Tattoos & Piercings—Fashion or Faux Pas?

By Abrahim Harb

In the article by Andres Martin “on Teenagers and Tattoos,” Martin discusses the many reasons why teenagers get tattoos and piercings. The topics he discusses are exactly why teenagers get piercings and tattoos, and even some adults get tattoos. He seems to hit every point straight on the head not and not missing a beat. This spoke to me because, although I had always been intrigued by getting my own tattoo, I never realized how desperate I was too fit in with everyone else and I was doing this without even knowing! He briefly talks about the issue that arises when parents and the teens disagree when going to get a tattoo or piercing, whether they are opposed to it in general or do not like where the tattoo or piercing is placed. Although to a certain extent the parents can take charge of this mutilation of the body as some people refer to it, after the age of eighteen we can “do as we please”, knowing that when we mess up our parents will either be there to hold us as we cry or say “I told you so”. Even if most parents see this as a plea for attention, the teens feel it will “personalize their body, making it a true home and fit temple for the spirit that dwells inside it.” As Michelle Delio author of Tattoo: The Exotic Art of Skin Decoration. I agree with what Delio said because your body is like a home and if you don’t feel comfortable in it, you will feel weird all your life; it’s like living in a house and not painting the walls, and not hanging photos on the walls.

Martin also considers that another reason for teens to get piercings and tattoos is self discovery, marking their body’s with them can be their way of finding their identity; having the mentality if I have piercings and/or tattoos all over my body I can be known as “the one with the tattoos/ piercings everywhere” rather than “oh, he is that singer” or “he is the one that is good with writing” or some other thing that is seen in a positive light. Although this may be the case in some teenagers, I never saw the need to fit in when I was teenager. I was never the outcast, nor was I the popular one, I seemed to drum to my own beat; and although I would see many of my friends getting tattoos or piercings I never felt the need to get any. You would think that the peer pressure would mount so high and I would give in, but it never seemed to bother me—and yes, I will admit I wanted to get my tongue pierced, it wasn’t because I truly wanted it I just wanted to feel it in my mouth and play with it using my tongue; and I also wanted to get a tattoo, but I knew it wasn’t for the sake of it, knew it had to have meaning and thought behind it after all it is going to be on my body forever! So in a way, I melted under the peer pressure in the sense that I in depth though about getting it, even though it was for the wrong reasons.

Martin also mentions that tattoos tell stories of crime and passion, punishment and regret; they may also include words, and imagery of religious aspects of a person’s life. Most teenagers and adults alike get tattoos to memorialize a person, thing, or aspect in their life; whether it is through a mash up of several ideas, a phrase or even a portrait of a person. When I decided I wanted to get a tattoo, but wanted it to have deep meaning, I couldn’t decide on what to get all I knew was it had to acknowledge my love of music, so I put the idea on the side for a while and figured that it would come to me. Then about a few years later I got a job at a grocery store (it is 3 years later and I currently work there) and it all fell into place; I would get a tattoo of barcode-but the numbers at the bottom of the barcode would be my birthday filled in with zeros in between. To the naked eye it would look like a regular, cliché barcode tattoo, but after further explanation it would reveal my past, and in a creative way. My reasoning too back this up goes as follows: when you go to a crockery store and get a bag of Lays regular potato chips it would show on your receipt “Lays Chips….$0.99” if you were to symbolically scan my barcode my history would show up. In the end the finished product comes out to be a barcode with the numbers on the barcode being my birthday and a flow of musical notes coming out of the right side of the tattoo and would spell out “Abe” in some way out of musical notes (but I still have not gotten the tattoo).

After explaining this I would hope that you will get a small glimpse of how the tattooing thought process goes, and as for piercings I believe that is your own prerogative. You can pierce what you want, because everyone’s perception of beauty is different. As Kathlyn Gay says about body markings “Today, people with tattoos, body piercings, and brands are everywhere. They are shown in advertisements, on television shows, and in magazine and newspaper photographs. Even a glamorous toy icon, Barbie, comes with temporary tattoos.”

In my eyes, tattoos are the biggest and yet, most expensive forms of self expression. You reveal anything from which one of their family members has died, when their birthday is, or even who they love from looking at a person’s tattoos. While some put much thought into tattoos and give them much meaning as I do, others see it like a diary and tattoo their bodies at every milestone of their life; so in essence they are a walking story about themselves.