The first tattoos recorded in history date back to the 5th century B.C., In Greece, prisoners had to be tattooed in an attempt to “brand” them as unfit for society. Hundreds of years later, tattooing was carried over into religion in places like Egypt and Syria. Some of the highest priests and lowest of criminals have had their bodies marked to tell society who they are and their role in the world. Decorative tattoos were and still are frowned upon by the general population. Heavily tattooed individuals evade a corporate lifestyle by settling for individuality.
The sight of certain tattoos can trigger people to believe they need to brace themselves for whatever trouble the bearer of ink will cause. As a proud wearer of tattoos, I can attest that the worldview of tattooing and the culture that we as a community have built up for it spans further than crime and religion.
Tattooing has become a way to express individuality, oppression, grief, infatuation, any emotions weighing you down upon entering the tattoo shop. The art of tattooing came to be a therapeutic channel for broken people to wear their ink badges honorably. Many of us need a stern reminder of what we have been through—an artistic reminder of strength and perseverance or an ode to love lost.
A tattoo, to an outsider, may seem like an obstruction towards becoming a decent and respectable human being. However, to the community, getting a tattoo is a right of passage. Before any backstory or explanation for each piece, a tattoo states, “I am brave. I am bold. My life is beautiful.” to the world. With that being said, the next time you feel intimidated by a tattooed individual, ask yourself if you dare to wear your life on your skin.