Tattoos and Society

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"Tattoos are created by inserting colored materials beneath the skins surface. The skin is penetrated with a sharp tool. Today colored ink and an electric needle are the material and instrument of choice. Today the practice is popular with a vast cross section of the population. Within the United States tattoos can be found on individuals ranging from gang member to fashion models." "The word tattoo comes from the Tahitian word "tatu" which means "to mark something". It is arguably claimed that tattooing has existed since 12,000 years BC. ( "

On December 8, 1891, the first electric tattoo machine was registered by its inventor, Samuel O'Reilly, at the United States Patent Office. It was based on a machine patented by Thomas Edison in 1875, but rather than using the tool as a means to embroider fabric, which Edison did, O'Reilly's tattoo machine as meant to "embroider" skin. (Miller, 1) When O'Reilly invented this new machine he didn't know the whirlwind he would help create in the next 100+ years. Youth and adolescence is one of the most, significant and influential moments in everyone's life, when the youth are seeking to identify who they are. Tattooing and body piercing are one of the many ways through which young people express their own unique identity. They are symbolic representations of how they are perceived. When you are young you are trying to find your identity. Most adolescents go through several transitions one of those is more than likely trying to be the cool guy. But it is quite the opposite, because getting a piercing or tattoo is signifying certain changes in ones life. It symbolizes adulthood (because you have to be 18 to get pierced or tattooed) or that of appearing to be more grown up because you were able to make this life changing decision or just because you're of the legal age and just randomly decided you wanted to get pierced or tattooed. Starting with the 1960's when Lyle Tuttle tattooed Janis Joplin a tattoo revolution started happening. A lot of girls were getting the "Janis heart". It was also the time when motorcycles, choppers, and the hells angels were very popular so you could see a lot of bikers with tattoos. A lot of people associated tattoos with outlaws and general bad asses of society. But with the creation of MTV, tattoos have taken on a different meaning. Now that MTV and rock musicians were becoming even more popular you could see more and more people getting tattooed just to be cool.
In the early 1990's there was unrest among the youth of America. They were getting tired of society and its norms, they needed to escape the tradition of go to school, get a job, get married, have kids, retire, and die, they wanted more to life than just that. With the grunge movement the younger generation was feeling rebellious and so with it came body piercing and the resurgence of tattooing. The youth of America was compulsively obsessed to break the mold of typical norms in society; they didn't want to be like their parents they didn't want to be closed minded to new things.

In the middle 90's Lollapalooza, an arts and music festival, was able to successfully integrate various music genres along with celebrating multiculturalism. From rappers, punk rockers, mainstream rock bands and bands the stage at lollapalooza had them all. Along with music they had skateboard demos, rare merchandise areas and the high light of the event, the tattoo and piercing tents. For the first time, the body arts were made available to the people they were furthest away from. With a melding of different lifestyles and value came many different types of ideals. Different people seem to reflect a world that they're experiencing differently than others and Dennis Rodman seemed to be experiencing something more than the NBA. He was one of the first athletes to be visibly alternative while maintaining success.

During this period of time was when...
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