Topics: Tattoo, Body art, Body modification Pages: 8 (2971 words) Published: November 27, 2013

“Marks on Skin”: Social Discrimination against Tattoos

Chon Chan
Northern Lights College
English 100

“Marks on Skin” Social Discrimination against Tattoos

“80 percent of your appearance just reflect the 20 percent of who you are” – T.O.T.

In 2006, the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology did a study and found that 24% of Americans aged 18 - 50 have tattoos (Roddy 2010). That number has surely raised his popularity over the past four years as tattoos are even more commonly seen on rock stars and actors. According to, “tattoos” has been the number one top searched beauty word since the year 2003(Harris, 2012). In the past decades people with tattoos be treated differently when in public. They may have felt that they need to cover up their tattoos in order to be treated fairly. While there are laws against race, age, sex, or religious discrimination in the work place, there is nothing regarding tattooing as modern body art. Roddy recounts how, In 2007, a man named Gilbert Carrillo was denied housing at an apartment complex due to his tattoos. The owner of the complex stated that he did not accept rent to persons who has tattoos visible on their body. Because there were no laws against tattoos discrimination, the owner had the right to deli Carrillo’s his housing request (2010). Tattooing is one of the body arts that has been discriminated against by the society. Accordingly, this essay will focus on social discrimination against the tattoo. First I will briefly outline the history of the tattoo. Second, I will show how society has discriminated against people with tattoos in their work place and public places. Third, I will discuss why people get tattoos. Fourth, I will show the opinion of people in different occupations concerning tattoos and the people who have them. My primary sources will include magazine and newspaper articles, personal interviews, social media, personal experience and academic sources. Tattoo has been considered as much vandalism as art. O’Neil (2012) States that Tattoos were once a sign of rebellion, but now they are evidence of conformity to cultural norms. Harri’s (2012) argues that the tattoo is modern body art. Powell (2012) Describes tattoo as tradition in Hawaiian culture. I will argue that the society has been mistaken in identifying the tattoo as mush vandalism. Europeans discovered tattoo when they made contact with Polynesians and American Indians. The word tattoo comes from the Tahitian word tattau, which means "to mark,” and was first mentioned by the explorer James Cook in his 1769 South Pacific expedition record. In 1991, on the border of Australia and Italy, the body of a men petrified in ice was found with over 50 tattoos on his body. Scientist believes that the tattoo was a very common body mark for the people of his time, around 5000 years ago . Tattooing has been a big part of the Pacific Island cultures since the first island communities arose. Even though there are several version of the origin of these traditions, the tattoo for the islander was a unique mark that represents his role in his society. Studies over the last ten years show that people from all occupations, ages, and social classes are getting tattoo (Armstrong 1991). According to Bell, there is a differentiation between people who have tattoos and tattooed people. People who have tattoos only have one or two, usually images strategically places so as no to be seen. Tattooed people have many tattoos; they are usually larger, more colorful and placed so they can be appreciated (1999). According to Roddy during the last few decades, many employers have left many tattooed people out of their job due to discrimination. There are many cases in which highly qualified employees have been turned down for the jobs based solely on their tattoos. Recently, many companies have become...

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