Friday, August 12, 2011

Ink & Bling: Destructive Or Creative?

The skin is the largest organ of the human body and nowadays we see it decorated with colourful designs and metal studs and rings. For years, people have been decorating their bodies with tattoos, piercing and other forms of body art for a number of reasons. It is interesting to know that the origin, symbolism and variety of these body decorations are more than skin deep!
Years and years ago, tattoos and piercing were used by tribal clans for artistic expressions or to donate social and marital status and express religious beliefs. The Polynesian people are known for the most artistic tattooing of ancient times. They added more and more tattoos to their skin until they were totally covered. The reason thereof was because they saw it as a sign of beauty and strength. The Mexicans, too, were famous for their tattoo designs as they started to ink the faces of their idols and gods on their skins.
Polynesian tattoos
People get tattooed or pierced for various reasons. For some it is about the excitement and pleasure, for others it is about self-expression and social significance. Others get tattooed or pierced to identify a significant change in their life or for it to serve as a memory of some kind, for example a tragedy that the individual had to overcome or for the death of a loved one. Pain also plays a role with body art. All people experience some sort of pain in their life. Tattoos, specifically, are often used to overcome the pain (one pain takes over another) or to express the pain they are suffering.
The youth are mostly influenced to getting their skin decorated and the media plays a huge role. During your youth years, you are trying to identify yourself in the world – who you are and what you want to be like. They often turn to their role models to find their identity. Most celebrities and role models had some type of body art done and the youth follow their style in order to identify with them. Famous tattooed and pierced role models include Angelina Jolie Pitt, the Backstreet Boys, Janet Jackson, Drew Barrymore, David Beckham, Vin Diesel, Johnny Depp… the list goes on and on. See the for more.

Celebrity tattoos
Although body art is a very creative and symbolic way to express oneself, it is not always seen in positive light. In the Bible, Moses forbids any paintings or cuttings of the flesh in Leviticus 19:28; the Roman and Japanese Emperors had laws against tattoos; and even the over-expressive French had a national law against tattoos in 1869. People (mostly parents) are very against the act of decorating the skin. Both piercings and tattooing can cause medical problems of some sort which includes infections, chipping of teeth and scared body tissue. It is also seen as being destructive to your body – like anorexia, bulimia and obesity. I think the most negative part of having body art is that it affects our professional image. We have all established that first impressions lasts – what will an interviewer think when you walk in with skulls on your arms and a ring through your nostrils? The business world is conservative and that is the way we are suppose to look. Right? Maybe not…
Times are changing and the world (including people’s perceptions on body art) should change with it. Almost every has, or has temped, to get a tattoo or piercing. Personally, I have 6 piercings: 2 in each earlobe, one in my Tragus (the small part of cartilage just in front of the opening of the ear) and one in my navel. I am also really passionate about getting a tattoo at some stage – but the tattoo needs to mean something to me so I am waiting for a sign or significant event before I get one. Although I am Christian (and grossed out with the extreme forms of body art on some people) I am not against tattoos and piercings. I think that it is a unique way of expressing, accepting and understanding yourself.What body art do you have and if you do/don’t, what is the reason? No answer can be right or wrong. You are free to be yourself and to express your in a way that makes you feel comfortable

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