Tattoos And Body Piercings As Symbolic Markings


Permanent tattooing or temporary piercing are being used for anesthetic value as body adornment, often marking pivotal life events or aiding an individual in overcoming traumatic experiences. Some see inking and piercing their bodies as a permanent source of confidence.

Body modification is a way of ritually reconnecting ourselves with society. Most often these adornments are seen as rebellious and defiant of social norms. Modern scarification, once used as a punishment have become voluntary acts of modification used to create a specific visual effect.

Today our tribal tattooing is a rite of passage creating a bridge for personal catharsis, marking our difference, accentuating one’s sense of self-identity and attaining mastery and control over the body.

Often seen as immaturity, over 62 percent of people piercings have done so in an effort "to express their individuality. Some sexual abuse survivors choose body piercing as a means of "reclaiming body parts from memories of abuse".

Over 36 percent of the armed forces and the military veterans are tattoo wearers. Often marking deployment and returning home safely. The markings reflecting the journey of these pivotal life experiences. Individuals that don’t serve are half as likely to have a tattoo.

While piercing and tattooing are popular, the Mayo Clinic study reports that 17 percent of college students with piercings suffered a medical complication such as infection or tearing. The American Dental Association opposes tongue, lip or cheek piercing. The American Academy of Dermatology is against all forms of body piercing except ear lobe piercing.

Over 40 percent of people eighteen to forty years of age have at least one tattoo. The majority of middle aged individuals are deciding to remove their tattoos.

Tattoo removal is on the rise, women accounting for the majority of procedures. Midlife crisis causes many to rethink their decisions regarding their ink. As more people continue to get tattoos, the more people are having tattoos removed.

Among those without tattoos, tattooed individuals are considered less intelligent, healthy, spiritual and more rebellious.

With no ‘rite of passage’ replacement in sight this trend will continue. As a way of art, fashion, individuality, therapy and rebellion it has found its home on our culture.