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The Ink Controversy

Updated: Jun 16, 2021

A take on tattoos and professions in modern times

"What is that design on that person's arm that is partly hidden under the sleeves of the t-shirt he's wearing? What does it mean? And most importantly, why did he decide to go through all the pain to get it?"

Isn't that the somewhat the initial thought most of us have when we see someone with tattoos? Believe it or not, tattoos and other body modifications have been around for a very long time and often hold some meaning to the person getting them. It is only in recent times that they have become mainstream and accepted in modern society. But have they really?

Tattoos are simply put; designs, pictures, patterns, or anything that you like, that an artist etches onto your body using a tattoo machine that injects the ink into your skin where it stays forever. In the 80s and 90s', that too mostly in American culture, the only people who sported tattoos were gang members, bikers, rock musicians, hippies, or plain rebellious people. Tattoos were seen as a symbol of unholiness and were looked down upon by most people in society. This was the time when tattoo culture started being popularized around the world. What people forget is, tattoos have held significant value for many years for various tribes symbolizing their faith, sailors who got inked to show the various places they had been during their adventures, and warriors to symbolize the number of heads they had severed.

Fast forward to today, people from all walks of life sport tattoos. Yes, that CEO who seems so sophisticated and reserved has a huge tattoo of a skull on his chest. Your high school teacher who wears full sleeves shirts even on the hottest of days has a sleeve of tribal designs inked onto his arm. Your lawyer who's always looking sharp in a suit has the lyrics of his favourite song tattooed on his upper back.

Tattoos have now become a form of self-expression in the modern age rather than the taboo they used to be nearly 2 decades back. Yet today, many people who consider themselves as progressive, look down upon tattoos. The way one appears plays a huge part in how he/she is perceived by others, and to this day, when these people see something beautiful inked on someone, they instantly write them off as 'hipsters' or 'rebellions' without even trying to find out what that piece of art on their body means to them. People covered heavily in tattoos are usually seen as very intimidating and are often associated with criminals even though they maybe some of the nice and most deep people you ever meet. These people are denied jobs before they are even allowed to sit in interviews because of the tattoos that they have even though they might be brighter than anyone else sitting in the room waiting to grab that marketing job. This very company calls themselves progressive and tolerant towards self-expression. That Art teacher who had recently been fired from his job in school because someone found out he had a tattoo on the back of his neck; when he tried to explain to the authorities that it was in memory of his younger brother who had died due to cancer 3 years back, but to no avail. Even though these may seem like very insensitive things to do, these instances aren't at all uncommon even to this date. The irony of the fact is that these tattoos wouldn't even cause hindrance in the jobs that they could have potentially kept if they have not had those tattoos.

Is this the highly judgmental world that we wish to live in? In a place where the boss who eve-teases and sexually assaults his subordinates is more accepted than the musician who is covered in ink and volunteers to NGO's and works towards social causes for the betterment of society as a whole. That lady you saw in the grocery store with the face tattoos may not be a bad person or the man with that sleeve of tattoos in the apartment next door is not a criminal. Although more and more fields of professions have permitted tattoos because they have finally come to terms that these are simply a personal way of expression for a person and not a sign of rebellion.

It is high time that we become tolerant towards people who are inked in both, professional and private life. Tattoos are a personal choice and a form of self-expression. One should not be judged based solely because they have tattoos. These pieces of art may hold some real significance in this person’s life and may have helped them overcome some really difficult times in the past.

By - Vedant Mathur

BBA-LLB(Hons.), 3rd Year

Amity Law School, Noida

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