In spite of the fact that tattoos are everywhere these days, they’ve actually been around for a long time. How did they become so popular? Tattoos have been performed since the Neolithic and by indigenous tribes for a variety of reasons, including religious ceremonies and rites of passage. Despite not knowing the exact date of the first tattoo, tattoos have been around for at least 5,000 years.
Tattooing has grown steadily and steadily thanks to social acceptance. For people who want their bodies to be canvases, the sky is the limit when it comes to the talent and ink behind today’s top tattoo artists.
Captain James Cook is credited with both the words “taboo” and “tattoo.” His sailing voyage around the world led him to Tahitian and Polynesian islands where tattooing was openly practiced. After his travels in 1769, he introduced both words to the English language by encribing them in his diary. Throughout history, tattoos have been used to describe permanent marks made by ingraining pigments or creating scars. In modern times, tattoos are called scarifications instead of tattoos.
Tattoos were not always considered taboo, despite what most people think. “When we consider this stigma, we must also remember that ‘elites’ have been tattooed for a long time.” Lane notes that in the late 1800s, there was a tattoo shop on Jermyn Street in London, the center of high-end fashion, where Winston Churchill and his mother both got tattoos (yes, really).
Body art is perceived differently in different cultures due to different dominant ideas surrounding tattooing. The stigma against tattoos in America can be attributed to a number of factors, such as the fact that tattoos were almost exclusively associated with criminals during Japan’s Edo Period. A number of factors contributed to the overarching attitude, according to Lane, including the Nazis’ use of tattoos for bureaucratic record-keeping during World War II, the Protestant Ethic, which promotes purity of the body, and the way tattooed criminals were portrayed in science and the media. Another major factor was fear of disease: “In the 1950s, the medicalization of society led to a number of tattoo bans in states and cities,” says Lane.
The Times Are Changing
It’s not surprising that tattoos have become more popular once again given their rich history. Part of the reason for this is that celebrities, athletes, and people in the fashion industry wear them. Another aspect to acknowledge is the activism and awareness-building done by the tattoo community. A number of tattooers with art degrees, such as Cliff Raven and Ed Hardy, “revamped some of the public image of tattooing in the 1960s and 1970s,” according to Lane. As a matter of fact, tattoo conventions were primarily aimed at creating a professional image.” Later, tattooers would lead the movement to legalize tattooing where it had been outlawed for decades, pushing for regulation to ensure the practice was safe once again. “[Tattooers] were asking for licenses, for a safe practice, for some oversight. They were key in getting it legalized again.”
In the 1970s, we started seeing celebrities with visible tattoos,” Lane says, citing Cher, Peter Fonda, and Janis Joplin as some of the first. “NBA players started getting tattooed on their arms, basketball players, baseball players. As a public, we can see more and more kinds of people with tattoos.”
The stereotype that everyone with them is a criminal or someone with a shady moral compass is no longer true. Design styles have expanded from traditional American tattoos to Japanese sleeves, to full body tattoos that could tempt even those most wary of the machine into getting a tattoo.
Taking a leap of faith
It’s always fun to plan your next tattoo or even your first. For some, it’s even difficult to look at a tattoo magazine without getting inspired for another design. You should have a plan after getting tattooed since they are so addictive. If you don’t, you may end up with more than you wanted, or designs you later regret.