Tattoos have always been something that society is not ready to accept. The sight of tattoos brings the stereotype of uncleanliness, AIDS, someone from the wrong side of town or being someone who had been to prison. So the perfect way to test the norms of society and how they react to something deviant was to put on a fake tattoo. To make things more interesting, the fake tattoo was placed on the left side of my face. And I did not only walk around the neighborhood. I made sure that a lot people saw me and so I went to the movies with my friends on a Friday night.
It was kind of dark in the parking lot and so there was not much reaction from the people who were either getting out of or going back to their cars. But the moment I entered the mall to go the cinemas, I noticed people staring at me. Even if I was wearing normal clothes – a crew neck shirt, jeans and tennis shoes – the people still looked at me. From the corner of my eye, I could see people huddling and whispering while looking at me. I knew very well that they were looking at me. Things got worse when I noticed parents veering themselves and their children from my path.
As if the staring was not enough, when we got to the movie house, nobody wanted to sit beside me and my friends even if my friends did not have any tattoos at all. I tried hard to concentrate on the movie but I couldn’t. I was beginning to feel as if the tattoo on my face was real and I began feeling so bad. It was not as if the design was some gang symbol. In fact, I personally picked the design – a tribal design that translates to freedom – which was actually beautiful art. I could not understand why people would avoid me instead of asking me why I had a tattoo on my face or what it actually meant.
By the end of the night, while I was removing the sharpie-tattoo from my face, the entire exercise was an enlightenment for me, and not so much for this paper that I am writing. Any sign of difference or deviation from the norm is unacceptable or at least very much frowned upon. I did not expect the people to be friendly with me but neither did I expect that they would look at me with such disgust. I have searched the internet about tattoos and found out that it is not only those who were or are in prison that have tattoos. In fact many people get tattoos because they feel very spiritual with them or because something significant happened to them.
Tattoo is a form of art for many people. More importantly, if people would try to understand the meaning behind the tattoos, these art actually carry heartfelt stories. It took a long time before pierced ears were accepted. I may not live long enough to see that tattoos are no longer associated to crime or being dirty or being from the wrong neighborhood but I know somehow and someday, tattoo will be some sort of norm.