Tattoos...WHY do people get them?

So I'm doing a research paper on tattoos. I'm interested in WHY people chose to get the image they have, and WHY they would chose the form of a TATTOO.

The thing is, tattoos used to symbolize one's status in ancient cultures, but has since developed into more of a fashion accessory. I'm interested in that transformation.

I feel as though the tattoo process has developed with technology, and tattoos have become more accessible to the common person. In addition, media has reduced much of the stigma/taboo of the art form.

So now, people get more tattoos! But why?

Why did you get the image you did, and what is the reason you would chose something so permanent?

Non-tattooed people can respond to with your opinions! And perhaps why you choose NOT to get a tattoo.

My reasons: One of my tattoos symbolizes my graduation from high school, the other is an inspirational tattoo that also links me to my sister. I chose the form of a tattoo because I think the art form is much more permanent than a picture/video/trinket that can get lost, and I like the idea of being able to proudly display the art on my body and it gives people a little taste of who I am from a distance.


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Most Helpful Guy

  • as a person with two complete arm sleeves for me its completley about art and when it comes to art its not just the imagery its also the medium (what its done on) like a sculpture carved out of stone means somthing different than the same sculpture carved of wood (because of the medium used) in this case the medium is the flesh ... the medium holds tons of meaning .. its permanent... its YOU .. so I found it to be an excellent expression of the most deepest "who I am" and these are things that are true not only today but since I was born and will continue to be true until I die ... :D ... so to answer your question ..we all often do it because its a wonderful opportunity to truly express this deep inner "us" in the only medium appropriate for such a thing

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    • Great answer. I just completed my paper, and I hit on that note a bit. I definetely think you have a valid point.

What Guys Said 6

  • Well it depends, I'm all for getting a tattoo that YOU came up with, but if you pick a design out of a book it seems like the only thing being expressed is the tattoo artists art, on your body, forever... seems kind of silly if you think about it, paying someone money to express themselves on you. But yeah, if you design the tattoo or if it's part of your clan, or group that you are into for life, like if you are in a gang and don't expect to be around for very long then tattoo's are very cool, but if it's something generic out of a tattoo book that someone else came up with, it's just a little on the retarded side, I feel like they should pay ME to draw on ME.

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    • I agree! Tattoos should be much more personal than some peoples reasons.

  • I have quite a few tattoos (somwhere around 25). Most of them I've done myself for all different reasons. The stupidest reasons being...

    1 - I had an interview at a tattoo shop so I did a tattoo on my thigh to add more work to my portfolio

    2 - to try out a new brand of ink.

    3 - I got bored and wanted to kill time.

    that being said do I regret the tattoo's? No.I love all my tattoo's except one. That one being a constant reminder of a life that I fought so dearly for and will never have (and no it's not an ex's name.)

    some of my favorite tattoo's are...

    1 - Gir from Invader zim. It was my favorite show growing up and still 10 years later I quote it like I'm 12.

    2 - a pirate skull on my shin. It was a random design I came up with and I presented it in my portfolio when I applied for my tattooing apprenticeship and the artist said it was the best out of my portfolio and that it showed I had what it takes to really become an tattoo artist (this was at a very reputible shop in the area btw).

    3 - F.A.k.E across my knuckles. EVERYBODY lies and I don't feel that if people accepted that more often in life then they'd be far, far, far less concerned about the insignificant lies that they are told on a daily basis.

    tattoo's I want to get...

    above my elbow a quote from Jonny Rotten - "Hahahaha you ever feel like you've been cheated."

    A bar code on the back of my neck containing my birthdate.

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  • Why do people follow religion or dress a certain way or get piercings? Its a form of self expression and being who you want to be and following your own personal beliefs. I believe my piercings and tattoos represent who I am and prove that the way I look has nothing to do with what kind of person I am

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  • I got my tattoo because I feel its a good way to express what I love to do in MY life , milestones and remembrance of the people I enjoy sharing it with. One can say you can do all that without having to get your body modified but for me I've grown up with people having tattoos and its just something I enjoy looking at and getting done. As Gregs said anything to be trendy and just something from someone elses mind is silly . What I have on me and what I will have on me will be from my design .

    link

    Me and the old man designed that , its something we do a lot together , travel to etc. Its also made me lots of money : ) and something ill be doing for awhile . Its got lots of meanings. It also has lots of work to get done yet that's only the main piece of the picture!

