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The History of Tattoos and Body Piercing

By angel0478 Apr 28, 2010 1771 Words
The History of Tattoos and Body Piercing
* * * * Angela Gipson
* * * * COM/150
* * * * 04/30/2010
* * * * Linda Neff
Tattoos and body piercings come in different shapes and sizes, from the delicate to the extreme. What is the obsession with tattoos and body piercings and why do people insist on having them done? Do people just do these gestures without knowing the pros, cons, and the statistics of people who get an infection or die from tattoos and body piercing? Everyone has the ability to find this knowledge and utilize this knowledge and make a choice whether to have the tattoo or piercing done. People should know that contracting an infection or dying does not happen to everyone. HISTORY OF TATTOOS

Throughout the years, evidence shows tattoos date back to as early as 4,000 B.C. In 1991, scientists found Otzi, also known as the Iceman, with a total of 58 tattoos made up of only simple dots and lines. Scientists believe that these markings may have been used for medicinal purposes because (the markings were near or on typical acupuncture points and evidence showed osteoarthritis) “” Body piercing has been ornamented for as long as tattooing, and the Egyptians used piercings as a symbol of royalty and bravery. Some body piercings were even used for religious purposes. In some areas, tattoos and body piercings were used as a rite of passage, especially for males to show they were looked upon as adults. These rituals usually consisted of being marked or acquiring piercings through the face. In society today, tattoos and piercings are often seen as a way to express oneself or to show rebellion (they are also considered forms of self-harm, insolence, self-sufficiency, and to be a part of something, for instance, being incarcerated or being affiliated with gang members) (Scheller, 2001). Pride also plays a huge part. For example, if a man put a tattoo band around his biceps, his biceps could appear to be larger and if a woman was to put a tattoo around her belly button or on her lower back, then that would proceed to draw attention to her body. This ink or piercing gives people an identity. PROS AND CONS

As with anything people do in life, there are good consequences, but there are bad consequences as well. With the good, included is an opportunity to stand out and the opportunity for self-expression. Many people who make the decision to embellish tattoos acquire them for symbolic meanings, although some people desire to get the tattoo or piercing done because of how the tattoo or piercing looks. The cons of tattoos and body piercings are an open book. When a person acquires a tattoo, artists use a needle and inject large amounts of ink into the skin, so the risk of getting an infection is always going to be there (If the tattoo artist isn’t sanitary and doesn’t clean his equipment after every use, the risk of infection tends to be much higher).”” Artists even use an ink, black henna that accounts for serious vulnerability to allergies and hives that lead to kidney deficiency and possibly mortality in people receptive to the elements the ink produces (These types of tattoos are particularly unsafe to adolescents) (_Children’s Health Encyclopedia__ 2006_). When sanitary procedures and protocol are not obeyed, people increase their risk of contracting HIV, Hepatitis C, or even Hepatitis B. Removal is another concern when obtaining tattoos, especially if the decision is made to no longer keep the tattoo. Laser surgery used to remove tattoos is one of the fastest growing procedures for the dermatology industry. Tattoo removal with laser surgery could cause an excessive amount of pain, based on the size of the tattoo and the colors used. There are cases acknowledged in which people have made the choice to get a tattoo, and infection set up so profusely that no other alternative was available except to have the tattoo removed. Some tattoos carried out by tattoo artists have been problematic to remove because the tattoos are absorbed so deeply and the ink compact and complicated. (It usually takes between 10 and 15 laser surgery sessions to remove the average tattoo, but) 30 to 35 sessions are not uncommon and even then the tattoo could still be visible. Removal with laser surgery charges an amount of $7,100.00 for one tattoo (Davis, 2004). Body piercing includes the use of a piercing gun, so it also raises the risks tetanus, disfigurement, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, infection that can be lasting, and even allergies on the skin from the jewelry being used (_Children’s_ Health Encyclopedia 2006.) In 2006, a study declared that 16% of students in college that had piercings done, ended up suffering medical emergencies from tearing and infection (Armstrong, 2004). People even require surgery because of the piercing gun’s force destroying delicate cartilage on the upper ear (_Children’s Health Encyclopedia 2006_.) As if these cons listed were not enough, there is even a chance of death when getting tattoos and body piercing because of infection. These deaths have been mainly related with tattoos, but it is not uncommon with body piercings. An infection, necrotizing fasciitis, plainly eats the flesh from the inside out. This is more common with “ back street” tattoos and piercings. STATISTICS

