Tattoos: From Marginal to Mainstream

By Nathan Hritz

There are many items people can adorn their bodies within the name of self-expression, such as clothing, jewelry, shoes or a haircut. But few parallel the level of self-expression that comes from a tattoo.

From scripture verses to the name of a current or past significant other, tattoos are becoming increasingly popular these days, particularly within our generation. And who can blame us? Tattoos are a beautiful and artistic way of saying something about yourself.

I am sure by now you have figured out I am a proponent of tattoos. I personally sport “Liberty or Death” within the outline of Pennsylvania on my upper left arm. Those words, made famous by Patrick Henry 240 years ago speak volumes to me as a freedom lover. Pair that with the outline of my great state where I was born and raised and that will tell you as much about me as I would care for you to know.

There is nothing better than a tattoo with a meaning. That means a good story is entailed. Granted every tattoo has a story, but something that has had honest thought put into it will always turn out better than something spawned out of boredom and spontaneity.

Tattoos are not for everybody. However, if you can bear the sensation of having a needle penetrate your flesh thousands of times a minute, then you are a prime candidate. The needle creates an odd sensation. It does not feel great, but seeing the final product will make the angst of the needle worth it. Most of my tattooed friends would all agree it is a sensation worth enduring. In fact, most of them return for more.

To me, the experience of getting a tattoo and the culture and history that come along with going to a tattoo parlor and getting inked up is oddly reminiscent of the feeling I have going to my local barber. The faint odor of cigarettes and the artist’s preference in music make even the most hardcore-looking tattoo artist just a little more welcoming.

I have been a fan of tattoos for as long as I can remember. I distinctly remember a man with a chief’s headdress tattooed on his forearm at the church I attended as a child. I never knew the man, but even as a child I had an unspoken respect for him just because of the tattoo on his aged skin.

Which leads into my next point: older generations threaten us youngsters with the fact that tattoos are permanent. But I have never understood that as a threat. For me, the tattoo I have is a little piece of home I will always carry with me. The permanence of body art is something I find beautiful. It is stoic, immovable and there to stand the trials and tribulations that life brings.

I hope to see the tattoo culture among millennials continue to grow. I love tattoos with a passion; I never hesitate to speak with anybody about them. To me, it seems as if everything I was warned about regarding tattoos is what pushed me head first in to the vast pool of culture that is affiliated with them. I absolutely love it.