Don’t Judge the Book by Its Cover: A Story About Tattoos

by Patryk Wlodarczyk

Just like a sewing machine leaving threads in the fabric/material, a lifelong mark is being left on your skin. This is how the tattoo arises: slowly, partially and extremely precisely to create a visual imprint that will never be forgotten.

Tattoos are becoming more commonly seen in our society today and there is no longer an opinion that only tough prisoners could have them. Despite the growing popularity, people still tend to have mixed feeling about teenagers having these inky pictures. Some people think that they are self-expressive pieces of art while others portray them as rebellious, immature acts that one day will be regretted.

The results of an ASW survey about attitudes towards tattoos

As a person who has some tattoos on my body, I was curious about people’s opinions of them. Most of the students who responded to my e-mail survey tend to think that people should not be ashamed of having and showing their tattoos. They think that it is a kind of a way to express themselves sharing their life story to others and their passions. A couple of our ASW community mates have already some tattoos.

One such student is Evanna P. (grade 12). “Yes, I have a few tattoos,” said Evanna. “I got my first one at the age of 15 with the consent of my parents as they genuinely support my decisions regarding my own body. In my opinion, I have a stronger connection to someone with tattoos, because I feel what they have gone through than with someone who doesn’t.”

According to Jan Ż., also from the 12th grade, “I have one already and I think it depends on the type of the tattoo. Some people have tattoos they get just because they look pretty or that person wants to look really cool or impress their friends. If that’s their reason then that’s their business but personally, I think that tattoos need a bit more than that to be good, so people with the right tattoos I think of differently than those with tattoos I can’t see a lot of value in.”  

There are also some 10th graders who do not wish to have their name visible in this article who want to have some tattoos in near future and they support teenagers that have them. They think that they should not be covered unless they express something vulgar or offensive.

In general, I am totally for tattoos. Each work of art covering my body at this particular moment has its own meaning and history behind. As a whole, they create a complete history of some very important moments that I have gone through.

On the other hand, a lot of people have vulgar or offensive tattoos. Others have tattoos that are unprofessionally made and look “cheap”. Some people I spoke with explained their tattoos, not as a thought-through works of art, but as decisions made while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Others said they just wanted to prove something. Such people create general stereotypes that tattoos are associated with something bad.

ASW teachers’ opinions quite surprised me. I heard a lot of positive attitudes and comments about this topic. Both Mr. and Mrs. Cokerdem consider tattoos as a piece of art; they seem not to be against it, but there are some general aspects that they both agreed on. They are all very worried and concerned  about the age of when a teenager should have a tattoo or not and whether one is mature enough. Mrs. Cokerdem and Mr. Nieman also mentioned parental consent and a long enough waiting period as important parts of the decision to get a tattoo.

Most teachers say they do not change their attitude towards people who have tattoos. Mr. Munnerlyn said that he makes his judgement about people on more substantial evidence.

Nowadays, there are a lot more ways to easily erase the tattoo. The most popular is the laser method. I spoke with tattoo artist Alexandr Ivanovich, who described the process as really painful but efficient. Three laser erase sessions can remove about  98% of the tattoo and make it invisible to human eye. There is also a TCA method, using a Trichloroacetic acid that removes the top layer of the skin and reaches the level where the ink resides. Unfortunately, the scar remains and is very similar to the scar left after being burnt.

All these methods are very painful and the process of removing is very long so that people should make sure whether they truly want a tattoo. What is more, there are some temporary ones that stay on no more than 6 months. These are arranged for those who would like to make sure that this particular pattern is appealing for them. These are becoming very popular among teenagers, especially because they cost less than standard tattoos.


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