A tattoo is a form of a mark put on the body. It is done by inserting ink which cannot wash out using needles into layers of the skin (dermis). Body piercing on the other hand is done by piercing or mutilating body parts so as to create an opening for a jewel. The two practices have been in place for quite a long time. They have been in practice by several communities in the world. To start with, we are to look at the history of tattoos and of body piercing later.
Tattoos have been reported to be practiced in the New-Stone Age by the communities of the Euro-Asia. This was evident by the discovery of Otzi – the ice man, found in the Otz valley in Alps. It was reported that it had over 50 carbon marks behind his left knee and at the right ankle.
The mummies of Egypt have been reported to have tattoos. It is reported that the mummies date back to the 2000 BC. Body piercing has been in practice for a long time as well. One disadvantage about the study of history of body piercing is that the flesh deteriorates which makes it difficult for one to make a judgment on how the ornament or jewel was used by the person. There are limited sources of history on body piercing.
The practice of tattoo and body piercing has been highly associated with those in the wrong side of the law. It has highly been associated with people such as the pirates or villains. This has negatively impacted on the image of the practice of tattoos and body piercing. We can also prove that the practice of tattoo and body piercing can also be used to explain the identity of a person or give the person’s reflections regarding his personality. ( Reybold 2001)
To give this argument a basis, we must be able to identify some of the uses of tattoos and body piercing which has given it a bad impression. From the classical times the pirates have used tattoos and body piercing to identify them. A particular gang would have a particular type of tattoo. Their tattoo would have its particular spot among all the members of the gang. This perception that tattoos especially was/is used by criminals has made the society make a conclusion that usage of tattoos and body piercing is not good.
Most of the known criminal gangs of the modern world usually have a tattoo or particular jewels on their body so as to identify with their group. They were used as a way of rebellion from the society. But, the usage of tattoos was initially used to mark inmates. Especially among the Japanese, they would mark an inmate depending on the crime that one had committed. The authorities of the classical times used crude ways to give markings to criminals. In that period, a tattoo was not a body art work but more of branding. They were used by the authorities so as to make them conspicuous to the other members of the society that they were criminals and would be an outcast to the other members of the society. ( Reybold 2001)
Continuous usage of the tattoos to brand criminals, made the practice get acquired by people who felt different from the rest of the society. People who opposed their authorities would usually wear a tattoo for branding. They would therefore be identified by other members of the society as reformists.
The usage of the tattoos was used by the outlaws. The people who were deviant from the norms of the society would wear the tattoos so as to give a reflection of what they felt about leadership and the society. Most of the people who were rebellious to the government had their group identified with a special symbol. They would have a symbol in their flag and on all their assets. This would also be followed with a tattoo on their bodies. The society labels people who seem to be deviant to the norms of the society. In the case of criminals, the hardcore criminals will wish to put a tattoo that will make him or her feel significant due to his deviant ways. The major mafia groups around the world always have a symbol which they identify with. This creates a negative impression to the society. The old generation which have viewed tattoos to be of the bad boys and girls are not really to accept this practice. ( Reybold 2001)
The tattoos were also reportedly used by the magicians in their practices. Magicians in the classical times were used in the practices of witchcraft and sorcery. The magicians have always been taken negatively by the society. In the modern times the practice of the magicians may be taken to be evil. The magicians have therefore been taken to be devil worshippers. This therefore impacts negatively to the wearing of tattoos.
In the religion of Christianity, tattoos are not approved. According to the Christians’ Bible in the book of Leviticus 19:28 “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD”. This therefore makes tattoos a sin in the Christian religion. However, most of the Christians generally disregard this verse of the bible. You will find someone with a tattoo despite him or her being a staunch Christian. (Hardin)
The association of tattoos and excessive body piercing as devil worship has made them lose their popularity especially among the Christianity.
Christians believe that bodies are temples of God and so, we should keep them holy. We should not engage in issues of body mutilation as well. According to the Muslims, they believe that the practice of tattoo is a sin. In accordance to the tradition of the Muslims, in Sahih Bukhar, it is forbidden for one to mutilate or maim somebody’s body. They state it to be ‘harram’ which means that it us forbidden for one to practice it.
The act of body piercing has also been experiencing negative publicity from the society. Piercing of the ear lobe among the males was mostly associated with the homosexuals in the years after the World War II. The culture of homosexuality has been a deviance to many societies of the world for a long time.
People did not wish to associate themselves with homosexuality as it was not in the norms of most of the societies. Until recently, the issue of homosexuality has been accepted in some societies.
The issue of tattoo and body piercing is rather a misunderstood issue. The following practices are generally done according to a person’s own reasons. Most of the people have had their tattoos for decoration purposes. People wish to have there tattoos and body piercing on because they feel that it is more decorative for them to be on a tattoo or a body piercing. To some of the young people, it is ‘cool’ and fashionable for one to have a tattoo or a body piercing. (DeMello 2007)
They therefore have their tattoos and body piercing according to their favorite part of the body. Being in a free world, one has the right to get a decoration according to his wish, however it is not good that the wearing of a tattoo or body piercing may offend or differ with once groups of religion.
A tattoo can also be used as a cosmetic. It can be used to correct some skin discoloration by either neutralizing or hiding the affected part. It is also used for medical purposes in the case of ensuring that medical instruments are placed well for repeated application of radiotherapy. (DeMello 2007)
In the classical times, the tattoos were used as a mark to represent an attainment of a certain achievement. It is reported that tattoos were drawn on warriors who had attained achievements in the army. Brave warriors were marked with tattoos so as to mark braveness among the warriors. They were also used to mark a rite of passage. Having attained a certain age, one would have a certain mark on the body.
It is reported that among the sailors, one who passed a certain part of the ocean, which had not earlier been explored before, he would have the tattoo. This was a mark of a hero. (DeMello 2007)
Tattoos and body piercing has been used for religious purposes. People have used tattoos and body piercing to mark them as members of a certain religious group. They have been used as symbols of religious as well as spiritual devotion among the diverse global societies. Everybody has a right of worship and therefore one can affiliate to any religious groups which means that one will also have to conform to the various practices and beliefs of the religion. (DeMello 2007)
Among some cultures, it is a tradition to have the body piercing. Some of the cultures have been practicing body piercing for a long time. It has been their cultural heritage to have the various body piercing. So, opposing that rich heritage would be a wrong thing altogether. It would be okay if people’s heritage be appreciated as well as being respected. (DeMello 2007)
I believe that we are in a modernization era. We are in a period of revolution, accepting the random happenings of our day-to-day lives. People have their different reasons for wearing the tattoos or body piercing. The method of application for the various practices has thoroughly improved so we should have little fear of infection, unless out of negligence. People who are therefore wearing tattoos should not be heavily carried for rebels or deviants in the society. People have every right to express their feelings if at all they are not causing any inconvenience to anybody.