Written by Hannah Richard
There are many universal rites of passage in the United States. When you turn sixteen you get your drivers license, at seventeen teenage Texans can legally have sex, and at eighteen you can buy porn, cigarettes and vote.
Another supposed thing happens when you turn the magical age of eighteen: you can get a tattoo.
What I want to know is when the heck did getting needles repeatedly jammed into your flesh become the “thing to do” when you turn eighteen?
Now, instead of asking for an iPhone or Xbox 360 for their birthday, kids are asking for tattoos, and many parents go along with the whole thing.
Before turning eighteen, it seems that teenagers always feel the need to rebel against “the system” and get tattooed anyways.
Some do manage to fly under authority’s radar, most likely at parlors that are not sterile nor law abiding or by an especially zealous friend who claims they can tattoo them..
Sure, it’s only normal for kids to feel the need for rebellion when they aren’t allowed to do something, but why are there so many kids getting tattooed when it’s considered legal?
Tattoos have transformed from forms of self-expression into just another cool thing to do.
I would know; I’m one of the 70 trillion kids who went out on their eighteenth birthday and got a tat.
Reminiscing on the situation, I realize that I only did it because everyone else was.
Practically a third of my graduating class, granted it was a whopping 98 people, came to school the day after their birthday with some sort of tattoo or body piercing.
A guy in my calculus class got a massive nautical star on his left shoulder blade, and when I asked him why he got it he said it looked cool.
Of course, I did put some thought into my tattoo’s design (a half music note half peace sign), understanding that it is a permanent form of expression that will be forever displayed on my body.
Back in the 60s and 70s, tattoos were part of a subculture used to express identity and adorned by mostly rock stars like The Rolling Stones and their fans or people in the military.
Nowadays, every man, woman and child seems to have a butterfly, Chinese symbol or tribal tattoo somewhere carved into their body.
People don’t even fully think through what they are putting on their skin; many don’t even know what their tattoo represents to them, let alone what it means if it is in another language.
I understand the Chinese character for wisdom, serenity, love, mystery, patience, etc. might look freaking cool, but what relevance does it have to everyone who has those tattoos? I think it would have been a much better choice for those people to have gotten a tattoo that reads, “I try too hard to fit in.”
Not only have younger generations been embracing the tattoo as a symbol for cool, celebrities are now getting inked like there’s no tomorrow.
It might have been when I first saw Amy Winehouse’s entire 90-pound body covered in tattoos or when every innocent pop star began getting inked that I knew this whole tattooing craze was out of control.
Okay, Angelina Jolie, everyone knows you are the greatest thing since sliced bread and that you adopt children from countries we’ve never heard of before, but tattooing the lines of longitude and latitude where your children were born on your shoulder seems a little strange.
Celebrities play a huge role in society because they help set the standard for what is considered cool.
Because so many people look up to them as role models, tattooing is becoming the “in” thing to do; with such a high number of people getting tattooed every day, it is losing its cultural significance.
People need to stop living on impulse and getting tattoos that mean absolutely nothing.
Something that was once considered almost taboo is now a mainstream obsession equated with irrelevant ideals of status and social belonging.
My advice to the world: think before you ink.