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Your Tattoo Questions Answered

Oct 25, 2007
In this day and age, tattoos are very common. In fact, a study done in 2006 by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology estimated that roughly one in four people between the ages of 18 and 50 have at least one tattoo, if not more.

Even with tattoos being so common, many people don't really know much about them. Tattoos are sometimes still considered odd, questionable and even taboo.

The purpose of these questions and answers is to give you information about tattoos, dispel some of the myths involving them, and help you decide if it's a good idea to get one.

1) Will having a tattoo make me cool?

While most people will laugh at this question, some people do wonder about how a tattoo will affect them socially. While many people confronted with the question would quickly answer "no", the answer is actually a little more complicated than that.

A tattoo will certainly make you more popular in some groups, but it will have no more lasting power than a cool hat or a cool jacket. Tattoos are also, obviously, a lot harder to remove than a simple jacket. Keep that in mind if you're looking at a tattoo as a "quick fix" for your social status.

2) Is getting a tattoo the same as scarification?

Not exactly. Tattooing is the process of placing ink in the skin in such a way that it leaves a permanent picture. Scarification, however, is the process of leaving scars on the human body in artistic ways.

Scarification and tattooing are both considered, body modification and both can be wonderfully artistic, just in different ways. Tattoos can be much more detailed, whereas in scarification, the body's natural healing process can make a scar design appear only temporarily in strong detail.

Both scarification and tattooing leave lasting artwork on your body, but they are not the same art form.

3) Weren't tattoos used as slave marks?

Tattoos were used to mark slaves for their owners. Hundreds of years ago, a tattoo served to denote a slave almost like a brand denoted what farm or farmer cattle or other animals belonged to. Tattoos were also used in various Asian cultures to designate tribal distinctions.

American Indians used them in similar capacities. As our culture evolved, the meaning of tattoos became less about identification as part of a tribe or property and more about personal expression.

4) Are tattoos permanent?

Tattoos are permanent, but they are prone to fading. The tattoo will change shape should your skin change shape, such as in instances of gaining or losing weight. Tattoos that fade can be touched up to have their color brightened, while tattoos that have stretched out are often considered a lost cause.

Should you find a way to move your body back to its original shape, such as by losing weight, tattoos can be re-touched. Should that not be an option, you can always have another tattoo placed over it, although it will have to have a similar design.

5) How can I convince my parents/friends/wife/husband to get a tattoo?

Convincing someone about tattooing is along the same lines as convincing someone to do anything else; customarily, it's not a good idea. Instead, have a rational conversation with the person about getting a tattoo, present your viewpoint and ensure that the end decision is left up to them entirely.

The best way to converse about tattooing is to be honest about your own feelings and allow them to be honest about theirs. You cannot force anyone to make such a decision, regardless of how you feel about it personally.
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