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Art or tramp stamp?

blog by The Canisius Griffin  • 

I’m not about to go all “Kat Von D” on everyone, but I think tattoos are awesome. Ask my grandma though and she’d curse a lot and say you’re white trash, defacing God’s gift. Oh well Grams, tattoos are not only gaining more attention, but society is much more accepting now. The stereotyped “rebels” are not the only ones sporting this radical branding anymore.

Thirty-six percent of Americans ages 25-29 have at least one tattoo, and of the tattooed American population only about 15 percent feel any regret. Regret is the classic argument against tattoos – “Just wait until you’re 50 or 60, that won’t look so cute then,” or “What happens when you get pregnant and that rose on your hip turns into a long-stemmed rose?” and then my personal favorite, “the tramp stamp.” Real original. When we age we get less attractive anyways; why not have something permanent to remind us of our youth? Tattooing is clearly becoming more common. Maybe people are finally taking it more seriously as a meaningful art form.

Then we get to the issue of professionalism. Unfortunately, you still cannot walk into a professional job interview with a full sleeve and expect to not be judged.  Judging is one of America’s favorite pastimes, we do it without even thinking. What frustrates me are the stereotypes cast on members of society with tattoos. Not all of us are punk rockers, skinheads or hipsters. Also, to all of those with tattoos, considering you’re permanently scarring your body with visible ink, you should be well aware of the judgmental looks you may run into. No need to get upset, you chose to get inked, you knew it’d cause people to stare.

Recently, a University at Buffalo student took an opposing position on tattoos in an opinion piece published in The Spectrum. The article quickly went viral, generating hundreds of comments. The student stated that she received almost 1,000 hate emails. People wanted her suspended, degrading posters were hung and blogs upon blogs re-posted her article. Jeez Louise, share your opinion on tattoos and you better sleep with one eye open. Everyone has their own opinion and this student is entitled to her own, but her theory on tattoos was under-researched and ambiguous and I understand why so many people took offense to it. Different wording could have helped. She stated, “Invest your time, money and effort into a gym membership, or yoga classes, or new clothes, or experimenting with different hairstyles if you’re craving something new with your body, not a tattoo.” These routine activities are the farthest substitutes for getting a tattoo.  Last time I checked, tattoos didn’t grow out in a few weeks or weren’t comparable to losing that aggravating muffin top. This student clearly missed the mark when she expressed her hatred.

I’ve forgiven and forgotten, knowing that her opinion changes nothing, but many people are still enraged. In my opinion, who cares? People get tattoos for personal reasons or as an expression of an art form. All art is judged, so why is this any different? In getting a visible tattoo you’ve already stated you don’t care what other’s think. It’s difficult to not take offense; I’ll be the first to admit that.

I’d be a liar if I said I truly didn’t care what people thought. I have a small tattoo on my ribs (and what do you know, I’m not a rocker chick). Last year, a fellow classmate gave a pro-tattoos presentation in class. I was into it until they stated that my tattoo of choice was “cliché/trashy” –ouch. I definitely drew some blood from biting my tongue. After the face-punching thoughts subsided, I remembered my reasons for getting my tattoo and realized that this stranger’s opinion, while it stung a little, meant nothing.

Tattoos are an expression of art that’s different from any other. The artists are insanely talented and their work is displayed on almost half of our population. Hopefully all the tattoo haters will one day appreciate them as art. Until then we’ll deal with the nay-sayers, like the author of the article from UB. Except let’s hope no one gets kicked out of school or called awful, degrading names for merely stating an opinion, despite its offensiveness.

By Bridget Schaefer

TAGGED: bridget schaefer, canisius college, canisius griffins, tattoo moralilty, tattoos, university at buffalo

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