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No matter where you look, it seems like tattoos are everywhere. You'll see them on your hair stylist, tattoos designs appear on baby clothes and you can't open a celebrity magazine without seeing tons of them peeking out of both casual and formal clothing. So tattoos must be pretty well accepted, huh? Well.... that depends. Tattoos tend to much more acceptable as long as any tattoo taboos haven't been broken.
Taboos are strong inhibitions or tendencies against doing some sort of behavior. They can be very common in a social group (child abuse is taboo to LOTS of people) or they might only apply to a small subculture (Jehovah's Witnesses don't believe in blood transfusions). If we take a look at modern Western culture, only about forty or fifty years ago, just the idea of getting a tattoo was considered taboo for people who weren't criminals, sailors or rough biker types. However, the overall social pendulum has swung the other way and now getting a tattoo can be very commonplace.
In Western culture, the face, neck and hands are still areas which carry strong tattoo taboos. Most-often cited as "unprofessional," the idea of having permanent skin art that can't somehow be covered quickly and easily makes many people uncomfortable. Sometimes it's not just the placement but the art itself. Symbols with strong associations to hate and violence, like gang signs or the Nazi swastika, serve a dual purpose: they signify a simultaneous belonging (to some sort of gang) as well as a rejection (of society in general).
For a professional tattoo artist, there can sometimes be a fine line which must be walked. As much as they'd like to make a living, most artists do set boundaries for what they themselves feel comfortable tattooing and what they won't. Some artist choose not to tattoo certain designs, others might but only if they aren't going to be placed someplace which can't be covered. The face is probably the location which the greatest number of artists won't do a tattoo, but searching on the internet, it's clear that there are some artists who will tattoo a person's face. So if you walk into a tattoo shop and ask for a tattoo, and the artist refuses to do it, instead of stomping off to find someone else who will, you might want to stop and consider that you might be getting some really good advice and not just a rejection.
Content copyright © 2013 by Rae Schwarz. All rights reserved.
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