For a pirate, X marks the spot where treasure is buried. For some adults, a tattoo marks the spot where their treasure (i.e., money from their pocket) has been buried in their skin. I personally would prefer to keep my treasure in my pocket; tattoos are not my cup of tea, and I don’t plan to get one. That doesn’t mean that tattoos don’t pique my interest.
Just what is a tattoo? The dictionary definition informs us that a tattoo is an indelible (translate PERMANENT) mark or figure affixed on the body by inserting pigment under the skin. Um, that means that something sharp has to poke through your skin to get the pigment underneath it. Yes, needles are involved. I find it highly amusing that my daughter, the one who was deathly afraid of shots as a child, now has a couple of tattoos. This means that she actually had to pay someone to stick that needle in her as opposed to me bribing her to get a shot by promising ice cream to her if she allowed herself to be a human pin cushion.
The word “tattoo” comes from the Polynesian word “tautau” meaning “to write.” Actually, a tattoo makes me think more of someone drawing on skin than writing. People tell their kids to draw inside the lines and not to draw on the walls, but yet they go out and plunk down money to have someone draw on their bodies? If there’s an oops on your wall, you get out the heavy duty cleaner and remove the unwanted coloring. It’s not quite so easy if there’s drawing on your body in the form of a tattoo. Yup. You are basically stuck with it unless you want to undergo what I understand is a painful and expensive removal procedure.
Tattoos are not some modern day trend–no siree. Mummified remains thousands of years old bear evidence of tattoos. I am not sure if scientists have determined exactly what the tattoos depicted. Perhaps dinosaurs? Sailors apparently brought the concept of tattoos back to the U.S. after jaunts to foreign ports in the South Pacific. No need to send postcards back home when you can just get a tattoo and show it off to your friends and family upon your return home.
And tattoos in the past had some utilitarian purposes. Let’s say you are a sailor lost in a shipwreck. After floating around in the water for awhile before being discovered, your face may no longer be recognizable. But your remains are more easily identified if you have a tattoo personal to you. And tattoos came in handy for literally marking prisoners of war. The POW’s might escape, but they could not escape the telltale marks indelibly placed on their bodies which would give them away.
Tattoos are often found on service members. An early professional tattoo artist exemplified neutrality and non-discrimination when working with the military. He would travel from military camp to military camp during the U.S. Civil War to ply his trade. He serviced both sides.
Surprisingly to me, tattoos are pretty mainstream and are found beyond simply being on the bodies of military members. A recent Harris Poll reported that 39% of adults in the U.S. have a tattoo. That’s over 1/3 of the country’s population. Among Millenials the percentage rises to 47%, i.e., almost half that group.
Just what motivates people to get tattoos? A tattoo may be obtained to honor someone who is loved (such as a girlfriend) or who has been lost (such as a deceased friend/family member). A tattoo may be a form of self-expression indicating what things a person likes or perhaps even what his religious views are. A tattoo, sadly, is sometimes merely the result of a drunken impulse or of peer pressure. Whatever the reason may be, it is a personal decision.
In my case, I have no need for any artificial tattoos because my body is already covered in tattoos. They are natural indelible marks which make me the unique person I am. God provided me with a pre-tattooed body–I have a sleeve of freckles on each arm. You can decide whether to tattoo you, but for me, I’m good with my natural state.