the used to be, but still have the stigma of a connection with trouble. Many people of the older generation relate tattoos to gangs, or rebellion, but what about the cultures that have been tattooing long before motorcycles or bandannas were around.

In the past, tattoos were expression, and today they remain the same. A tattoo can be a way for someone to express something about himself or herself that they may or may not want others to know all of the time. They can be placed anywhere on the body and can be covered, exposed, or placed where both options are possible.

When you see a native Maori person with a tribal tattoo, you think that it is part of their culture, but why is that association on present with in places like the US.  In the modern day and age, health care and technology have made getting tattoos a common and safe occurrence. Young people are choosing more and more to make tattoos a part of their culture, with people all over the world with one, two, three, or more tattoos on their bodies. These people could be musicians, scientists, executives, pilots, or truckers and you would never know the difference.

Everyday people talk about not judging a book by its cover. Tattoos represent the same thing. Just as someone may take a great adventure through the outdoors or travel the world to experience another culture, people are getting tattoos as a way to experience the thrill of life in an alternative way.

There are countless unique tattoos in the world today, but I recently encountered a tattoo that inspired me. This tattoo was on the back of a young man, right between his shoulder blades, and it was a plain black and white globe. I asked the man what his tattoo represented to him and he simply replied, “it represents tattoos.” Confused I asked him to elaborate on that statement. I soon came to find out that to him it represented a world of possibilities, shouldered by each person in their own time. It represented not only the world around him, but that which he has experienced through the stories told by the tattoos of those he encountered. He has seen heartbreak, hardship, and triumph. None of these stories were told to him, but were his interpretations of the markings of those around him. Through his reading, into the expression of others, he had begun to understand the world through alternative expression. This simple act had moved him to express his understanding through a simple, yet elegant representation of how he saw the world, and how he wanted to see the world.

Tattoos are diverse, elegant, rough, and smooth. They can be loud and they can be soft, but no matter what the observer sees, the wearer has something to express, and no matter who you are, you cannot argue with personal expression. So like tattoos if you would like, or prefer not to get one if you don’t want to. But everyone has a right to express himself or herself as they see fit, and tattoos are quickly growing to be a widely used form of expression.