What can I say about tattoos? They’re like marmite; you either love them or hate them. Personally, I love them. I have tattoos. 80% of my friends are inked and even my own sister is covered. I have no problems with tattoos (except this one) but understand that not everyone thinks like me. But is it really that big of a deal? Has this tattoo taboo gone too far?

Judging a book by its cover

On my recent trip to Australia to visit my sister, we went out one night, after which I asked the taxi driver to stop at a McDonalds (very classy of me). While I was in the restaurant, the taxi driver asked my sister if her tattoos were drawn on. She said that they were permanent. He then looked disgusted and told her that she had ruined her body. She defended herself by saying it was her choice, she loves her tattoos and it wasn’t any of his business but he wasn’t having any of it. She didn’t tell me any of this until after we had paid him and he had driven away. I was horrified. I understand that everyone is entitled to their own opinion but his behaviour was out of order, completely inappropriate and downright rude. Talk about judging a book by its cover; my tattooed sister is kind, sweet, an animal campaigner and a really wonderful human being. She is a lot more than a tattooed body.

We are much more than our ink
We are much more than our ink

The tattoo taboo

This got me to thinking about how much controversy tattoos still cause. Many companies will not hire someone who is unable to cover their ink, heads still turn in the street and you can be considered dangerous, a freak or even a criminal for your choice of design. There are numerous news stories and TV shows dictating tattoos gone wrong or people losing their jobs due to a facial tattoo. A new TV show, Tattoo Fixers, is about three tattooists fixing ink gone wrong, which has had its own share of controversy regarding ripping off designs and accusations of unhygienic conditions.

The popularity of tattoos

Tattooing is an ancient tradition. Only 50 years or so ago only sailors, cellmates and biker gang members were inked. In modern day, tattooing has developed into a huge business; I know tattoo artists who have year long waiting lists. This boom has been encouraged by celebrities getting inked and tattoo shows such as Miami/LA/NY Ink and social media is littered with people showing off their latest ink.

Cheers to tattoos
Cheers to tattoos

The great art of tattoos

I guess what I’m trying to say is the tattoo taboo may never go away. However, as inking becomes more and more popular and more and more tattooists are trained, this taboo will shrink and only a small population will hate tattoos and not be inked. They may call the rest of us sheep. I call it an expression of self. A human right. A privilege to be tattooed by a great artist. Because that’s what tattooists are (or should be), great artists, working on a great canvas, whose work will be shown to the world. They are well paid because they’re well trained and there is a high demand; their jobs are going nowhere. I am getting inked next month by a wonderful artist after waiting nearly a year for my appointment because, yes, she really is that good.

Read our guides to getting tattooed and choosing a tattoo artist.

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