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by Jennifer Brown Banks

Tattoos - Today's New Fashion Statement?

“16% of all adults in the United States have at least one tattoo.” ~Harris Interactive

It used to be a time when tattoos “branded” those of a certain social status or lifestyle. They were the trademarks of bikers, musical rappers, rebellious teens, and your garden-variety thug.

Not anymore.

Today, it’s not unusual to see body art adorned by everybody from white-collar professionals, to middle aged moms. In fact, an increasing number of people are choosing this popular procedure to express their individuality and make a fashion statement. Tattoos are no longer taboo! Some even view them as sexy and hot!

Tattooing, said to have been practiced by the Egyptians as early as 2000 B.C., is defined by Funk and Wagnalls as a method of decorating the skin by inserting colored substances under the surface.

A poll performed online between July 14 and 20, 2003(by Harris Interactive), found that 16% of all adults in the U.S. have at least one tattoo. Additionally, people living in the West (20%), were more likely to have them, and Democrats outnumbered Republicans. An equal percentage of males (16%) and females (15%) were wearers.

I conducted an informal survey of about 100 friends and acquaintances, and found that about 40% of them had tattoos ranging in number from 1 to 7. Most bearers said that they felt that tattoos were “sexy” and allowed them to uniquely distinguish themselves. Some confessed to having gotten them in an act of rebellion back in their adolescent years, and later adding on more.

Things to Consider
Many people don’t realize that tattoos are rather permanent and require a great deal of forethought. Things to mull over would be the size and strategic location of your tattoo. What design best reflects your personality? How many would you like? Should you choose a name or a symbol? Where should you go? How will your body art be viewed by potential employers if it is visible? How will you feel about your choice 10 years down the line?

As you can see, there is much to figure out! Be sure to think before you ink!

Depending upon the size of the tattoo, the style, the degree of difficulty, the tattoo artist, and the location, tattoos typically range anywhere from $70.00-300.00. Though some may cost more.

Health Issues
As with all procedures, tattooing carries a certain degree of risks. Infected needles and improper care can cause things like Hepatitis B, allergic reactions to pigment, and Keloid scarring.

Professional Repercussions
Though tattoos are gaining in popularity, there are still those that don’t view them favorably. Particularly employers in white-collar industries, or those with conservative clients. Case in point. I have a friend who snagged a good government job a few years ago, but had problems once his tattoos were revealed (as a result of warm weather and short shirt sleeves). He was asked to have his body art covered up or removed! Some employers even forbid them (along with body piercing), by way of dress code dictates.

Famous Celebrities
Tattoos and body art are worn by big stars like Vivica Foxx, 50 Cent., Mary J. Blige, Britney Spears and Eminem. Some of the most popular designs are roses, religious symbols, animals, and peoples’ names.

Additional Resources
For those wishing to learn more about this ancient art and emerging fashion statement, there is a book now available called “CHICK INK.”

One additional thing of note…. Many folks in their efforts to celebrate and acknowledge a partner who “rocks their world” will have a temporary lapse in judgment and have these individual’s names affixed to their bodies! Don’t be one of them! Unfortunately, relationships can sometimes be here today, gone tomorrow. And trust me, if/when that happens, the appeal of a tattoo that reads “I LOVE POOKIE” will fade much quicker than the ink!

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Jennifer's Gems is a weekly column written by award-winning poet and writer, Jennifer Brown Banks. It is published every Wednesday. Click here to read her welcome letter.

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