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Tattoos have become more prevalent in our society over the last few decades. What used to be a social faux pa or a negative brand has come to be a more acceptable life choice in our culture. However, only those who have joined the inked-up club can describe the sensation of modifying one’s body with art. From the pain and tantric feeling from the stinging that is released as a person allows themselves to be marked for the rest of their life, and the hot pierce of the needle that gives a sensation of feeling alive and the desire to do this again.
Tattoos have become a major social focus today, so the psychology behind their popularity warrants discussion. Ultimately, people who get tattoos yearn for individual expression through artwork, acceptance or adherence to some rite of passage, and the physical satisfaction that only the experience of tattooing can provide.Many of us crave tattoos because we desire to define ourselves as unique individuals.
There are different reasons as to why tattoo artwork accomplishes this. For many, low self esteem is the driving emotion that lands a person in the tattoo parlor. Shelley Twyman confirms this idea, stating that many people feel better about their self image after engaging in a type of alteration of the body.
In actuality, Shelley’s research measured the self esteem of tattooed individuals as on par with those who didn’t have one, after the alteration. Additionally, body art is often used to express the belief or views of the individual.
For example, Margo DeMello argues in Body Art, Deviance, and American College Students, quoted by Myrna Armstrong et al, that some tattooed individuals see themselves as if they are some kind of substitute for a personal philosophy (152). Myrna Armstrong references the social study work done by Michael Atkinson, from McMaster University, in an interview he had with a tattoo shop owner, who describes his experience with a kid who wears Harley-Davidson tattoos all over his arms to prove how much of a rebel he is, even though he drives a brand new Honda motorcycle (qtd. in Armstrong, et al. 152). As ridiculous as this sounds, this person’s body reveals what he believes about himself, or at least what he wants to believe about himself. Finally, there is the interesting fact was the reason most military recruits gave (seventy-six percent according to the article): the common quote gave by the recruits was be myself, I don’t need to impress people anymore (Armstrong, et al College Tattoos: More Than Skin Deep 318). In the same regard she mentions a common response from all of the college students, as forty-eight percent of them just wanted one (318). These statements simply show us that very little thought is required to know that we are, somehow, supposed to be different. There is no doubt that the desire for many people to express individualism, by way of body art, is powerful indeed. (Paragraph by Nicholas Porter)Receiving tattoos indeed has a personal mystique and is connected to our desire to explore how we fit in this world. Yes, we live in a world where people have a desire to stand out as individuals, however, we also have a sense of belonging amongst our peers, involving a broader range of social classes (Demello).
Tattoos have existed in different cultures for centuries, from ancient tribes to modern everyday people in the 21st century, for various reasons and motives. According to [first name] Jeffreys, [give some info. about this author], personal affiliations to cultures and their spirituality are reasons for tattooing (pg. #). Moreover, Polynesian peoples believe that a person’s mana, their spiritual power of life force, is displayed through their tattoo (CITATION). In today’s society, people have a passion and desire for tattoos because of the growing popularity they have built. Tattooing has become a common trend that has no indication of diminishing anytime soon. The define meaning for the artistry that tattoos represent were once all about tradition, they always possessed a very specific meaning for the particular culture (Gritton). REREAD OUT LOUD. The traditional and cultural aspects of tattooing represent a long and storied history that will most definitely transcend for years to come.
The allure and desire for pain and modifications from tattoos have certain psychological effects that we crave. The heart pounding drive for adrenaline, the relieving release of endorphins, and the act of enduring pain constitute psychological effects of why we crave tattoos. According to the article 15 Reasons Someone Could Become Addicted to Tattoos, feeding adrenaline can create a certain addiction to tattoos alone. After all, according to the author, the sympathetic nervous system, the part responsible for triggering the fight-or-flight response, produces adrenaline as a person is being tattooed. Meaning adrenaline gets released into the human body to give it that rush so much desired by that little Adrenaline Junkie in all of us. In order to keep that level of arousal from the tattoos, people have to keep going back for more, thus prompting high risk situations with the hopes of stimulating the release of adrenaline (15 Reasons) from nothing more than a needle and some ink. Endorphins are another way to hook people on tattoos. In Advances in Consumer Research (volume 25) there is a section called The Tattoo Renaissance: An Ethnographic Account of Symbolic Consumer Behavior that says [other informants] satisfaction with their tattoos in the context of something spiritual, a real buzz, or a natural high as support to adrenaline and endorphins effects.
This is referring to the natural pain relief that the body gives off when encountering pain such as getting a tattoo. Being produced in the renal glands, endorphins flood the body directly from the brain, thus creating the natural pain reliever itself (15 Reasons). Thus, endorphins can create an addiction from the greater desire for that natural high they give off. Pain is the primary driving force of an endorphin and/or adrenaline rush, but yet there is still something about the self-mutilation and pain tolerance that’s involved in getting tattoos to make it so addicting. There may be a certain fix to get through stress that having the ability to control the pain ,inflicted upon oneself, may give. Giving some a therapeutical way to use pain to get rid of emotional and/or mental stress (15 Reasons). Overall, tattoos can be addicting, just as one artist suggested: humans are very addictive creatures and tattoo art seems to be addictive to many people (qtd in Velliquette, et al. 464). (Paragraph by Matthew Ashcroft)As we have seen, those who get tattoos do so in order to have one’s own mark of individuality, obtain a cultural mark or fulfill a desire to belong to a cohesive unit, and to experience the mental and physical conditions surrounding getting tattooed.
In the past, our society has identified those who get tattoos as barbaric and those who choose to do so get discriminated against. But more recently, tattoos have become more widely accepted and recieved as a way to reflect the personality and attitude of those bearing them. For these reasons, more people have become susceptible and excited to get tattoos and to experience, even enjoy, the addictive nature associated with them. Whether it is to remember the past or to show one’s allegiance, all tattoos have significance to those bearing them. Tattoos have established a new set of parameters within it’s own subculture, and many different works and styles are being created from newer ideas and sources.
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