Volume 91, Issue 48

Friday, November 21, 1997

party poop


Attempting to rationalize the rash tattoo trend

©Andria Kury/Gazette
CHRW Programme director Tom Everett acquired a distinct tattoo this summer.

By Thandiwe Klass

Gazette Staff

They're everywhere. On the toned biceps of muscular workmen, the stomachs of adolescent girls and even on the chests of aging superstars.

To get them, people are willing to sacrifice their body to the stinging rhythm of a needle, repeatedly piercing their skin. The recipient must also endure blood, scabbing and numerous applications of Polysporin – all this to earn the increasingly popular distinction of being the owner of a tattoo.

The word "tattoo" originated from the Polynesian verb for knocking or striking and was meant to refer to the striking of the needle into the skin. But what is the reasoning behind this craze and where did it come from?

Anthony of Blue Dragon Tattoos says, "There are as many reasons as people who get them." Some customers do it to be cool or for fun, while others are just in "bad need of a personality." The explanation can be found among the mentality of the clients Anthony estimates are, on average, between the ages of 18 and 25 – a stage in life when one is usually still trying to find themselves.

A talk with Gorica, a medical technician in plastic and cosmetic surgery, revealed that the youthfulness of the clientele in tattoo parlors, such as at Blue Dragon, can make a decision as permanent as getting a tattoo, which can be a big mistake. The majority of her clients decided to get tattoos when they were younger and as they got older, they began to rethink their decision. The top three reasons for requests of tattoo removal are unwanted names, inappropriateness of tattoos in the corporate world and spousal pressure, she says. Gorica's clients are mostly older and more established and are at a point in their lives where they have figured out a tattoo does not fit into the type of lifestyle they want to lead.

Gorica performs most of her surgery on large tattoos, especially ones in extreme or conspicuous places. Small tattoos have become more socially acceptable over the years due to a change in how people perceive them. In the past, they were seen as a sign of rebellion, but now the whole attitude surrounding them is changing.

James Olson, a professor of social psychology at Western, says "[Tattoos] have become more of an expression of fun and identity." Although they "always will be a little unusual," he adds.

Unfortunately, those who bear the distinct markings of a tattoo will always be generally misunderstood. The unconventional nature of these markings will cause many to decipher a reasoning of their own for it. Some will be open-minded and see it as what it is for most tattoo owners – a symbol of identity. While others will condemn them as doing it to rebel against authority, mutilate their body or symbolize their toughness.

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Copyright © The Gazette 1997