Tattoo Art And The Negative Associations and Antisocial Behaviour

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Every one of us live within a structure of social communities. The occupation we decide, the hobbies and interests we participate in, the neighborhood in which we live to our national identity. A variety of social groups have got various tolerance or acceptance of tattoos and body modification. Some individuals who would like to have a tattoo may never simply because they have experienced what their society does to or thinks of people with tattoos. In extreme cases, they end up being an outcast, stared at, inconsiderate of or branded a freak just because of the negative tattoo associations some people and social groups have. People who have tattoos which cannot be seen are more challenging to be judged upon.

Evident class differences

In the UK currently, the negative tattoo associations can be mainly found in the vague but occasionally still evident class differences. The feeling of tattoos being for the working class can still be found especially in older generations. Other factors affect the reaction which we have to tattoos. A tattoo of a dragon up a man’s arm for example (called a ‘sleeve’) would be treated entirely differently if he were wearing a suit than if he were in very baggy jeans and a wife-beater top. In this regard, we interpret the tattoo in the context in which it is presented. The negative repercussions of having a tattoo are mainly felt in the professional industries such as banking and law rather than in public situations.

Negative tattoo associations

In the United States, negative tattoo associations include belonging to biker gangs or criminal street gangs, meaning some Americans with tattoos may be unfairly branded as troublemakers or misfits. This can lead to people with tattoos only associating with other tattooed folks, which perpetuates the negative tattoo associations within society. The old saying that when like mixes with like their communal irrationalities and false beliefs are perpetuated and reinforced can explain this phenomenon.

These associations are not always an issue. In some professions negative tattoo associations are largely ignored or don’t exist, the military and the entertainment industry being two examples. However, in the military tattoos should not be visible when in uniform and many in the entertainment industry also choose to have tattoos in largely non-visible areas. Some odd places for tattoos have been utilised by celebrities recently including the inside of the ear, side of the finger and down the side of the body.

Strength, courage and accomplishment

Depending on the level of tattooing and the sensitivity of the people around various levels of reaction can be seen. Sometimes people with tattoos may be avoided in public, even if that individual is successful in his or her career and has a perfectly gentle nature. The negative tattoo associations can be just that strong in certain communities.

In ancient societies, negative tattoo associations were non-existent. They were often the signs of strength, courage and accomplishment. However, the accomplishments commemorated with a tattoo often involved killing someone. This behaviour is now considered negative in our culture which explains the same association between tattoos and violence over time changing into a negative association. There were no anaesthetics in ancient times, so the pain of getting a tattoo was excruciating. Getting a tattoo would indicate that the wearer could tolerate lots of pain. While these connotations were in the past, they may form the basis of negative tattoo associations today.

Source of individuality and pride

In our contemporary culture, negative tattoo associations can lead to people feeling pressured to remove them so they can further their career or begin to socialize in new circles. Even modest tattoos of tranquil designs such as a small flower can be a magnet for gossip and derision in certain circumstances. People who get a tattoo may enjoy the tattoo but then become so worried about what other people will think that they always cover it up. The tattoo, once a source of individuality and pride, can now hold many negative associations when in fact it has no reference to a person or their actions at all.

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