Stigmas Against Tattoos

by ckeat1 on October 21, 2013 - 11:56pm

For my blog research assignment, I chose an article that had to do with the negative stigma of tattooing. Tattoo recipients have been looked at by many people in society as socially deviant because they are going against the norms by cosmetically adding to their natural body. Tattooing, according to this article, is seen as negative behavior and is done by non-conformists. The article indicates that individuals get tattoos for a number of reasons including religious self-expression and having a feeling of power over one’s self and reflect self-concept. Previous research, according to the article, has discovered several stereotypes about those with tattoos, including being unsuccessful in school, coming from broken homes, having an unhappy childhood, rarely attending church, having poor decision-making skills, and being an easy victim to peer pressure. The article also talks about how the tattooed population demonstrated significantly more impulsive and attention-seeking behavior than the non-tattooed population did. It was another belief that those who had tattoos also had a lower GPA than those who did not have tattoos. However, the Martin Stigma Against Tattoos Survey (MSATS), which was developed to assess social stigma against tattoos and was conducted among 210 undergraduates at a Southeastern regional university, shows that no significant differences were found in the GPA of tattooed versus non-tattooed college students.                                                                                                                                 

The main purpose of this article is to address the social conflict revolving around tattooed individuals and the stereotype society gives them. In society, people have this assumption, as stated above, that those who have tattoos are from broken homes or are delinquents. The non-tattooed person may act as though they are superior to the tattooed person because of the idea of permanently marking your body being frowned upon in society. These ‘deviants’ wish to go against the ‘normal’ ways of society and change something about themselves to make themselves more unique. While there is nothing wrong with that, a lot of people, mostly of the older-age, look down on individuals with body art.  


Martin, Benjamin A. & Dula, Chris S. "More Than Skin Deep: Perceptions of, and Stigma Against, Tattoos". College Student Journal, Vol. 44, Issue 1. March 2010.


This is a great post that I completely agree with. The norms of society are changing, and the profile that is matched to a person having tattoos is no longer the same. When walking down the street, one would not think that the guy with the sleeve tattoo would be on his way to church, or even a job interview. The student in school with visible tattoos would not be expected to have the best GPA, but would be seen as a “rebel” or someone just not focused on school in general. It is gratifying to know that the Martin Stigma Against Tattoos Survey has quantitative evidence to show that there is no relevance in a student’s GPA and whether or not that student has a tattoo. Although I can’t relate to this article because I have no tattoos, I can relate to the idea of having social conflict revolving around physical appearance. While there are some with tattoos that do fit the “delinquent” portrayal society gives, the ones that are an exception to this shouldn’t feel as if those without tattoos are looking down on them. I would like to see you take this a step further by looking into jobs that find tattoos a problem. A tattoo does not define who a person is, so they shouldn’t define a person’s work ethic.

This article attracted my attention due to the fact that I have two tattoos myself. I believe that when it is your body no one else has a right to say or advise what is put on it or in it such as piercing which are very similar when looked upon by society. It is true that the older generations have frowned upon tattoos and piercings but it isn’t there bodies now is it?? It is sad to say that people do stereotype many people who have tattoos as stated in the comments and in the article but there could be great meanings behind a person’s tattoos. We have been taught since kindergarten that we should not judge a book by its cover but it happens anyways. Society is complex and challenging by the least but judging people isn’t the best way to go through it. Even if it might be tough to not stereotype or judge someone but you will never know what another person has gone through till you have been in their shoes.

Wow! This is an extremely bias research topic. I think it is very interesting how the researchers wrote in such a negative light about tattooing and even went so far as to stereotype the culture as a whole. It is very interesting that people who get tattoos are seen as “non-conformists” because I know a very large population of successful adults who have tattoos but also hold high powers of authority in their job and are socially and economically dependent. Also, where I am from there is a difference between having a small inconspicuous tattoo and having an entire sleeve of tattoos, but the article seemed to really put both of these candidates under the same label. Although proven inaccurate, it is incredible how people with tattoos were believed to have lower GPA’s then those without. It is interesting and very true that the stigma of tattoos is seen in a negative light and that people are immediately categorized into this particular social deviant category.

This article and the way you have presented it, is interesting. I think that tattoos are a form of art and also one's way of expression them self in the same way as they chose to dress. Usually when someone gets a tattoos it is generally after an important event in their life, and there for is extremely important to that person. So judging without knowing someone's story is simply plain wrong. As the comment by nmorg3 says the article is biased against tattoos and depicts tattoo wearer as being rebellious and less successful, which is false since tattoos is simply an extension of one's expression.

