Every parent dreads the day that their precious 18 year old walks through the door with a painfully obvious tattoo, but what deeper issues does this disdain present before us? As a culture, our society has cultivated an environment where tattoos are regarded as unprofessional and senseless. With some though there is the opinion that tattoos represent a sort of self expression and establishment of identity. Even more so, tattoos signify personal ideologies and religious affiliations.They often hold much deeper meanings than what the eye can gather from the superficial ink.

Interestingly enough, the Victorian 19th century society became increasingly more engrossed with the idea of tattooing, so much so it morphed into a mark of some of the most elite. Aristocrats were very drawn to this trend, for it had become popular among young kings and notable rulers. They would request elaborate tattoos to demonstrate their own nobility. It is ironic that a form of expression that once marked the skins of royalty has turned into a commonly frowned upon testimony of bad decisions. This cultural shift has allowed for prejudice to seep into both personal and professional relationships, affecting the workplace and even public places.

Besides an objection to the tattoo itself, often the issue of permanence is brought up, and the weight a decision like it carries. Admittedly it can be difficult to discern when permanently changing something about your body is appropriate. Tattooing an image onto your skin is a big decision. Many parents, though, argue that their children are not ready to make such weighty decisions at their age. In the past, though, decisions that would often set the course of an individual’s life were made early on in a person’s life. When compared with the idea of tattooing, there is obviously a difference in how drastic decisions can ultimately be. The issue of permanence is one each person should consider deeply, but it isn’t something that should hinder the actual practice of tattooing.

Ultimately, tattooing is an individual’s choice that should in no way affect how a person is viewed in the workplace or in public. Of course, there are the few overwhelmingly rudimentary and crude depictions, but more common is simple, reasonably sized art that holds a deeper, dearer meaning to the wearer. Tattoos are something that, to the youth of America, is normal. As the years progress the opinion of tattoos will become increasingly more positive. This shift will become a reflection of a new culture, a culture where self expression and creativity are accepted wholeheartedly.

So, what’s the big deal about tattoos? Well, it really is not too horribly controversial when compared to other topics in the news. What the topic of tattooing allows teens is the opportunity to practice self expression, whether that is through actually getting a tattoo or simply voicing an opinion. As we get older, we are going to have to learn to defend our own beliefs, and beginning with speaking up about seemingly arbitrary topics builds the sort of confidence we all are going to need as we step out into the world. Tattoos give all of us the chance to say what we think, and hopefully, if we are lucky, teach us the skills we are going to need to change the world.

Photo Credits: @BaaByy04

Written by

Hannah Van Essen

Hannah Van Essen, junior, loves reading and writing. She is particularly excited to further her own creative writing skills this year. Hannah’s favorite piece of literature is the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. She is currently the Assistant Director of OLu’s King Author and anticipating a fantastic premiere.