Expressing Identity Through Tattoos and Piercings

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Expressing Identity through Tattoos and Piercings
The rising popularity of tattoos and body piercing is more than just the latest fashion craze. This type of body art has been a part of this world for thousands of years. Tattoos and piercings have served as amulets, status symbols, declarations of love, signs of religious beliefs, adornments and even forms of punishment (Smithsonian.com). In the later years (1940 – 2000) tattoos and piercings were more common among teenagers and young adults, but now, people of all ages are expressing themselves through body art. To try and understand this rise in the desire to permanently mark ones self, we must first determine the origin and history of tattoos and piercings.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the first tattoo known to man was found on Otzi, also known as Iceman, in 1991. A total of fifty-eight tattoos were found on Otzi, made up of simple dots and lines. It is believed that these tattoos were therapeutic, to help alleviate joint pain. In the years to come, other tattoos and piercings were discovered. Some of the earliest tattoos were considered tribal tattoos. This means there were tattoos that different cultural tribes would have for certain meanings and expression. The Polynesian tattooing was one of the most original and artistic tattooing of ancient times (The History of Tattoos and Piercings). They believed that tattoos were a sign of beauty and strength. In Japan, tattooing was a way a punishment. If you were convicted a criminal, you would get a mark on your forehead. There have been many other believed reasons for tattoos and piercing, such as, to mark wealth and power, to label as a prostitute, it was even once believed that tattoos on a woman would protect them from contracting an STD (Smithsonian.com).

Body piercings do not seem to date back as far as tattooing. However, it is impressive that this ritual dates back as far as 5,000 years ago. The first recognized piercing was on an...
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