The art of tattooing has created a common thread among young adults across America interested in exploring the depths of individuality.
Whether used as a need to flutter in the wings of unconfined freedom or to turn the body into a canvas for self-expression, tattoos are being used frequently and are gaining a mixed reaction from the Temple crowd.
“Tattoos are all about showing off your personality; your spunk…” said Laurel Whitman, a sophomore at Temple.
New to the game of body art, Laurel recently plastered a bleeding rose onto the side of her ankle in early September.
“I think that tattoos are especially important for younger people because it’s empowering. If you can go out to a strange place and have strange people prick you with needles, then I think you can do anything.”
With this attitude being adopted by many students, the social stigma connecting tattoos to crime and rebellion is slowly dissipating as more and more people find ways in which to deem body art acceptable.
Michael McKinney, a junior at Temple, had gotten his first tattoo during his freshman year.
Although it was a dare between him and his friends, McKinney has not regretted the decision at all.
“I got a fire burning cross on my back during spring break of my freshman year.
I had a few drinks and my friends dared me to get it, but I love it and have no regrets.” said McKinney.
“I think tattoos are all about living life to the fullest, being young, having fun, taking chances and not looking back.”
Since then, McKinney has gotten three additional tattoos, each one symbolizing important events in his life.
“I’ve gotten more tattoos, though, representing significant things that has happened to me. When my son was born, I tattooed his name on my arm with ‘Daddy Loves You.’ And as far as I’m concerned, as long as I’m living life how I see fit, nobody can persuade me that getting my tattoos were wrong.”
However, these testaments to body art represent only one side in a mass of opinions.
There are some students who consider tattoos as a form of self-defamation rather than a form of art.
As tattooing is integrated into mass culture, students such as Nicole Wilson fear that more people are getting tattoos in order to conform to a popular fad that will fade as time progresses.
“I think that a body is a temple and tattooing your body is like spray painting the Taj Mahal,” said Wilson.
“As we go from college, where tattoos were cool to have, to the professional world, where executives look down on those type of things, tattoos become unnecessary, and maybe even a set back in your career. I just think the whole concept of having a tattoo is dumb.”
Regardless of the convictions that may guide student opinions on the morality of body art, there are still certain health factors.
According to the 2000 FDA consumer report, un-sterile tattooing needles can transmit infectious diseases such as Hepatitis.
The risk of infection is the reason why blood drives and blood banks require a one-year wait between getting a tattoo and donating blood.
Allergic reactions to the tattooing pigments are rare, but can happen and are hard to get rid of because of the pigments that tattoo ink embeds in the skin.
Also, keloids–scars that grow beyond normal boundaries–can appear anytime the skin is injured or traumatized.
Tattoos and micro-pigmentation are considered a form of trauma.
The most common complication associated with tattooing, however, is dissatisfaction.
As stated in the consumer report, despite advances in laser technology, removing a tattoo can be a considerable expense and a painstaking process, usually involving several treatments over the time span of weeks or months.
The side effects can vary depending on what site is chosen to get a tattoo.
As suggested by Tony, a tattoo artist at Body Graphics Tattoo on South Street, it is important to make sure the parlor selected is clean and it is very important to see the artist’s work.
Also, rather than listen to a tattoo artist proclaim his/her work area safe, depend on gut feelings to lead you to the right place and you shouldn’t go awry.
Coryn Brown can be reached at McButtaflyz@aol.com