The Wonderous World Of Body Art

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate May 2001

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Introduction Years ago, many people would consider having a tattoo or other extreme types of body art unacceptable and even outrageous, but today body art can be found on many types of people including teachers, students, lawyers, and even doctors (Martz, N.Pg). While body art has reached almost epidemic proportions, it's history, types, and safety risks are all of interest to teenagers and parents alike.

Body To better understand why body art has become an epidemic, one must first understand it's history. Getting the lobes of the ear pierced dates all the way back to the Book of Genesis (Deas,14). This has been a part of Eastern and Western cultures since ancient times (Deas, 14). "It's impossible to tell how long tattooing has been done on the American continent."� In older times, most tattoos connected with ethnic identity and social status or roles. Although today, many purposes vary for getting a tattoo.

A very interesting reason for getting a tattoo actually served as a good purpose. Sailors often received tattoos to make their bodies identifiable and unique. This helped to identify the sailor's body if perhaps they went overboard and drown. In 1891, the first electric tattoo gun was created by Samual O'Reilly in New York. The gun was nicknamed the "tattaugraph."� The electric gun pricked at the skin at anywhere form 2000 to 3000 pricks per minute. This is very unbelievable considering that the manual gun only pricked about 120 pricks per minute. This was a huge relief for the person getting the tattoo, because the pain level was lowered an enormous amount (Martz, N.Pg).

Because body art has become extremely popular, different varieties and forms are catching the eye of the American society. "Branding, implants, and scarification are more extreme and dangerous types of body art that are slowly emerging"� say Myrna Armstrong in her interview with NEA Today. There are a few unusual types of body art, one of them is branding. This is the process of creating scars on the skin by putting hot metal on it. Another is the placing of metal or plastic pieces under the skin called implants. Scarification, also an unusual method of body art, is deeply cutting paterns in the skin. This makes a permenant scar. Tattooing is a very popular way to decorate the body. This is pricking pigment under the skin into any design. Tattooing is a VERY permenent picture on the body. Piercing, penetration of the skin with needle, is also common. The hole poked in the skin is then filled with special body jewelry to decorate the piercing. Having a tattoo or body piercing is very popular. 15-20% of students have one or the other (Armstrong, 34). Today many people have a tattoo or piercing (Martz, N.Pg.).

As many people are unaware, there are major health risks involved with body art. Age is a big issue for getting a tattoo or body piercing, and without parent consent, most places won't allow a minor to be tattooed or pierced. This leads minors to resort to flea markets, concerts, private houses, and other such places to get something done illegally and unsterile. This is a major contribution to infection (Armstrong, 34). There a small but growing number of reports of infection and soft tissue damage from body piercings. Some piercing complications include skin damage, infection, hepatitis B, and HIV. Even if you get something properly and profressionally done, it can still get infected it not properly cleaned or if it is constantly rubbed against clothing (, N.Pg). In some states, it is illegal to use a piercing gun to pierce something. This is because plastic piercing guns cannot be properly sterilized. Also, if a studio isn't licenced for piercing or tattooing, they are probably not doing something right (, N.Pg.). "One of the skin's key roles is to keep bacteria and other invaders out. If people choose to poke holes in it for jewelry, the should use practitioners who observe good technique and hygiene"� (Dr. Patricia A. Nolan, N.Pg.). The two most common complications with getting a tattoo is the risk of infection and allergic reactions. Transmission of diseases through getting a tattoo include Hepatitis B and HIV. Mostly Hepatitis B, but HIV is a slim risk also involved (Loomis, N.Pg.). The reason Hepatitis B is the most commonly transmitted is because it can survive on blood contaminated surfaces for months. This is why sterilization and cleanliness is so important when considering getting a tattoo (Armstrong, 34). Getting your ears pierced is probably the most common body art since it is allowed to be done to a person of any age. Ear piercing can cause a keloid, a fleshy tumor. A keloid is very itchy, but not life threatening. It isn't life threatening either. Another condition that can arrive from a piercing is chronic draining. This evolves from infections (Deas, 14).

Conclusion As you have been informed, there are many thrills and chills in the world of body art. Body art has become an epidemic in today's society including parts of history, variety, and safety risks. Although body art was very unacceptable just within' the last couple of decades, today it has grown to be one of the most fashionable and popular trends all across the world.