Tattoo taboo


Photo by: Rhiannan Ruef

An anonymous student showcasing her tattoo.

A certain taboo continues to exist regarding tattoos, though it is perfectly legal for anyone over 18 to have one. In fact, several Scorpions can be seen around campus with inked arms, ankles, and backs.

While a prejudice against tattoos definitely still exists, they have started to become more accepted in the past three years. According to a poll by Fox News, only 32 percent of people endorsed tattoos in 2014. However, even then, 73 percent of the same voters held that they would hire someone with visible tattoos. Even in professional occupations, the code against tattoos is beginning to fade.

Many would agree that tattoos, when done well, can be an emblem of creativity and can even be deemed as an art form. This argument has been stimulating the fight for tattoos in the workplace. What was once judged as a symbol of the mafia or prison members is now simply another medium for aesthetic expression. A poll conducted by NBC News and Wall Street Journal said that 40 percent of the respondents had someone in their household with at least one tattoo. Additionally, the current ongoing Stinger poll reported that over 64 percent of voters are open to the idea of getting tattoos in the future.

“I like tattoos. They are an outward expression of who I am on the inside,” said a Cam High student, who chose to stay anonymous due to the current legal status of tattoos in California. California is among the 17 states that prohibit the tattooing of minors. Here, if a tattoo parlor is caught tattooing a minor, it is considered a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, and any other conditions of probation that a judge may deem appropriate.

Great steps have been made in the overall acceptance of tattoos, yet having a tattoo in some places is still seen as being “rebellious” or “punk.” Even in movies, heavily tattooed characters are often labelled as goth, or mean and standoffish, and are often depicted as “the bad guy.” Why can’t the good guy have a tattoo sleeve?

Thankfully, real-world organizations are working to change this stigma. The Bikers Against Child Abuse are motorcycle riders who ride from city to city and help abused children, and are known for being “long-haired and tattooed, leather-clad, and tough,” according to an article by The Huffington Post. Heroes, as well as villains, can be covered in ink.

Conservative professions, such as those within the medical field or large corporations, are still known for viewing those with visible tattoos unfavorably. But not all tattoos are of the dark and pronounced variety. White tattoos are also growing in popularity. These types of tattoos are made using white ink that glows under a black light and look like scars once healed, and therefore are more discreet and can be placed on open parts of the body.

Buzzfeed, a popular social media network, published a recent article about older people with tattoos that disputes the common notion that tattoos look worse with age. “I think that if you see some kind of art – or any kind of symbol that you like – and if you want it on you, then that’s okay,” said the aforementioned student. “Tattoos just express who you are.”

No matter the reason why, a tattoo is something that will stay on your body for the rest of your life. One should be confident in his or her decision to get a tattoo, and wear them with pride. It is time for the world to stop describing tattoos as  “taboo,” “punk,” and “unprofessional,” but rather as a memento of someone’s passions, individuality, memories, and inner beauty, just as all art is.