Tattoos: a step towards social freedom

Aaron Stuckel
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I’ve been pondering the possibility of getting a tattoo recently. But, in doing so, I’ve had to consider the troubled history of those who’ve gone under the needle.

People have been permanently decorating their bodies longer than Christianity has been around. It was often used as a means of therapy for arthritis, or a sign of loyalty to the gods or country.

More recently, tattoos have been associated with criminals. Gangs have long used tattoos as a way to identify themselves to one another, while many convicts have tattooed themselves as a certain type of badge of honour.

It seems to me though, that ten years ago, tattoos were not as socially acceptable as they are now.

Even many professionals today now go to their daily meetings with ink up their arms.

But what has caused this change?

Well, personally I think there has been a shift in our culture that has allowed people to express themselves without fear of being judged. The constant hunt for political correctness and objectivity in the hiring process has changed the way employers react to a little bit of ink on the wrists of job-hunting hopefuls.

I asked my own employer if she would change her opinion on a prospective employee if they had tattoos. Though she said someone with facial ink would probably change her perspective (have you seen Mike Tyson lately?), she said it’s unlikely that some modest colourings would alter their chances at a job.

But something else in her answer struck me as an important factor. She said she often doesn’t see her prospective employees because so much of the hiring process is now done online.

It’s hard not to notice the affects that the advent of the Internet have had on our world. But besides the looming elimination of paper and the ease of which we can now communicate with each other, there is anonymity in the virtual world that allows people to freely express themselves. And we can do that without others judging those expressions based on physical appearance.

Somehow this attitude seems to have seeped into the physical world. Though racism and bullying are still big problems in our society, I think we as a society have moved in the right direction in the sense that more and more of us base our opinions on others on how they treat us, and not how they look.

In many ways, tattoos are the most personal form of art. They likely have some meaning to those who wear them and are their forever. They become as much part of the person as their fingers and toes.

The fact that they are more accepted socially now than ever before tells me that we can and will end bigger problems like racism and bullying.

I will most definitely be getting a tattoo, if not just to express myself, than at least to stand up and say that if you can accept my tattoo, than you can accept anyone.

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