Many people have discussed the pros and cons of choosing tattoo art as a means of adorning the human form with both meaningless and meaningful symbols of conformity or rebellion, depending on the message conveyed. There are commonly discussed risks both social and physical associated with this practice, but there are other considerations that do not often make the obvious warning list.
Aside from disease risks associated with a tattoo from someone using dirty needles, potential infections, or unexpected skin reactions, there are other significant physical risks to the proud owner of a new design. These risks increase exponentially according to how unique, eye-catching, and meaningful the design is in the eye of the beholder. The location and pattern of a tattoo can prove to be a very good means to assist in identifying people in situations where they may not wish to be so well noticed. Certainly, there are a number of career paths and lifestyles which call for discretion and anonymity that can be compromised by having easily identifiable marks, which can disqualify or endanger people who might otherwise want to pursue these directions. If someone is implicated in criminal activity, a vivid tattoo can strengthen the testimony of a witness, whether they are mistaken or correct in their accounting of events.
For Christians, the Bible offers a warning against believers allowing themselves to be tattooed. Whether one cares to heed these Biblical warnings or not, most specific references such as these are mentioned to help us avoid the pain and suffering we will endure by taking the opposite direction. There is also the added irritation which eventually sets in with explaining the Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How of the decision, to a never-ending stream of those who are curious. A tattoo is like an advertising billboard beckoning the viewer to ask the owner for details. Do you want to talk about the same painting for the next 80 years? Human beings are primarily designed to function as creatures of change, whether they accept this innate quality of their nature or not. By nature, our desire for change does not tend to mix well over an extended period of time with things that are fixed and immutable; even art. As lifestyles change over the years, so do our tastes and desires for things of the past. Someone from the 1960′s who might have chosen a large peace symbol tattooed on their chest as a gesture of deep social comment, might find their statement labeling them as a goof in modern times, even among their own contemporaries.
As it is with so many of mankind’s contrived social activities intended as expressions of our creativity, the value of body art can best be put into perspective by employing the clarity that comes with hindsight. In my own encounters with those who have lived and died before me, I have never heard any dying person confess that they wished they had gone ahead and had that thing tattooed on their butt.
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