tatooTattoos have long been a part of human history. They were once used to represent a tribe or group of sorts. Nowadays, tattoos are a form of art. Either way, the wearer of any kind of ink in any form does one thing for sure: express oneself. Many people, ranging from kids to adults, find a voice through tattoos. Throughout the past decade, tattoos have become much more socially acceptable.

If anyone went back to the nineties, tattoos were basically taboo. If you had one, maybe you were part of a gang or vandalized public property. Perhaps you were plotting to steal a tub of Tollhouse cookie dough from the corner store. If you had a tattoo, you were likely an adolescent ruffian. One did not simply go home and tell their mother how they got the Mona Lisa tattooed onto their biceps. These supposed mere scrawls on your skin were a desecration to the status quo.

For thousands of years, tattoos were a norm, simply a component of one’s culture. They tended to symbolize various rites of passage. In a tribe in Papua New Guinea, a new tattoo was given each year as someone got older. When a girl came to be of marrying age, she received a v-shaped tattoo around her collar bone. Some tattoos were given to warriors as a symbol of bravery.

What happened between so long ago and the last century? How did it become unacceptable to have a tattoo? In the twentieth century, people became very conservative. Walking around with art on your body was silly and frivolous. Criminals sent to jail were often already tattooed. Common tattoos were teardrops and varying numbers of dots. These were all symbols of involvement in gangs. People with two dots between their index and thumb had been convicted of crime and finished their sentence.

Tattoos today are permanent, unless you happen to have a ton of money and an undying wish to undergo tattoo removal surgery. Then they do not last long. But tattoos have come a long way in the past ten years, with advances not just in procedures, but in social acceptance. You can get your grandmother’s name tattooed somewhere and not be called out for it. There are employers who request tattoos not to be visible, but this is a mere, easy to follow, protocol in the workplace.

What a lot of people are able to do is draw what they want a tattoo artist to draw onto them. This makes tattoos pretty popular around the more artsy populations. They can draw up something simple or utterly complicated that they can then carry on their bodies forever. Tattoos are also used to represent important parts of someone’s life, relating to tribes and their tattoos for rites of passage. For example, names of passed family members or a symbol representing something important to you. Most importantly, tattoos are an ultimate art of expression. One tattoo can be worth a thousand words, many stories, and one person’s life-changing event.