8 Facts You Definitely Didn’t Know About Tattoos

Tattoos have been around since pretty much the beginning of time. Ancient European civilizations had them, as did Africans, pacific islanders, and Native Americans. The earliest evidence of tattoos actually came from female mummies in Egypt.

Getting inked is a perfect way to express your own individualism. Tattoos can be a way to commemorate important events or people in your life. They can be expression of things that you love or are passionate about.

Just a couple of generations ago, tattoos held negative connotations. It was widely held that tattoos were only for rebels or degenerates. These days, you’d be hard-pressed to find many young people without at least one, or who isn’t considering getting one in the future. They are less indicative of your outlaw status, and more just a peek into who you are.

The choice to get body art should not be made lightly. Research your artist and remember that you get what you pay for. Tattoos are wonderful when done well. If you are contemplating having work, these 8 interesting facts about tatoos might help you make up your mind. Even if you aren’t, keep reading, you might find them fascinating as well.

1. Tats haven’t always been legal

You can drive through just about any town in America these days and find at least one tattoo parlor. Bigger cities might have one on every corner. But, it wasn’t always this way. In the 1960s, Many people were extremely cautious due to large amounts of hepatitis outbreaks. In fact, between 1961 and 1997, it was actually illegal to be tattooed in New York City. This made artists and clients resort to “back alley“ or “underground“ operations. I can’t imagine that did much for safety, because it eliminated the inspections by the health department that all businesses are subjected to. Massachusetts banned tattooing up until the year 2000. Breaking this law was met with stiff penalties, including jail time. These days, tattoos are legal in all 50 states, with varying laws concerning minors. Some require only parental permission for underage kids, while others will not allow tattoos on any person under 18.

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2. Henna

While traditional tattoos are forever, some people might opt for a less permanent version using henna instead. Much like the temporary tatoos we all loved as children, but much more grown up, Henna tatoos can be a fun way to express yourself. Hannah is derived from plants, and his light orange in color, then darkens over time. This dye has been around for thousands of years, used for hair coloring and beautifully designed skin markings. Black Henna should be avoided, as it contains synthetic ingredients that can cause reactions that leave permanent scars. Some even contain carcinogens that can cause leukemia. Seems that sticking with the traditional orange is the best bet.

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3. Macy’s

The famous department store, Macy’s, opened its first store in 1858 in New York City. It is well known for the huge parade each thanksgiving.

The logo for this iconic store is a simple red star. Recognizable anywhere in the world. What most people don’t know is that the star was inspired by a ratio that founder R.H. Macy had on his forearm. He got the tattoo when he was a young man working on a whaling ship. Hard to believe a well to do business man had such a rough and hard beginning. He achieved the American dream, and his tatoo is immortalized forever with every ad and storefront bearing its likeness.

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4. Tattoo Urban Legends

Tatoos seem to come with lots of tall tales and urban legends. They seem to be weaved into all sorts of stories, which proves how influential and taboo that can be. There is one story that has been going around for many years about beloved children’s show host, Fred Rogers. I’m sure you’ve heard it. He was supposedly a former Navy SEAL sniper, and his affinity for sweaters was only to hide that he was heavily tattooed. Truth is, his mother knitted the sweaters for him, and he just loved them. He was pretty much the sweetest person ever, tatoos or not.

5. Tatoos for pay

It’s not secret that some people will do anything for a buck. This is even true of getting inked. Companies that are always trying to find new ways of advertising take advantage of this fact and actually have paid individuals to have their company logo tattooed on their bodies. There was a real estate agency in New York City, called rapid realty that made an offer to their employees in 2013. The offer was a 15% pay raise if they were to get a tattoo of the company logo somewhere on their body. Dozens did so. How could they refuse? An amateur boxer in Alaska has over two dozen corporate tatoos, even on his face. Some of the tats he sports are for Liberty Tax Service, Host Gator, and more than a few porn sites. A man named Dave Ryder once had some company tatoos done in order to raise money for his friend’s little boy, who was very sick with menengitis. What a great story!

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6. Vegan Ink

Vegans must be vigilant in researching every food they consume. They have a hard time finding things to eat in restaurants, especially in small towns. Ethical vegans not only refuse animal food products, but any product that is made using animals in any way. No leather or using cosmetics tested on animals. This also means they have to be choosy about tattoos. Vegan tattoo establishments actually exist, though not too many. The reason they are needed for the vegan community is not only because some ink is made with charred animal bones or shellac beetle resin, it sometimes soaps and ointments can even contain animal derived substances.

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7. Gang and prison Tattoos

While the decision to get a tattoo should not be made on a whim, it does happen that way sometimes. I’m sure there are millions of people walking around with ink they don’t even remember getting. Sometimes people don’t think it through and end up with something that is meaningless.

Then there are gang and prison tats. The tattoos that gang members get to show they are part of the “family.” They let enemies know where their loyalty lies. They are often fraught with symbolism. One particular group, the Japanese Yakuza, have been using tattoos for hundreds of years. They are known for full body ink called irezumi. These tattoos are applied in the traditional way, no electric guns are used for them. One single needle and lots of time and money spent.

In prisons, tattooing is forbidden, but it happens anyway. They utilize anything they can to get ink. They use pens, paper clips, or whatever else they can find. Different groups are known for different symbols. For example, members or the Aryan race often get spiderwebs or shamrocks.

8. Tramp stamps and impending motherhood

Many women get tattoos put on their lower backs, and these are sometimes known as “tramp stamps.” I don’t agree with the name, as I have one myself, but some people insist on being mean. There is some concern with these tattoos when it comes to pregnant women going into labor. This is because that spot is where the needle needs to go in during an epidural, a method of pain management used during labor. The ink from the tat can get into the spinal cord if it’s fresh. They don’t even like to take the chance on an older tattoo, sometimes. Another concern is the reaction that can happen and cause burns during an MRI.

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