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Mallorie Garvey
Mrs. DeBock
English 4
7 April 2016

The History of Tattoos and Piercings and How they affect Modern Society.
To take advantage of the opportunity to physically modify into the individual one desires
to be is in the liking of many, considering the increasing amount of individuals getting tattoos
and piercings. In ancient history, it was a practice discovered by various cultures, converting in
time from an ancient practice to a modern practice. In 500 B.C, the Japanese had tattooed
themselves for religious, decorative or reasons pertaining to enhancing their beauty. Tattoos had
also became fashionable and trendy among those who had the status of royalty in England. It
also eventually became a practice of motorcyclists, sailors, and gang members, and with time,
the style in which tattooing was done changed too. “Once the province of sailors, criminals and
the Maori, Western counterculture has embraced the custom and brought it up to date. In the last
generation, breakthroughs in technology have changed the possibilities of inking, introducing
liquid crystal designs that are animated, glow-in-the-dark images visible only under a blacklight,
and ink that can be erased by electromagnetic rays” (Genis 56). In today’s modern society, it has
become a mainstream practice for individuals with tattoos and piercings to enhance their
appearance, gain more control of their bodies, and express their individuality.
There are various styles in which tattooing was done before modern time, as compared to
now, tattoo machines are built for the use of licensed professional tattoo artists. With primitive,
handmade tattoos, in the Western world, what used to be a very common technique was known
as “stick and poke”. Typically, stick and poke tattoos are done by hand and are done by tattoo

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needles rather than a sewing needle so the ink can be held by the needle and embed itself into the
dermis, which is the second layer of skin in which tattoo ink lies. Tattooing is a form of
decorating the skin which has multiple methods that enable the insertion of colored substances
under the first layer of skin. The skin is typically punctured with an electric needle, which is a
sharp instrument.
The modern form of tattooing that exists is known as and referred to as the tattoo gun, or
the tattoo machine. This modern form of tattooing has significantly affected the modern world in
various ways. Among young adults 18 to 25 years old, 19 to 23 percent of them have tattoos, and
33 percent of young adults have at least one body piercing. The increasing popularity of tattoos
and piercings has also caused businesses and employers to question the allowance of both tattoos
and piercings in the workplace, which is restraining individuality in some individuals who live
paycheck to paycheck, have a low socioeconomic status, and already have visible tattoos and
piercings. More employers are reviewing their workplace standards relating to appearance as
tattoos and piercings become more common. The positive side to the increasing popularity in
tattoos and piercings is how more lenient society as a whole is to them and how gradually,
individuals are becoming more accepting of them. “ Originally associated with rituals and sacred
rites, for some, tattoos have become increasingly fashionable, with this trend largely driven by
mediated diffusion channels” (Walzer, 69). As seen in this excerpt, tattoos and piercings not only
have made a significant impact on modern society, but also have a profusion of historical
references behind them. In today’s modern society, it has become a mainstream practice for
individuals with tattoos and piercings to enhance their appearance, gain more control of their
bodies, and express their individuality.

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Works Cited
Armstrong, Myrna L. "Tattooing, Body Piercing, and Permanent Cosmetics: A Historical and
Current View of State Regulations, with Continuing Concerns." HCS Smart Search. Journal of
Environmental Health;Apr2005, Vol. 67 Issue 8, P38. Web. 12 Apr. 2016.
Graves, Bonnie. Tattooing and Body Piercing (Perspectives on Physical Health
Capstone, 2000. Print.

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Genis, Daniel. "Permanent Irony." HCS Smart Search. Newsweek Global, 31 Oct. 2014. Web. 12
Apr. 2016.
"Tattooing 2015." HCS Smart Search. Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia, 2015. Web.
12 Apr. 2016.
"Workplace Dress, Grooming Codes May Raise Legal Issues." HCS Smart Search. HR
Magazine, 1 Nov. 2012. Web. 12 Apr. 2016.
Walzer, Alejandra. "Media and Contemporary Tattoo." HCS Smart Search.
Communication & Society, 1 Jan. 2016. Web. 12 Apr. 2016.