Adorning yourself with tattoos and piercings

With the raise of young people becoming more and more interested in body adornment of tattoos and piercings, The Zone spoke to a few professionals to find about this interesting form of art.

13 February 2018 | Education

Tunohole Mungoba

The word tattoo originates from the Tahitian word of ‘ta-tau’ which means to make a mark. The history of tattoo began thousands of years ago and is as diverse as the people who have them.

Today, tattooing is becoming more popular and accepted than it has ever been, especially with the youngsters of Namibia. Namibian tattoo artist, Plaiven Muanyangapo, says exposure to the internet and the globalisation of popular media has increased the interest of body modification.

So many cultural and social norms are being shifted daily. Information is available and the use of internet makes people notice tattoos and piercings more often even if you do not have friends or family members who have any tattoos, you notice it by scrolling through social media, flipping through magazines or watching a movie over the weekend. Exposure to this form of self-expression is what inspires young people to get work done,” he explains.

He adds that young people get tattoos for many reasons like aesthetic enhancement, signifying social status and marking major life milestones.

“It is true that some people who desperately want to change their appearances, whether with plastic surgery or extreme body modification, do it primarily because they would like to express their individuality. I feel like getting a tattoo should be an excepted form of self-expression as dyeing or cutting your hair, exercising, eating better or dressing,” he says.

He adds that tattoos are used to create a visual story that is meaningful to the person receiving the tattoo. “At the very least, tattoos may encourage people to ask you about the meaning behind your modifications and give you an opportunity to verbally share the personal narrative behind them, if you choose to do so.”

So how old should one be to get a piercing or tattoo? According to Muanyangapo, there is no legal age of consent for body piercing or tattoos, so it is legal for someone under the age of 18 to have a piercing or tattoo as long as they have consented to it.

What does Christianity say about body modifications? Ezron Kapolo, a Lutheran pastor says body modifications have been used to identify a lot of situations in the past. “Some nations do it for identification. In Africa, you identify a certain tribe by looking at their body modifications.” Kapolo also says that tattoos and piercings have meaning “so one has to be careful when drawing or engraving a symbol on yourself or on something public.” “I would not recommend people to do things they hardly understand. Symbolism is powerful, thus be careful to put on a symbol that promotes a certain agenda for instance Satanism.”

Kapolo tells The Zone that The Old Testament of the Bible prohibits piercing and tattoos, however the New Testament does not directly address the issue. “It does say your body is as like a temple of God, and that speaks volumes on how to treat your body. From a Christian perspective, the outward beauty should not replace our inner beauty. We ought to strive to be good people even when we are not attracting anyone.” Body modification from a professional point of view “Firstly, one needs to think about the commitment he or she will be making, whether or not you want to scar your body permanently and how that will make you feel for the rest of your life,” says Ruusa Shivolo, an Industrial Psychology masters’ student and a professional working in Human Resources. “The beauty of life is that it is unexpected and people change with their experiences, so what you believe at 18, might be different from when you are 30 or 60, thus you really have to consider the impact of a permanent modification.” Shivolo warns that professionalism in the corporate world is a serious matter and the stigma associated with tattoos and piercings can make it difficult for people to accept these modifications if you can see them on a daily basis. “One of the reasons why most people do not have tattoos or unusual piercings could be because of the fear that they may come across as unprofessional in the workplace. I believe most corporate organisations still prefer a conservative look to maintain a so called professional standard and any person that is different from that could potentially be viewed as unprofessional.” However she adds that other organisations such as the media industry may encourage diversity and are willing to accept people the way they are and could care less about the physical appearances and rather focus on the skills, qualifications and character of their employees. “So obviously, preferences to have body art may also depend on the type of profession one is in. Food industries for example may not even allow one to wear jewellery because of health and safety regulations,” Shivolo adds. “Overall, organisations need to have dress code policies in place to clearly stipulate how body art should be managed.” She further explains that with more millennials entering the workplace, one can tell that body art and self-expression is becoming more accepting as time progresses and the views of tattoos and piercings will slowly start to change. Shivolo advises young people to cover up your tattoos or piercings if you are going for a job interview, “because you do not know how some employers view body art and it can hinder one’s chances of getting a job.” “As an industrial psychology student I would encourage individuality and self-expression and not judge potential candidates based on their appearance before their skills and attributes however, one still needs to consider that many of the Namibians’ mind-set have not broadened and adapted enough to understand that one’s appearance is not reflective of their abilities and most organisations still view the conservative look as more professional.”

Top 10 facts on tattoos and piercings

1. Your skin is pierced 50 to 3000 times per minute by the tattoo machine when you get a tattoo.

2. The philosopher Confucius was against tattoos because he propagated that the human body is a gift. However, China’s stone sculptures depict men with tattoos on their faces as early as the 3rd century BC.

3. The most popular tattoo images are angels and hearts.

4. A tattoo is etched in the second layer of the skin, the dermis. The cells of the dermis are more stable than those of the epidermis.

5. ‘Tattoo’ is one of the most misspelled words in the English language. Want

6. Women are more likely to get their tattoos removed as compared to men.

7. Laser surgery is the most effective tattoo removal technique. Black is the easiest color to get rid off as it absorbs a greater number of laser waves. Green and yellow are the most difficult to remove.

8. Rocker Tommy Lee made a world record when he became the first man to be tattooed mid air in 2007. His name entered the Guinness Book of Records.

9. The professional must wash his or her hands directly before the procedure and must always wear a pair of fresh latex gloves.

10. After washing, twist the jewelry back and forth to ensure the cleanser gets underneath the piercing.

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