Although body tattoos were a common practice in many parts of the world, we can thank American sailors for bringing this craze to the United States.
Sailors returning from World War II told crazy stories of being drunk and not remembering getting the inscription “MOTHER” across their back or on their bicep.
Sailors displayed markings of the American flag, their sweetheart’s name, or nude women in a competition to prove their manliness.
Tattooing had been practiced for more than 6,000 years and has been traced back to the pharoahs of Egypt. The tattoos to the form of connected dot and lines which formed symbols by which the dead were recognized when they emerged in the afterlife. The tattoos were a symbol of status, generally being used only for royalty. This tradition would continue even in modern times in various cultures. In many current Polynesian cultures, a tribe chieftans are tattooed as they are elevated up the line of power until they become High Chief, where they tattoos can stretch from mid-chest all the way down to the knee (the word tattoo is derived from the Polynesian word “tatau”). In other cultures, tattooing the face or an entire body is seen as an artistic expression.
Tattooing made its way to the United States in the early 1940s ater the introduction of mechanical devices to place the ink within the skins. These devices made it faster and easier to apply the tattoo, offering the tattoo artist greater control and creativity.
Body Tattooing next became popular among the biker gangs in the 1950s and 1960s and markings of skull and crossbones, skeletons, and expressions such as “Born to Ride” and “Raise Hell” could be seen on many bikers bodies. These gangs added to the stigma of tattoos being seedy and sinful. It was not until the 1970’s that tattoos became more acceptable. The Age of Aquarius focused on positive symbols such as butterflies, hearts and smiley faces. They could be seen on all parts of the body – neck, shoulder, ankle, or chest.
The art of tattooing made a huge comeback in the 1990s, especially amongst women. For many women, getting tattooed represented a strong step in defiance against the concept that such was not ladylike. Rebelling against the rules of proper behavior was a strong statement of self-expression and created a whole new fashion look as women found new place to conceal (or reveal) their new statement (including the base of the spine which became extremely popular in the mid-1990s).
Tattoos are currently created by placing a needle with colored pigments in between the permanent base layer of your skin and the constantly changing top layer. They are removable these days with the use of lasers, but the procedure can be painful and is not always completely successful. As such, those who are seeking to take a walk on the wild side, but not permanent one are able to use temporary tattoos, which can last between a couples of hours or a couple of weeks. This “try before you buy” method is a wise choice when balanced against being shackled with a label for the rest of ones life.