Tattoo/ Taboo

A story as old as time?

Are Tattoo’s still considered Taboo?

I have to start this piece by saying that I ‘am a huge fan of Tattoo’s as a form of individual expression and as an artform.

Yesterday I was watching a documentary from 40 years ago about Tattooing becoming more popular and accepted in culture.

It struck me that with this particular form of self expression the story just repeats itself.

Tattooing comes into and out of fashion, styles of Tattoo come and go, but one thing remains the same.

It’s the one form of self expression that remains Taboo.

Where does the Taboo come from???

Self expression has been around as long as we have, in the early days this self expression was often markings such as piercing’s, tattoo’s or scaring even that firstly marked out the tribe and then specific roles within the tribe.

As we started to live together in towns and cities and those tribes broke up in Western and some Asian cultures, the need for that self expression to identify ourselves went away.

The desire however for some people to be tattooed did not.

As society changed and we moved to what are the more modern religions followed today, modification of our bodies was seen as a sin and therefore moved out of popular culture.

Then as now Tattooing was practicised by sailors.

During the 15th, 16th, 17th Centuries and the so called golden age of piracy, tattoo’s gained further notoriety as something that identified pirates and so of course that social stigma of the tattoo got stronger.

In Japan they were even illegal for the best part of 150 years.

The outlook today???

During the last 20 years, this form of self expression has been going through a revival, after falling out of popularity in the 90’s.

Styles are changing as they always do and the scene seems to be going from big art works like full arm ‘sleeves’ to smaller and more visible tattoo’s, but its still here and it doesnt look like going away anytime soon.

There is also a growing trend in people getting their first tattoos in their later years as something that they tick off their ‘bucket list’.

At work those with tattoo’s are also gaining more acceptance, and they are no longer a career blocker, although large visible tattoo’s are still frowned upon.

What does the future hold???

Will the taboo around art work proudly displayed on skin ever go away?

Probably not, its such an ingrained part of thinking throughout society that there will always remain some reservations about tattooing and therefore those who are tattooed.

What is for sure though, is that neither the culture of self expression in humans that leads us to getting tattooed nor the cultural taboo’s that surround this very personal art work are going away any time soon…


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