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  • I like tatoos, but do not have one because I cannot think of one thing I could put on my body that I would be happy with for the rest of my life...

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    • That's understandable! I am confident that I will be happy with mine forever, because they materialize significant phases in my life. It took me about a year to come up with each of my tattoos. I would toy around with ideas then wake up one day with an "ah-ha, this is it!" moment lol. I wanted them to be perfect, and thankfully they are :)

  • i got fk the dogs on my neck

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What Girls Said 14

  • i have 4 but they're all in the same spot. I got them all at different times and if someone got them because "it's cute" then they're a total f***ing idiot. they're all on my right side below my panty line. I have a nautical star (I got it BEFORE it was the thing to do and now it pisses me off when I see someone with it). there are actually a few stories behind the meaning of the nautical star but 90% of my friends are military ,even a lot of my family is military, I was also engaged to someone who was deployed for 9months well Nautical stars are deep with history and date back centuries; soldiers, sailors and marines used them as guiding lights at night to give them direction and ensure a safe and precise journey. The symbolism of this tattoo design has changed slightly over the years but the recognizable icon remains the same. This 3d style tattoo has five star points and lines drawn down the middle of each with one side usually colored darker then the other.For women nautical stars are more of a remembrance tattoo for military or loved ones who are away or gone for long periods of time, displaying this tattoo is meant to show that they will always find their way back to the wearer as a guided light. Other meanings for women suggest that their own life as gone off into a completely different direction from where they begin, or they use it as a personal adviser so that they never stray from their goals. Another story of it was, back in the older days when being gay was a huuge deal and you were treated like sh*t if you were, people would tattoo them on their wrists and at night they'd pull their sleeves up so that the ones who were gay would know and during the day they'd keep it covered so everyone else wouldn't. I also got my initials because out of 4 generations of AJs my dad really wanted me to have the initials AJ and it's weird I know but I love that I'm the only girl in our family with those initials. I also have two smaller stars around my nautical star. one's black and one's red. (my nautical star is black and red)

    a lot of people get tattoos for gang related reasons and when you go to jail if you have a tattoo everybody knows your story.

    if you have a tear drop, spiderweb, cross, skulls, heart with a dagger through it, tear drop filled in, eagle, religious symbol, etc.

    that's why I was extra careful with my tattoos. what happens if somehow I accidentally end up in prison and some tattoo I got is something that'll get me killed ya know?

    soo many people get tattoos for the dumbest reasons, "it's cute" or "it looked weird" not thinking about who on the street they'll pass that might think it means something else.

    going out and getting a tattoo of a crown because my nickname is princess would be a dumb move because that's a latin king tattoo you see?tattoos can also say what rank someone is

    a lot of people find the idea of tattoos trashy and I laugh when people tatted up get pissy as if they've never heard someone say,"it's permanent"

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    • oh, I forgot to point out, I got my tattoo on my hip where I did so I could cover it up when I wanted to. it's low enough for me to cover it up but high enough for me to show it off;) tattoos can be cute but they can be dangerous too and it isn't like I can go take a bath and it comes off so I was as smart as possible before doing something like that.

  • Thirty or forty years from now when your grandchildren ask you what that ugly wrinkled dark spot is on you, what will you tell them then?

    I feel tattoo's have become a fad that will make its full circle run and then be gone, but for those who have them (especially the dumb ones) they are with you forever. I have a female aquaintance who for example shaved her coochie and just as close as they could do it printed "Real Men Eat Here" which is funny now, but what about the day she grows up and realizes not many guys are going to think very highly of it on their wife.

    For fun I have put on several tattoo's that are later removed with soap and water. Now that is fun.

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    • That type of tattoo is surely regrettable. But many tattoos have a meaning that the bearer holds dear. I will not regret mine when I'm older. They are a token of my youth & memories that I cherish. Tattoos have definitely become more of a "fad" but it is an art from that been around for over 5200 years; they aren't going anywhere anytime soon!

