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The Art Of Tattoos Essay

1389 words - 6 pages

Tattooing has changed and grown rigorously over the past couple centuries. The practice of tattooing is an ancient one dating back to about 4000 B.C. and is worldwide in its distribution (Roenigk 179). Tattooing has grown to now be considered a mainstream activity and is no longer confined to prison populations, sailors, and gang members. Tattooed bodies now include adolescents, career women, and college students (Millner 425). Throughout all these years, tattoos have been used as protection against danger, as love charms, to restore youth, to ensure good health and long life, to accomplish fertility, to bring about the death to an enemy, to cure an illness, to insure a happy afterlife, and even to acquire supernatural power. Although countless studies have been implemented to try to reign in just how much tattooing is widespread, Atkinson sums it all up when he says, “For the most part, though, we still know very little about contemporary tattoo enthusiasts’ fascination with this body project, cultural sensibilities about the practice, or collectively shared understandings of tattoo art.” (4). Tattoos, being complex visuals of body art, have a different meaning to each individual that is deeper than what it appears, whether it be a symbol of survival, a memorial, a memory, or a result of a drunken stupor; however, not all permanent markings are ones that should be shared and forever imprinted on your body.
The operational definition of tattooing is the insertion of ink or some other pigment through the outer covering of the body, the epidermis, into the dermis, the second layer of skin (Schlibkrout 4). To do this, professional tattoo artists use a sharp utensil, such as a special electric needle or battery of needles, to inject tattoo pigments into the dermis at a depth of one to two millimeters and at a rate of fifty to three thousand times per minute. If getting a tattoo by an amateur, with which you may or may not be aware, they often use objects such as pens, pencils, knives, needles, or straight pins and inject substances such as India ink, carbon, charcoal, or mascara (Millner 426). To achieve various colors you must use certain pigments or even a mixture of pigments. Some pigments would include: Carbon, Cinnabar, Cadmium selenide, Sienna, Cobaltous aluminate, Chromic oxide, Chromium sesquioxide, Cadmium sulfide, Ochre, Iron oxide, Manganese, and Titanium dioxide. Although puncturing the skin is usually painful, preoperative sedation by heavy alcohol intake helps to mask the pain (Roenigk 180). Fading occurs in some tattoos, but other designs may persist for life.
Bacteria living on needles, and other instruments used for tattooing, and the risk of infections can lead to multiple health risks. Some reported medical complications of body art include bleeding, tissue trauma and scarring, bacterial infections, tetanus, viral infections, and in some cases even oral and dental injuries (Mayers 29). Multiple health risks associated with...

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