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Rock Street, San Francisco
Rock Street, San Francisco

Andre Martin’s essay, “On Teenagers and Tattoos” discusses the cons of tattoos and piercings on teenagers. Although valid points are made, he views tattoos as a whole, as mutilations and cries for attention. He addresses how tattoos are a form of identity and ownership, as well as a permanent marking upon the body. The individual is in complete control and it gives teenagers the sense of stability that they long for. While valid points, Martin seems to look past the reason why a majority of adolescents get tattoos: for the enjoyment of them.

Tattoos can often tell a lot about someone. They are permanent and can create an everlasting bond between the art and the individual getting it. Throughout, Martin discusses the psychological reasons for why teenagers get tattoos and piercings. However, he not once mentions that many adolescents get tattoos because they like them. I agree with his reasoning to an extent. I do believe many people get tattoos of meaningful past experiences or hardships, and that some get tattoos and piercings as a way to better stand out.

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However, I also believe that teenagers get tattoos because they enjoy the artwork. Many of the most beautiful tattoos I have ever seen have been of various scenes, pictures or murals, most not having any specific connection to their past. Although some tattoos can later be known as poor choices, many are beautiful. I have five tattoos, and got the first when I was 16. Out of the five, only two are meaningful, one of which I regret and am currently in the process of receiving laser treatment for.

The other three are the largest of the five, and have no specific correlation to my past. Soon I will be starting a back piece in which also will have no specific meaning to me, but certain things throughout the piece will be incorporated in. Body art is a way of expressing oneself. They are a form of identity and uniqueness that are permanently with the individual. Furthermore, with that permanence come Martin’s thoughts on tattoos and piercings being forms of mutilation. In the dictionary, the word “Mutilate” is defined as “injure[ing] by depriving of or harming a part. Tattoos and piercings should not be viewed as mutilations as they are not directly harming to oneself, although the process of getting one is often painful. The markings are placed upon the individuals body with full consent and willingness, and are not professionally done without being eighteen or older. Underage tattooing is on a completely different level then professional tattoos. They are usually spurred of the moment with no thought, personalization or meaning put into it.

In most cases, professional done pieces take thought and much consideration, because appointments are made with the artist to plan the idea out beforehand. Tattoos are permanent, therefore planning them out before getting them can allow for a regret free tattoo. The effects of them are only obvious; one will have them, generally, for the rest of their life. Most piercings can close completely when taken out later. Tattoos, on the other hand hold a much greater promise of permanence. They can be laser treated off; however it is both painful and costly, usually at least double of the tattoo itself.

In support of Martin’s reasoning, the tattoo I am having laser treated is my smallest one and was done spur of the moment. There was no thought or consideration, as it was more of a getting a tattoo for the sake of getting a tattoo. Through and through, because of Martin’s profession as a psychiatrist, he tends to over analyze the reasons behind teenagers and body art. Although some of his reasoning I have agreed with, he seems to over look the fact that people get tattoos for the pure enjoyment of them.

The possibilities are endless and you can have many different pieces of art, or bigger, largely incorporated artwork. Either or, the thought and meaning behind certain tattoos is always with that individual for the rest of their life. With the exception of one, I love my tattoos. They are a part of who I have become as an individual and without them I would honestly feel incomplete. My body art gives me a sense of identity that not another person can experience exactly, as tattoos are unique and personalized. I believe people are too quick to pass judgment on individuals with tattoos and piercings.

I have five tattoos and am getting my back piece started within the month, when people see them sometimes, I get very dirty looks. Especially from older individuals, who grew up not having tattoos be as wide and common as they are today. However, if they knew that I was a full time student, with two jobs, that supports my younger brother, I guarantee they would think a little bit differently. Finally, overall I disagree with Martin’s stance on teenagers and tattoos. I think that he looks too deep for an answer as oppose to just staying on the surface and admiring this beautiful artwork.

Tattoos do not harm anyone and only affect the individual receiving them. I have many friends that are covered in body art and they are some of the best people I have ever meant. Tattoos are not meant to be for everyone, it takes both a strong and bold person to get something that will last forever. Why try to fit in if you are best at standing out? Any good tattoo artist will tell you that tattoo machines should be referred to as “machines” and not “guns” for one important reason: guns are meant to hurt people, while machines create artwork.

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