Jenna Shamoon

Silhouette Staff

Tattoos, once considered a tacky part of countercultural societies, have now become a popular form of body art and self expression by all types of individuals.

There have been stigmas attached to getting a tattoo, along with stereotypes about the people who get them. But these days, the world does not seem too judgmental of getting ‘tatted’. It’s not as if you have to be part of a certain group to get a tattoo, nor does it mean that having a tattoo makes you part of a certain group. They’ve now become more commonplace than ever.

If you’re interested in getting inked, it might be interesting to know the history behind the art of tattooing.

In the 1950s, getting a tattoo probably meant two things: you either spent time in the big house or were part of a greaser gang. There was a massive stereotype around people who got tattoos and what their personal lives must have been like.

Later, into the 1960s and 1970s, tattoos became the mark of rock stars, punks and other members of American musical counterculture. But this stereotype has died out over time, as the subcultures became more integrated into pop culture, making the rebellion of the past the standard of fashion and music, particularly among young people. Even the most virtuous and non-rebellious of people are getting inked. There are more and more people getting tattoos, and some of the designs can actually be very beautiful. They can be an aspect of aesthetic pleasure rather than a mark of rebellion.

Of course, tattoos did have their own moment of lame-o-phobia. Remember the arm band tattoos of the ‘90s? That was definitely a low point in the history of tattoos. But now, tattoos have got their cool streak back. With shows like Miami, L.A., and New York Ink, tattoos have become part of popular culture, as opposed to the counterculture that they represented so many years before. Just walking down the street, people ranging from punks to preps have all kinds of tattoos, from the full sleeve to just the wrist.

There is the classic reason of why the older population believes that people, particularly young people, should not get tattoos. The biggest concern is not being able to get a job. Older generations, who are holding on to old sereotypes, still feel that if a person has tattoos, they are not employable. “They’re irresponsible”, “they do drugs”, “they are rebellious”; these are still sometimes presumptions associated with people with tattoos. But for the most part, these presumptions have pretty much dissolved into nothing, since now tattoos are viewed more as body art or a fashion statement than a gang symbol.

This stigma of what it means to have a tattoo has changed over time and has now become a normalized aspect of culture. They are more acceptable and the stereotypes surrounding them have begun to fade away. There are fewer assumptions about the people who get tattoos, and now, even your employer may have a tattoo. The culture surrounding tattoos has become more inclusive, allowing more and more people to decorate themselves with beautiful body art.

 

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