Tattoos have become far more common and widely accepted these days and more and more people are getting them. But, have you ever stopped to wonder why people get tattoos?
It is usually a personal decision and behind that decision is usually a very personal reason.
I can’t say I have come across many people who have not, at least once, considered getting or having a tattoo and while not every one does it, there are riveting stories behind the ones who do.
Before going any further, I want to clear one thing up. If a person has a tattoo, it does not necessarily mean they are a member of some gang (all though they may be) and it does not mean they are less intelligent than the person next to them who does not have a tattoo (although they may be).
It does not mean they are a bad person or that they are not good at their job. It does not mean that they make bad decisions, either. People with tattoos simply have a different way of expressing themselves than those who do not.
Every one of us is an individual with different feelings and motivations. We all have something unique to say that applies to only ourselves or something that is important to us. Tattoos are just another way of saying those things and telling our stories.
After speaking with a large amount of people who have tattoos, I realized that while each reason was personal, the majority of them seemed to fall into a few certain categories.
Today, I am going to share some of these reasons with you.
Tattoos In Remembrance
This category is high up on the list. Almost every person I spoke to who has them was either already sporting a tattoo in remembrance or was contemplating one.
These tattoos are usually specific to a loved one, be it a friend or family member, who has passed on. These tattoos vary from a simple symbol of representation, to your “RIP” with a date and a name, a short, meaningful poem or phrase, all the way to beautifully done, photo-replications of the person (or persons…and sometimes pets) who is no longer with us.
I like to think of the “In Remembrance” category as a way of representing (or should I say “honoring”) those who hold a dear place in our hearts while they can no longer be here with us on this Earth. It is a beautiful way of keeping them close and keeping their memories alive.
Behind these tattoos, is sometimes a lot of pain, sometimes a lot of joy in remembering, and almost always, a lot of love.
Tattoos of Celebration:
The “Tattoos of Celebration” category is such a fun category. The stories that were shared with me that fit into this category were both amazing and wonderful.
These tattoos are the ones that mark a special, happy and joyful event in the wearer’s life. They range from the date of a marriage or soul-mate encounter, to the birth of a child, be it son, daughter, niece, nephew, grandchild or godchild, all the way to the date of sobriety or a personal freedom of some sort.
You could call these tattoos “anniversary” tattoos, “birthday” tattoos or even “milestone” tattoos. Either way, their purpose is to mark the moment in time or date of a special event that, once again, is very meaningful to the person whose body displays it.
There is usually a lot of love behind this type of tattoo, as well as a lot of appreciation, joy and pride.
Tattoos of Proclamation
Proclamation tattoos are pretty easy to spot. These are the ones that make a quick and usually short, yet bold statement.
The person wearing this type of tattoo is most likely trying to make a statement of some sort. For example, “F.T.W.” which is pretty common, meaning “(insert F word here) The World”, has been explained to me as a few folks’ way of saying, “This is MY life and I do what I want!” or “I go my own way regardless of what other people think.”
There are tons of other types of Proclamation Tattoos, as well. Some people wear tattoos of their own names, simply proclaiming who they are. Some will display tattoos of their personal religion, club or group and yes, even gang…so that it will be know that they worship in a certain way or belong to where their personal devotion lies.
These types of tattoos , for the most part, are meant to make a statement. “I am who I am.” “I do what I do.” “I belong here or to this group, place or gang”. In short…”This is what I am.”
We certainly can’t leave out the “proclamation of love” in this category. Tattooed wedding bands on ring fingers, half-hearts that only become full when placed against another person’s mirrored tattoo, and the “I love (insert name here) tattoos of proclamation are heavily out there, too.
There is ordinarily a lot of pride or loyalty and devotion behind this sort of tattoo.
Tattoos of Inspiration
This category is one of my favorites. Tattoos of Inspiration are generally worn to Inspire either the person with the tattoo or the person who might see it.
Take, “Never Give Up”, for example. This tattoo is a small and simple phrase, yet it says so much. We have all had those days when we feel overwhelmed. This was one worn by a man who had been down on his luck. He put this on the inside of his wrist to remind him to keep pushing forward. It worked for him then and still does.
Whether it is to inspire the person who has the tattoo, the person seeing the tattoo, or both, these are generally positive messages that may even “click” and can sometimes make a difference in a person’s thought process.
Behind this type of tattoo, there is normally a bit of pain, a bit of perseverance, a bit of confidence and realization…along with the desire to share hope.
Above are only a few of my so-called “Categories” that I have used to help answer the question “Why do people get tattoos?”…however, there are many more reasons that we won’t dissect, such as:
“It’s a helicopter and so am I.”
“I just thought it looked cool.”
“All my friends got one.”
“I was really drunk and didn’t even know she did this to me.”
Wrapping this up, I can say this. All these categories are really sub-categories that can be combined into one big category. We all have a story. Actually, we all have MANY. Every tattoo wearing person I have spoken to has had them. These stories are, in general, not behind the lot of tattoos together. They are behind the single one they have or behind each and every multiple one of them.
Why do people get tattoos? It is to tell a story. Their own story. That is the real reason.
Some people tell stories with their voice. Some use a pen and paper. Some tell their stories through song or poem. Some wear their stories in intricate art for all the world to see.