In the mid-1990s, according to U.S. News and World Report (1995), tattoos and body piercing parlors are one of the fastest growing chains of business in America. The once distasteful practice of body markings has gained extensive acceptance and popularity and it has been documented that there are 48,126 studios for tattoos currently in service (Fallon, 2009.) Of men and women between ages 18 and 50, almost a fourth currently exhibit a tattoo and at least 16 % sport a body piercing, not including the earlobes, according to a survey from Northwestern University. Studies have shown that the year of birth was an analytical factor for tattoos: (42% of people between ages 18 to 29; 25 % of people between ages 30 to 40; and only 16 % of those between the ages 40 to 50 have tattoos. Of these statistics, 16 % had gotten their first tattoo before they were 18) (Fallon, 2009). Studies have found that women account for almost three-fourths of people with body piercings and a third received their first piercing under the age of 18. Studies show that people of lower education are more likely to have a tattoo or body piercing and drinking alcohol or using recreational drugs increased these rates. Over a third of ex-drinkers and a fourth of current have tattoos or body piercings, as did almost 40 % of those who have ever used recreational drugs and 60 % of those who have been confined for more than three days. Since the 1980s, there have been three stated deaths related to infections from tattoos and body piercings. In CDC’s AIDS/HIV reports of surveillance, they have recorded no cases of AIDS or HIV transmittal from tattoos anywhere in the United States ever since they assembled the data in 1985.) Twelve cases of Hepatitis are documented in the most recent report from CDC. These cases are connected to tattoo parlors. There has not been a percentage noted for those who have contracted hepatitis with “backstreet” tattoos and piercings. PREVENTION AND PARENTAL CONCERNS

Most piercings and tattoos heal well and there are no signs of infection. Infection is a casual problem and can range in severity. Another problem people have is they decide the piercing or tattoo is unacceptable and they change their mind about wanting to keep the tattoo or piercing. Individual’s minds that are appealed to obtaining a piercing or tattoo need to make sure the business has clean accommodations. The individual administering the piercing or tattoo needs to wear sterile gloves always and apparatus needs to be disinfected after each use. A germicidal or antiseptic of some sort should be put on the tattoo to reduce the transmission of infection (_Children’s Health_ Encyclopedia 2006). Clearly, the only other alternative to prevent transmission of an infection is to avoid obtaining a tattoo or piercing to begin with. If a person decides to still go through with having a tattoo or piercing done anyway, there are ways to minimize the risks. If there are parental concerns, parents should investigate every aspect before making a decision on whether to let a child get any tattoos or body piercings. Almost three-fourths of children failed to inform their parents about their decision. If parents do let a child get these procedures done, he or she should know that an experienced artist should perform the procedure and it should be done in a disinfected atmosphere. A new needle needs to be removed from the package and the artist needs to wear sterile gloves. If a person is considering a tattoo made from henna, a person needs to be informed always what type of henna is being used. Individuals should request brown henna, not black, be used. When doing piercings, they need to be done with jewelry polished and made of niobium, titanium, surgical steel, or no less than 14 carat gold or greater than 18 carat gold. Using any other jewelry besides those listed above could cause an allergic reaction (_Chi__ldren’s Health Encyclopedia 2006)._ Society will always have different opinions about tattoos and the people who have tattoos and body piercings should consider the other person’s point of view and his or her reasons for not liking a tattoo or piercing or not wanting one. People who don’t have tattoos or piercings may not know all the facts that are associated with having tattoos and piercings done and if society educated ourselves more about the reasons, pros, and cons, then people can open their minds to reasons some people should have them and why some people should oppose them. People need to consider all the facts and their options before deciding whether a tattoo or piercing is right for them. WORKS CITED

Armstrong, M. L., et al. (2004) “Contemporary College Students and Body Piercing.” Journal of Adolescent Health, (35), 22-50 Harris, Roger (2002) “Roger Harris Column.” Ventura County Star, August 5, 2002 Issue “Children’s Health Encyclopedia,” (2006)

“Tattoos and Body Piercing.” Retrieved from: http// Scheller, Randy (2001) Retrieved from: http// “The Pros and Cons of Tattoos and Body Piercings.” Retrieved from:http// .

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