Practicing What I Preach; Why I have Tattoos When I Research Them:
I have heard this questions a lot of the years; “do you need tattoos to research them”.
Physically speaking, the answer could be very simple; “no”. You don’t NEED tattoos to research them, but they certainly do help in my opinion and I wouldn’t be without my tattoos.
One of the reasons for this, is the dream (talked about it in my first blog-post), that lies behind all my academic work. A world where people can just let people look how they want to, giving people freedom to be themselves and look how they wish to.
Building on that principle, I preach freedom of self-expression and for building a world where people shouldn’t be afraid and should be accepted regardless of looks/embodied identity. So if I was then afraid to get the tattoos I want, I would be going against my own dream and principle.
This does not mean that I only get tattoos to support my dream. I wanted tattoos most of my life and have always loved them (at least since I was 3 according to my mom). I would never get a tattoo merely to proof a point, though the idea has been tempting at times. But I shouldn’t be afraid of getting the tattoos I do want, no matter where they are on my body, because then I wouldn’t be holding up the torch for my own dream. I would instead be leaving it up to others. (though I do still think before I ink and try to be smart about it, feeling out societal opinion often).
Another reason why I feel having my tattoos is important to my work as a sociologist (as well as my career in the tattoo world), is based on an opinion of Erving Goffman from his book Stigma (1963). The idea basically builds on how you would research and understand a stigma or a stigmatized group. What Goffman proposes is that, sometimes to fully understand a stigma or a group carrying it, you need to participate in the stigmatized behavior and wear it yourself. Just as how you can never fully understand how it is to be blind, until you have tried getting through daily life without seeing.
In my career within the tattoo community, for example as a consultant or in my journalistic/reviewing work for MediaZink.com, my tattoos also show my commitment to the community, as well as my taste in tattoos and how into it I am. They basically become my business card to a small extent. So I often in this community, get more positive attention, the better and bigger my collection gets. Where as if I only had 3 tattoos like when I was 20, people wouldn’t really give me the same attention (ironically enough).
So this is some of the reasons why I practice what I preach and feel a need to do so, why I see my tattoos as an asset in my career instead of an obstacle. I hope these words have given you food for thought and that you enjoyed my insights.
Stay awesome people.