I chose to respond to this article because I agree that there is a lot of negative social stigma against people with tattoos even if it is becoming more socially acceptable. I was raised in a household where any tattoos or piercings are completely forbidden no matter where or what they may be. I was always taught that you should never mark up your body for any reason because people could get the wrong impression of you and it is just not right to deface your body. My mom has always hated the idea of tattoos and I think that if someone she knows was to get a tattoo, her opinion of them may change a little and she would disapprove of it. In the city that I live in, almost all of my friends have tattoos and it isn't really seen to be a bad thing as long as they aren’t really big and in a place that they can’t be covered. Obviously in the job market it is usually easier for someone without visible tattoos and piercings to get a job, but in my opinion it is becoming more and more socially acceptable to have tattoos than it used to be years ago. You did a very nice job summarizing your article and giving your thoughts on it.

I am a huge fan of tattoos. To me, they are a major art form and a form of self-expression, not a form of social deviance. I have tattoo ideas I’d love to get done, but I can’t, because tattoos are regularly frowned upon in hospitals where I plan to work. Although they are becoming more socially acceptable these days, I feel it will be too long of a time before they become accepted enough for the workplace. I also hope that one day I’ll be able to walk around in public with my tattoos and not get scared stares from older generations, since I hope to have many readily visible ones.

This is an interesting topic as it seems like more and more people are choosing to get tattoos now a days. Humans are very judgmental and always search for characteristics to judge. Tattoos are an easy target for many simply for the reason that they are permanent and unique to the individual (people tend to judge characteristics that differ from themselves). I am familiar with several of the stigmas mentioned in this article review. Even in my own family of “old-school” conservative Italians there were arguments over my cousins getting tattooed. Just recently my brother put a temporary tattoo on to fool my nonna and spark a rather humorous conversation on why tattoos are bad. She fell for it and immediately went off on a tangent on how tattoos make people look cheap and how my brother would never get a job with this tattoo. The tattoo he put on was a Bills football on his upper arm about the size of a silver dollar coin. It was humorous that this small fake tattoo was able to cause such a large argument with my nonna. Not hiring someone because of a tattoo is foolish. People should always be hired based on their qualifications and not their appearance. The only time it is reasonable for a tattoo to impair certain job opportunities is if it is an obscenity that cannot be hidden or something that could be offensive to the people directly related to that job field. I understand why a senior home wouldn’t want an employee to have tattoos on their face or any profane tattoos on hands or wrists as these would be seen and could be offensive to the people being cared for. Though people with tattoos don’t necessarily deserve all the negative stigma, they should be aware of the tattoos they choose to get and be wise with the images or words they wish to have permanently on their body. Tattoos are a work of art and individuals should be able to freely express their own style without the fear of being ridiculed.

I personally love the thought of tattoos and showing your unique tastes the way you want to and I find it interesting that the research done was biased but I can understand someone’s viewpoint on why it could be considered "unnatural" and frowned upon. I feel times have changed and views on body modification are more accepting and out in the open compared to 15 years ago for example. A tattoo is art to people and putting that down or claiming it wrong is not fair to those who even have a meaning behind the ink. Just because someone’s viewpoints are different than yours doesn't mean they can be put down and categorized into groups that have nothing to do with the decision to get a tattoo in the first place.

This article caught my attention because I found it very interesting that the authors made such absurd assumptions toward people with tattoos. I have grown up in a family with two different viewpoints on tattoos. My mom is accepting of the idea of tattoos, as my dad is not crazy about them at all. My mom understands that tattoos can serve as a form of self-expression, and art, as my dad sees it as disrespecting one’s body. I can understand how people, like my dad, frown upon tattoos. Some people take advantage of tattoos, and go ink crazy. I believe it is completely unfair to turn one down from a job simply for having tattoos. One should not be hired based on looks, but instead qualifications. In my opinion if you are going to put something permanent on your body that can be covered and is meaningful, why not? Although tattoos may be becoming more socially acceptable, aspiring nurses like myself have to be careful with tattoos. Those in the medical field are supposed to be very professional, clean cut and trustworthy. For whatever reason some people don’t believe those with tattoos can be trusted because it is against a norm to be inked. I think people who judge tattoos simply don’t understand them. My mom has two very meaningful tattoos and works management in a mental health field. She is a happy, independent, and intelligent woman who is extremely successful and professional, therefore I do not view tattoos as a symbol of lack of success. I found it ludicrous that the assumption was made that those with tattoos have lower GPAs. I am a student who graduated cum laude in high school, am doing well in college, and yet I have a tattoo. When I decided to get my tattoo I had to take many things into consideration, including meaning, size, location and the backlash I may receive from it. We humans are judgmental towards many things in life, almost searching for individualities to pick at. Hopefully one day people will be able to express themselves through tattoos without having to be concerned about the consequences they may have to face.

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