To Tattoo, or Too Taboo?

Accessories are an essential part of anyone’s wardrobe because they complete your look. One could use the well known cliché, and say: they are the “cherry on top” of your outfit. But what happens when your accessories are no longer something you put on and remove, but are a permanent part of your body? No, I’m not talking about braces. I’m talking about the new fad of making tattoos your accessories. What was once considered a symbol of rebellion or a stamp utilized to indicate membership of a group, band, or Harley Davidson motorcycle gang has now become the exact opposite. Tattoos have now become either a way to differentiate yourself from the rest of the world, or simply an accessory you choose to wear as you would wear a handbag.

In America about 35% of adults have some sort of ink on their bodies. Some are quotes that inspire them, or symbols that point out their individuality or remind them of obstacles they have overcome: “Memories are always distorted in your head” says Emerson College Senior Julia Libani, who currently has 12 tattoos. “But if you get a tattoo you will always remember exactly what happened and why that event was so significant in your life.” She says she sees her tattoos as scars; just like you fall down and get a permanent scratch on your body, a tattoo is a scar you choose.

However there’s a new phenomenon occurring among celebrities and common citizens as well: getting tattoos that hold no meaning to them and serve strictly as a decorative element on their bodies. A good example of this would be Rihanna, who says she got the famous star tattoo in her neck bone and upper back to take advantage or her backside, attracting more attention to it by decorating it. Like her, there are tons of people who get little details to emphasize the parts of their bodies they love. Others just get symbols they feel would “look cool” on their bodies.

But how much is too much? When one sees celebrities like David Beckham or Meghan Fox with so many tattoos, one may think they see their bodies as little coloring books in which they draw tattoos according to their moods. However, most people who have a significant amount of tattoos claim that they see their bodies as timelines to draw their autobiography on. A detail that people tend to overlook is that once you start drawing things on your body, you may start coming across more and more things you would like to put on, that hold significant meaning for you or that would simply be a nice conversation piece.

It would be an over generalization to say that people no longer get tattoos that have meaning to them. The fact is that because tattoos have become more socially acceptable, they have also become more mainstream. The best example of this, is that fashion magazines no longer feel the need to airbrush models who don’t have ink-free skin. Also, people are not as quick to judge a person because of the fact that they have tattoos anymore. It used to be that you wouldn’t even bother to get to know a person with a tattoo because you would immediately catalogue him or her as bad news, whereas now most people just perceive tattoos as a form of expression.

But as all trends come and go, I can’t help but wonder what will happen when tattoos aren’t “stylish” anymore? Or when their owners decide that they don’t hold the same ideals they did when they decided to get them? This happened to another Emerson Student who wishes to remain anonymous. She got a tattoo when she was 14-years-old and grew bored of it, so in order to get rid of it she got another- even bigger- one on top of it to cover it. She says she didn’t even know what she was going to get and asked her tattoo artist to just give her whatever his favorite thing to draw was. This made her tattoo go from something meaningful to a simple drawing in her body she got just to go with the flow. Yes, there are ways to correct tattoos that are not wanted anymore and now there are even several different removal methods. However, this defeats the purpose of getting a “permanent” symbol on your body to express your individualism, doesn’t it?

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