Institutionalizing Stigmas, Old and New:
For many, both in and outside of the tattoo community, it is pretty clear that to make the industry safe for everyone, some legislation is probably needed. In many countries around the world, like certain parts of the US, Canada, Sweden and others, positive steps are indeed being implemented, to make the industry safer.
However, as a sociologist I would like to address one fact. One needs to be careful when creating legislation regarding tattoos (as well as many other body related subjects, as a matter of fact). While creating legislation regarding the business side of tattooing, as well as the hygiene and safety aspects. May seem pretty straight forward, not easy to do, but more straight forward. Some rather more complicated issues arise, when trying to legislate the culture of tattooing.
Here I would like to use my own home country as an example. Denmark is one of the only countries in the world, to have a tattoo law that prohibits the tattooing of the face, hands and neck. Now this may seem harmless to some, especially since tattoo artists (because of the stigmas already surrounding such extremely visible tattoos), are already careful with who they tattoo in these areas. But creating such a prohibiting legislation regarding it, can have some unforeseen consequences.
Indeed, in Denmark and countries with similar or indeed harsher legislation regarding tattoo culture, such as South Korea and Japan. The legislation will, unintentionally to a large extent perhaps in Denmark, institutionalize the pre-existing stigma, regarding tattoos.
This means that the stigma surrounding tattoos becomes reinvigorated and has a stronger foundation to stand on and defend itself with, because of the legislation created. Thus fighting against such stigmatization becomes a lot more difficult, as the legislation in place gives people who are against tattooing, an excuse to rally behind. It can also create an unfair perception of individuals with tattoos, as it can end up criminalizing them to some extent, which also unfairly reproduces stigma.
In Denmark, this also has some rather unfortunate consequences, in regards to cultures within the Danish society, who have facial and hand tattoos, as a part of their cultural heritage. Such as the Inuit culture of Greenland. Such legislation effectively, outlaws part of their cultural heritage.
Another unfortunate victim, are people who utilize cosmetic tattooing (though special leeway is being given to such tattoos, in the newest law regarding tattoos in Denmark, it would seem). Where people, either because of personal preference or indeed to cover up a bodily trauma (medical tattooing). Might get permanent makeup done or tattooing done to cover up scars (also facial ones). These people will also so there personal preferences the right to govern their own bodies in this regard, outlawed by such legislation.
Therefore, as a sociologist specializing in Tattoos, I would wish that governments around the world, take culture and the individual more into consideration, when creating legislation regarding tattoos. We live in 2018 now, tattoos do not create bad people, they are merely an aesthetic choice, for the people that are into them.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post, as always stay awesome people!