Monday, July 30, 2012

Tattoos

Remember how we talked about all of the fabulous Facebook picture posts that multiply and replenish our news feeds?  Well, a new type of post has popped up and I wanted to take a moment to discuss it.  The topic of these new posts is... you guessed it... tattoos.

Here's a sample of what I'm talking about:


This picture has appeared a few times with various quotes along the lines of "this 'thug' could save your life."  To read more about the origin of this picture, read this blog post.


Other picture quotes that I've seen have comments along the lines of "some people hang their art on their wall; we wear ours!" or "don't judge me."

The overarching theme of these posts is that people with tattoos don't think that others should be judging them or, in some instances, think that their tattoos should be viewed as beautiful or artistic or better than "clean skin".

While I don't condone hurtful criticism, isn't there a difference between scowling at someone because they have body art and forming a mental assessment of someone based on how they treat their own body?

There is a big difference between being judgmental and making a judgment call; the difference being how much time and information goes into someone's mental appraisal of another person.  Judging is a part of life; a very necessary part.  Everyday, we judge if food is safe for us to eat or if a toy is safe for our child to play with.  We form judgments about which job to take or how much time we can spare on various activities, based on how positively they will affect us.  We judge movies based off of previews and books based off of personal and professional reviews.  We judge other people based on how the speak, dress or smell; we judge them on their facial expressions and their body language.  Why would we not judge other people based on how they permanently alter their bodies?

I'm not saying that anyone deserves to be looked down upon for having tattoos.  I absolutely do not think that.  What I'm saying is that, historically, many people with excessive or disturbing tattoos have been seen as being involved in criminal activity or, at the very least, associating with people who are.  While I believe that this is not always the case nowadays, mostly due to the growing social acceptance of permanent body art, there is some merit in this assumption.

A study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that adolescents who get permanent tattoos display increased anti-social behavior.  Here's a screenshot from the abstract of the study:

Timothy A. Roberts, M.D. and Sheryl A. Ryan, M.D., Tattooing and High-Risk Behavior in Adolescents, Division of Adolescent Medicine, Strong Children’s Research Center, University of Rochester School of Medicine, Rochester, NY.


So what should we take from this information?  That it's okay to exhibit prejudice against people with tattoos?  I certainly hope not.  I also hope that we, as a society, don't dilute ourselves into thinking that our actions don't have consequences.  If you choose to get tattoos, you know that you could be opening yourself up to the judgments of others, whether they are accurate or not.  If you choose to judge people with tattoos before you take the time to know them, you could be denying yourself of some positive associations with decent individuals.

The bottom line of my thoughts is this:  Let's all be friends and agree to disagree on this one.  Tattoos aren't artistic to everyone and they aren't signs of delinquency to everyone else.

Seriously, let's just be friends.

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