The Stereotypes Against Tattoos

934 Words4 Pages
As time progresses, the stigma against tattooing has evolved, taking on many subject positions including social class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and age. Each subject position has developed through the Ancient, Modern, and Postmodern eras. Some subject positions on tattoos, like the five mentioned before, have invoked anxiety in society across eras, altering the cultural discourse of contemporary society.
The tattoo fashion statement’s origin from the Ancient Era in European cultures was far from appealing. At that time, tattooing was viewed as a “mark of infamy” or a “moral blot” (Caplan 1). This social ‘blot’ gave rise to the divisions of social class. “On all slaves in the Orient, and on fugitive slaves in Greece and Rome” the “stigmata”
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One Indian ethnic group even thought “[t]attoos [as] the only jewels a girl [could] [take] to her grave” (van Dinter, 119). Many of these ethnicities revered tattooing as a prestigious process, marking important events in one’s life, like coming-of-age ceremonies and marriage. For instance, in Indian ethnic culture, women used temporary Henna tattoos during weddings. Ethnicities in India “traditionally used [Henna] for celebrations and right of passage” (http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/newamericans/culturalriches/art_henna.html) for marriages, coming-of-age ceremonies, births, or religious festivals. These tattoos were considered auspicious and were used by only high caste women. This social custom proves that the tattoo’s role in social class still existed across cultures and ethnicities, but its role in this social hierarchy was a positive one, unlike the branding usage in the western cultures of the Ancient era. Because lower caste women did not have access to temporary tattooing, many of them permanently tattooed designs on their hands for their weddings, to still have the auspicious presence of the art on their hands. This separation between high and low caste women in the same ethnicity is another example that illustrates the intersection of the subject positions ethnicity and social class. But as time progressed from the Ancient to the Postmodern era, the social barriers of using Henna in India diminished significantly. In present-day, Henna is one of the many forms of tattooing that has been culturally appropriated and widely used. Though its ancient roots are still firmly ingrained in Indian society, western society has changed the cultural discourse on Henna tattoos by transforming it into a form of fashionable, temporary adornment without any ‘occasion-connections’, stirring anxiety in many
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