Biased against body art

By Kelsey Kastrava
March 7, 2010

Body art has been a custom over many centuries. People mark their bodies with tattoos for all sorts of reasons such as a: self expression, memorial, sign of commitment to another person or simply to mark a phase a person is going through. However, it hasn’t been until recent decades that tattoos have become more mainstream, more accepted.

People with tattoos are commonly stereotyped as people who ride motorcycles, convicts, as Satan-worshipers or as unapproachable people. As the world continues to spin, so do people’s perspectives and the future generation of young adults are beginning to expand their outlook on tattooed people.

My experience with those whose body art covers most of their body has not been so much off putting as it has been interesting. More often than not, I find them to be very nice people and always unbiased.

I don’t don any tattoos myself. However I’m in a relationship with someone who has a full “rib piece,” “chest piece,” and a famous tattoo artist’s signature tattooed to his inner arm. It may seem to those who are more close-minded that he is the rebellious type or not as straight-laced as the next person because of his body art. People often associate tattoos with drugs or other substance abuse problems. All connotations are negative.

I have, however, talked with many tattoo artists on separate occasions, as well as, with people who just have tattoos and their values have always been similar to that of mine, a non-tatted individual.

Another way tattoos have become more mainstream is TLC’s television series “L.A. Ink.” Kat Von D, a famous tattoo artist, has cameras follow her and her employees around her tattoo shop as they tattoo clients and share their stories of the art work they ink people’s bodies.

People from surfers to doctors come into the shop to permanently mark their bodies with either deeply meaningful tattoos, or just silly spur-of-the-moment markings. This show is a great example of people who break the mold of the typecast tattooed person and shows the average American wanting to step outside of their conservative lifestyle to express themselves through body art.

Those who have tattoos all over their body are often denied the right to work in a more corporate setting. I disagree with this simply because it’s prejudice. We are not to discriminate against skin color, and I believe that that should go for a rainbow canvas from head to toe as well.

The world is loosening up more each day and eventually many people will be tattooed. These people do not want to limit themselves to just be tattoo artists. They should be able to work wherever they want, no matter how many permanent art pieces are on their body.

I see their tattoos similar to that of someone who is obsessed with accessorizing. Their skin is what expresses their style, and even deeper their interests, memories or maybe even people they love. As for those who are more conservative and claim these people to be offensive they may very well have tons of inspirational quotes all over their body or perhaps scriptures from the Bible.

Further people become branded with names such as a freak. In today’s world, it is mostly older generations who feel this way because they were raised in a time when rarely anyone had a tattoo and if so, it was a small decoration to their bicep.  It’s hard to change the mind of someone has had that opinion for so long.

What I find even more interesting about the tattooed individuals I have encountered is that they expect people to gawk, but since they are confident enough to draw all of that attention to themselves with the body art, they are confident enough to set the record straight on the perception of people with tattoos.

I anticipate the burden of misconception toward those who bare tattoos is lessened as time goes on. It is all a matter of getting to know someone, just like any other circumstance with narrow-mindedness. I can bet more likely than not, you will be surprised how much you will like the person you meet who dons body art all over his or her personal canvas.

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Kelsey Kastrava

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