Misjudged Art

February 19, 2013
Imagine. You’re standing in a crowded train station. You take your seat on a congested train and notice a small child pointing and staring at a burly, young man and a petite, young woman sitting a few seats down from you. Then, whom you assume to be the child’s mother notices, pulls the child behind her, and gives the couple a wary glance. So, as you examine the pair of strangers you notice they each have multiple, creative tattoos running up and down their arms. You suddenly realize why the mother turned her child away. She thought the couple looked peculiar. However, if she would have looked closer she would have noticed the younger woman was cradling a sleeping baby in her arms. Stereotyping against people with tattoos is unjust and discriminates against people for what they look like on the outside not for who they are on the inside.

Tattooing over the years has especially become a famous way for younger people to express themselves and declare their independence. For people with insecurities and doubts about their image getting a tattoo can help them feel superior and less timid about their bodies. When people get tattoos there could be a deeper meaning behind the images they choose. Some people think of getting a tattoo like painting permanent art on a blank canvass. Stereotyping against people with tattoos these days is mostly coming from either the older generations or certain religious groups. To some stereotypical people, tattoos are seen as a sign of rebellion, lack of respect for authority, or small goal standards. For what most people don’t know, is that when teenagers or younger adults get tattoos they are trying to state their own sense of maturity. Knowing that tattoos are permanent some people see it as a stamp to mark adulthood.

A lot of discrimination for tattoos comes from the work environment. When looking for a job, or even on the job, most people feel obligated to cover up their tattoos in sign of respect for the authority or are asked to cover them anyway to keep the work environment looking classier. In the Los Angeles Time’s article, “Young Workers Have Something up Their Sleeve.” Director John Beitner for Tumbleweed Day Camp in L.A. says, “A butterfly (tattoo) is not such a big deal,” but a gaudy, multi-colored scull would be. The parents that take their children there would not see that as a healthy role model for their kids. In the article, “Why Do People Get Tattoos?” An operations manager at Borders Books and Café says they actually look for tattooed employees. He says, “We look for it. It makes things more interesting and fun.” In this particular work environment tattoos are seen as creative ways to show self expression.

As more and more people get tattoos, intolerance of the art gets harder to deal with. People need to express themselves and if judged and put down on the act of trying to do so people would just stop trying. Through tattoos people can feel empowered, beautiful, unique, comfortable, individual, and accepted. By judging the people who have tattoos you are weakening those feelings of empowerment and individualism and making them feel scrutinized and distant. So the next time you see a stranger with a few tattoos don’t automatically think they must have had a rough life or they look peculiar. Try to look closer at the tattoos and notice their meaning or guess the story they try to tell, and remember there is still a person behind that story.

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