  • I think people get tattoos to be diffrent, unique, because it means something to them. I myself have 4 tattoos. the first one is of my last name and I was 16 when I got it - stupid mistake. at least its easily hidden. I have the army embelm shoulder to shoulder in memory of grandpa who was in world war II and battle of the buldge and also for a cousin who was in the army who passed away. I have a anchor also for when I tried to get in the navy a few years back, rememberance of how hard I tried and disciplined myself, and for a friend who was a boxer in the navy, got the tat after his funeral. these tats beside my last name and another mean a lot to me and they are on my back so its not like I have them for all to see. only those close to me see them and even know I have them, a lot of people are surprised when they find out I have them. hah!

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  • I choose my tattos as a form to carry things that would last forever, like your link with your sister...

    Because even after my death, this part of my body will remain there. I also have indian (brazilian native blood) and maybe my roots talked a little...

    So my first ONE I got when I was 18 and says Family and has a red rose, I got her after went through a really hard process emotionally / mentally / healthy

    The second is an Ankh that represents the Rebirth (sunset and sundown), also linked with the hard situation that I went through

    The 3rd is the word Music one of my everlasting loves, maybe what always kept me going on...

    The 4th is an arabic egypt write that means: only LOVE is real.

    Because is something that I figure out and was shocking to know that all other feelings that you have and scenarios that you are in are just your mind tricking you, the only truth that you really sure is what YOU FEEL, in my case, Love was the only thing that was real, even if was loving myself.

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  • The majority of mine, and in particular have no meaning attached to them. I got them purely because I liked them and because I designed them they are unique to me. Why pay £2000 for a painting that only you'll see hanging up in your living room, when you can actually wear your own artwork?

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  • This is my tattoo: link

    I got a shooting star because I like what they represent: wishes (or dreams) coming true. I also think they're pretty =)

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  • i don't have tattoo but I want one. I like to see them as reminders of who you are and what you've been through, that is assuming you get something that's not on the wall at the tattoo shop. I want one that says "let it be" right on my hand so I can always see it and be reminded to stop questioning everything and everyone. I like to question everything and it has stressed me out to the max. so I need a reminder. but I think people do it just to be "cool" just like peer pressure almost. I think tattoos have lost their true meaning and became just another thing for people to demolish. I almost don't want one just because everyone else does! ...i like to be unique...

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  • My best friend and I have matching hearts. I myself love tattos I think they are sexy, I only have one tat tht doesn't have any meaning. I have Libra scales because I am a libra, I have love oneself on my wrist in chinese and I have a rose on my right ankel that I'm going to get covered up with something else, its very small. and I plan to get more. some are just pretty to be pretty and some have meanings. they next ones I'm going to get will all have special meanings

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  • A tattoo is a form of art & expression. People get them to make their body more beautiful & to express their passions & loves.

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  • I totally think that SOME,not everyone, but a few people get tattoos because its a trend. that they wanna "fit in" I mean why else would people get stupid stars all over themselves. tattoos need to have meaning behind them in my opinion. don't get a tattoo just to say you got a tattoo!

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  • Modify is a really great documentary about body modifications. If you have netflix you can stream it to your computer. It might help with your paper.

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  • trashy..! I say girls should not have more than one, and it should be in a secret place.

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  • i thought about getting one but I always feared I may regret it later, so I passed. I just think that even though a symbol may mean a lot to you, a tattoo isn't the only option left where you can embrace that symbol...

    i, for instance, like to get tshirts with that symbol, I think tshirts make statements and people notice, or may be hang a photo or piece of art in my room and interior decorate, so I can look at it and admire it all the time, I don't think its necessary to stamp it on my body, I was never a fan of needles anyways lol I'm a wuss...

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  • I have two tattoos. I got them because I wanted them and they both meant something to me.

    On my back, between my shoulders I have, 'wake your dreams' and then down by my right hip I have a swirly star design. I've always loved quotes dealing with controlling your own destiny and making things happen instead of letting them happen.

    Also, I know that they're permanent. When I'm old I won't care that the skin there is wrinkly and saggy, covered in ink, because the rest of me will be wrinkly too.

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