Tattoos and Piercings

Topics: Body modification, Tattoo, Body art Pages: 3 (936 words) Published: February 21, 2013
Tattoos and Piercings 1

Tattoos and Piercings

When you look at someone and see a tattoo or piercing, what do you think? Do you instantly see this person in a negative light or do you simply see it as a way in which the individual is expressing themselves? Tattoos and piercings are a form of nonverbal communication that can communicate many things to us. Nonverbal communication is defined as “all modes of communication except language, including nonword vocals, gestures, use of space, time, artifacts, and smell” (Warren and Fassett 201). These different forms of nonverbal communication, such as tattoos and piercings, help to portray one’s unique image and style to society.

Tattoos and piercings are both forms of body modification that have been used to help identify individuals for many years. Dating all the way back to 700 A.D., the ancient Mayans practiced ear, lip, cheek, and nasal piercings. Women from the Maori culture used chin tattoos to signify womanhood and the ability to bear children and marry. In addition, Romans used tattooing to mark criminals and Eskimos used lip piercings to symbolize womanhood (Rush, 30-36). One other example of ancient forms of body modification dates back to 1700 Japan. In this ancient Japanese culture, tattooing was considered as an aesthetic art form. In their culture, the royalty wore ornate clothing and as a result the middle class adorned themselves with elaborate full body tattoos (Lineberry). For many years, tattoos and piercings have been used to help identify people in society.

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Although body modification has been used for many years as an identifier, the uses of tattoos and piercings has become much more complex in today’s culture. Tattoos and piercings were once believed to be relegated to the margins of society. The only people you would see with tattoos and piercings were bikers, military, and sailors. In today’s culture, they are much more commonplace...

Cited: Atkinson, Michael. Tattooed: The Sociogenesis of Body Art. Canada. University of Toronto Press Incorporated, 2003.
Lineberry, Cate. “Tattoos: The Ancient and Mysterious History” Smithsonian, 1 Jan. 2007. 16 Feb.2013.
Rubin, Lawrence. “Tattoos and Body Piercings: Adolescent Self-Expression or Self Mutilation” Pschology Today, 2 Jul. 2009. 16 Feb. 2013.
Rush, John A. Spiritual Tattoo: A Cultural History of Tattooing, Piercing, Scarification, Branding, Implants. Berkeley, California. Frog.Ltd. 2005.
Warren, John T. and Deanna L. Fasset. Communication: A Critical/Cultural Introduction.
Thousand Oaks. Sage Publications, 2011. Print.
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