Let’s talk about tattoos–– all seriousness and no judgment. Tattoos have been part of cultures across the world since the Neolithic Era over 4,000 years ago. Female mummies from Egypt have tattoos with religious iconography that have taught archaeologists about different beliefs held. After studying these tattoos, archaeologists believe that Egyptian women would get tattoos of different goddesses to protect them through childbirth and from sexually transmitted diseases and illnesses. Greek and Roman writers discussed different tribes of “painted people” and how tattoos were “marks of nobility” for cultures such as the Scythians and Thracians.
So what is the stigma? Those who are part of the Baby Boomer, Xennial, and Generation X mostly believe that tattoos are not classy and will limit people from getting a job. Growing up, those in the mentioned generations saw gangs and those of lower classes getting tattoos. Tattoos were used in specific groups, such as sailors, gangs, and soldiers. If men got tattoos, it showed their “badassery” while if a woman had a tattoo, it meant she was “loose” or a prostitute.
I have one tattoo and plan on getting many more. While my first tattoo was full of meaning and easy to hide due to its placement on my ribcage, I still made my parents and grandparents cry. They believe that I tainted my skin and will regret it all when I get old and wrinkly. They believe I will not get jobs because those hiring will not see me as respectable and skilled. These generational differences tend to create divides while maintaining the stigma. I struggle to hear all of this negativity when I recently accepted an internship where every interviewer on the panel had at least one visible tattoo, and they hired me without knowing about mine. After seeing their tattoos, I felt like I was in a place that I would be accepted for my decisions. They also demonstrated that my ink will not stop me from doing the things I want to do.
Millennials and Gen Z are here to change the stigmas around tattoos. 47% of United States millennials have at least one tattoo, showing that if someone does not have a tattoo, they will know someone who does. While younger generations’ fear of getting into the workforce is a heavy part of tattoo decision-making, Social media is showing that many people have tattoos, ranging from minimal finger and lip tattoos to full sleeves. Tik Tok and Instagram are starting to normalize having tattoos rather than shame them simply through influencers showing their ink with pride. Seeing people my age inspires me to get more tattoos because I have learned that if I am in a space that does not accept my tattoo, something I am proud of, that space is not for me. I will find a space and an occupation that will accept my markings for who I am rather than looking down on me and my experiences due to a tattoo.
I am ready for there to be a tattoo revolution. I am ready to hire the next generations to get meaningful and meaningless tattoos because I know that their ink and their decisions do not degrade their experiences and skills, rather they create an even better story to tell. I am here to cheer you on–– get that tattoo! I’ll come to hold your hand! I swear it does not hurt as bad as they say. Let’s start talking about ink and normalize it in our own communities because we are here to kill the stigma and celebrate every individual and the art they choose to bear.
Want some ink? Here are some recommended places in the Greencastle radius:
Castle City Tattoo, LLC - Greencastle, IN
Queen City Classic Tattoos - Terre Haute, IN
Metamorphosis Tattoo - Broad Ripple, IN
Irish Ink Tattoos and Piercings - Indianapolis, IN