Tattoos in the 21st Century
Tattoos are a form of body modification. They are body art, and are used for self-expression, remembrance, affiliation, or simply just to be covered in art. Where one individual might get a small tattoo of the name of a lost family member on his wrist, someone else might get a giant Koi fish on their arm, simply because they like it. And that's the beauty in tattoos; they are extremely personal. Whatever you want to convey to anyone, you can, or if you get it for yourself to look at and remember, you can do that as well. A tattoo becomes a part of you in more than one way. They become an expression of who you are, yet they just might come to define you completely.
The word tattoo originates from Samoan 'tatau', which is "to hit or strike", and even "to reach a conclusion". This is due to the fact that original Samoan tattoos were done with a tapping or striking tool that was used to tap the ink into the body.
The first electric tattoo machine wasn't invented until 1876, by Thomas Alva Edison. It was originally intended as a use for duplicating documents, but in 1891 Samuel O'Reilly transformed it into a body modifying device that could introduce the ink into the skin.
Nowadays, tattoo machines are a two-coiled, metal wonder that has exploded into almost a house-hold term.
However, this is not necessarily a good thing. The youth of today have a plethora of idols, false or undeserving of their attention and praise that are more often than not covered in tattoos, and although that may be just fine for the proposed idol, it sends an image to the youth that the appearance of the celebrity, musician, or otherwise famous individual, is accepted, and that he/or she that idolizes this person can too have the same appearance.
This is simply not the case.
Take for example, Lil Wayne. He has often times been depicted as the most famous musician of the generation, and he is tattooed from head to toe. Literally. Wayne has his face to his hands tattooed, his entire body, and as I'm sure, plenty more we can't see while he's clothed. This one musician, this single icon of fame and success, has almost surely caused his fair share of people to act and dress and look the way he does. He is influential, and the tattoos are too. A young adult between 18 to 24 needs to be concerned with keeping a steady job, paying their bills, and going to school. Not getting visible, job-limiting tattoos. And closer to the 24 age, more than likely the bills include children. In this 21st century democracy, we indeed have the right to look and dress and present our bodies and personalities any way we please, however that does not mean we should. Having the ability or privilege to do something is not alone reason enough to actually do it, and unfortunately this mindset is not present when a 21 year old gets his neck tattooed.
The modern generation has a fear of being anonymous. Advertisements and media have a marketing technique that is used to make the consumer feel as though they too can have the same lifestyle, possessions and appearance as their beloved celebrities, if they buy their product. Tattoos fall into this category simply because having a lot of visible tattoos in the 21st century makes you stand out, which no longer makes you anonymous, which in turn makes the tattooed individual feel somewhat more famous or known than they previously were. This gives them a feeling of superiority or importance, and in all honesty a feeling of "cool", when others see how many tattoos they have.
The 21st century generation also has a "here and right now" complex, that demands everything they want in life to be given in that moment. Everything is instant. With that comes the expectation that if they want tattoos, and visible ones, they should be allowed to have them right now, and no one can say anything about it. That may be true, and they have the right to do so, however with the selfish attitude that is the "here and right now" complex, they generally don't think about what happens when the here and now is over. Simply having the things successful people have, or looking like you might be famous, does not improve ones standard of living. And visible tattoos that are unable to be covered up, or difficult to do so that require further clothing, in the 21st century, will hinder the chances that your standard of living will be anything close to what you would like it to be, and even more so for your children and future generations bearing your name.
I do not mean to say that tattoos are a completely bad choice. I myself have 8. Some are fairly large and cover the majority of a part of my body. They are however, in places that normal, casual clothing will cover, so that I have to wear even less formal clothing than that to show them. They can show however, but my point is, only when I choose to let them show. I choose to define my tattoos, not let them define me.
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