I grew up with the notion that tattoos and piercings equated to “gangster” and “not lady-like.”
But is that really the case? During the Zhou Dynasty in China, tattoos were associated with barbarians, criminals, and bandits. Criminals would get the symbol “prisoner” on their faces as punishment. On the other hand, pre-colonized Filipino tribes used tattooing to show rank and accomplishments. In Paleolithic times, the Japanese considered tattoos to be spiritual and decorative, but that idea changed during the 17th and 18th centuries when tattoos were used to mark a manual laborer or prostitute. Check out the mostly reliable Wikipedia for more information.
It’s clear that history dances back and forth on the subject depending on space and time. But for today, has body art in the forms of tattoos and piercings become socially acceptable, specifically in the Asian American community?
The media is littered with tatted and pierced celebrities: Megan Fox, David Beckham, Angelina Jolie, Rihanna, Chris Carrabba, and even Miley Cyrus don inked and/or pierced bodies. In urban media and hipster blogs, Asians are also appearing tatted and pierced. Among my circle of Asian friends, quite a few are inked and most have non-traditional ear piercings. Are we entering an era where tattoos and piercings are no longer taboo? Or am I just in a liberal-early-20s bubble where non-conformists make up most of the community…
According to MSNBC, tattoos are seen less as a workplace barrier than before. Despite the falling economy in the past couple years, the tattoo business “is doing quite well.” At least a third of 18 to 40 year olds in America have a tattoo. What does this say about Asians who grew up with a traditional mindset about bodyart but were surrounded by colorfully inked people?
Hapa Fashion Blogger Keiko Lynn
Olivia Kim on Refinery 29