Tattoos have been symbols of self-expression and cultural significance for thousands of years. From the most intricate, elegant and detailed tattoos to the smallest, minute and most discreet markings– every tattoo has a meaning behind it and those meanings are just as varied as the people who get them.
Many people view tattoos as a way to celebrate the permanence of their individuality and use their bodies as a canvas to express themselves to the world. Others choose to use their body canvas to memorialize loved ones and keep them close to them always. Then there are people who choose to get a tattoo as a reminder of inspirational things or messages they have come across in life.
Generally speaking, most tattoos wouldn’t have much meaning to anyone else besides the person who has them upon their skin, which makes them special, sacred things they can choose to share with other people or an intimate secret they can keep to themselves.
How long have tattoos been around anyway?
For about 5,000 years – at least. In the early 1990s, scientists in Austria discovered the body of an “Iceman” who bore tattoos upon his mummified skin. His remains were carbon-dated and proved to be 5,200 years old. The Iceman’s tattoos were a series of dots and crosses along his spine and various joints in his body, suggesting to the scientists that there may be a medical reason behind them.
Egyptian women were big fans of tattoos as well. Female mummies dating back to 3,000 BC were found with tattooed markings on their bodies.
Why did the ancient people get tattoos?
In ancient times, tattoos may have served more practical purposes than they do today. Usually, they were to mark a person for a certain reason. For example, it is believed that the tattooed mummies found in Egypt were prostitutes or women of a similar status and adorned their bodies with markings to make themselves more appealing.
Some cultures would tattoo their skilled trades on their skin to show the world the kind of work they could do – like a weaver, farmer, cook or medicine person. Tattoos were also important in identifying someone as belonging to a certain social group, tribe or community. Tattoos were also used as a form of punishment in certain cultures as well – like among Native American tribes who would tattoo the faces of some of their hostages and medieval times when people convicted of certain crimes were branded using various tattoos to reflect what they had been accused of.
The New Age of Tattooing
Tattoos are becoming increasingly popular today in just about every age group, social status and ethnic group across the board. You will see older people sporting tattoos, younger people getting new ink, doctors, lawyers, teachers – and sometimes preachers!
Traditionally in western cultures, having tattoos was frowned upon. This is because tattoos have long been associated with gangs and other criminal elements because it’s not something “decent people” would do.
Tattooed people used to be “scary”. Society used to associate tattoos with being a “bad person that is into bad things” so obviously you wouldn’t ever want to have one, right?
Oh, how times have changed!
Tattoos have become an art form that people of all socio-economic backgrounds can appreciate. With this newfound appreciation for the art, people have become more comfortable expressing themselves upon their skin because the popular opinion of tattoos has changed to one of appreciation instead of condemnation.
Sure, there are still some people who will forever be against tattoos – especially the religious folks. There will always be people who swear they will never get one and there will absolutely always be people who will judge others by their ink. Thankfully, the people who can appreciate the artistry that goes in to creating a tattoo are creating a safer place in the world for people to showcase their individuality using tattoos.
Women and Tattoos
Traditionally, women didn’t get tattoos because tattoos were viewed as a masculine thing. Conversely, any woman who did have tattoos must be of questionable character because popular opinion dictated that no “decent woman” would have them.
Again – oh, how times have changed!
Lots of women have jumped on the tattoo bandwagon and have begun getting their own bits of ink art. Women tend to be a bit more sentimental with their tattoos, opting for symbols that have some sort of personal meaning for them. Aside from getting tattoos on their bodies, some women also get their cosmetics tattooed on for a permanent effect. Hey, that still counts as a tattoo, right?
A bit of research has been on the subject of tattoos and the results may be surprising. A study conducted on various panels of tattooed people reported the following findings:
· 15% of American men and 13% of American women have tattoos.
· 69% of people polled said tattoos do not change their opinions of people.
· 32% of people who have tattoos reported that they are “addicted” to ink.
· 49% of people polled reported the reputation of the tattoo artist or parlor is a major factor in deciding where to get their first/next tattoo.
· 31% said they think their tattoos make them sexier while 29% said their tattoos make them more deviant.
· The average cost of getting a tattoo is about $125 per hour.
· 35% of the 30-39 age bracket in the UK have tattoos.
· 30% of the 40s crowd reported having tattoos while just 11% of those 50 and older do.
· A whopping 58% of women have tattoos, according to these studies. On a side note, women also reported regretting a tattoo more of then than men.
· 72% of adults polled said their tattoos are hidden under clothing.
· Italy is the country with the highest percentage of tattooed folks, with 48% of Italians reporting having tattoos. Sweden was number two with 47% while the US ranked third at 46%.
· The military, oddly enough, is the industry that reported the highest percentage of tattooed employees. Also, 76% of employees said they think having tattoos hurts a person’s chances of landing a job – but 73% of employers polled said they would hire someone with tattoos.
Tattoo Placement For Women
There are three big decisions a person needs to make before getting a tattoo:
1. Which tattoo they want to get
2. Who they trust to give them the tattoo
3. Where they want to put the tattoo
When it comes to tattoo placement, women tend to be more creative than men. Guys tend to stick with the commonly tattooed parts like arms, chest and back while women usually opt for more demure and feminine tattoo placement like behind the ear or on top of the foot. Here’s a look at some of the common body areas women choose for their tattoo placement and the potential reasons behind their choices.
Behind the ear
Tattoos behind the ear are a popular tattoo choice for women. They’re dainty, girly and can be easily hidden if you have long hair. Some common designs for behind the ear tattoo placement are stars, hearts or tiny flowers.
Inner wrist tattoo placement is another great choice for women who want a tattoo, but also want the option of covering it up if need be. Single words and small symbols are good options for inner wrist tattoos and look quite classy once applied. They can be covered up at any time using bracelets or jewelry, which makes them a versatile choice.
Ankle tattoo placement is another great girly option for women. It is a great spot for small designs or symbols which can be shown off in a pair of sandals or easily covered up with pants or socks.
Like ankle tattoos, feet tattoos are another dainty option for women. They look great in the summertime while wearing sandals or any time that you go barefoot – but can be covered up with shoes and socks, too.
Lower back tattoos are popular, but aren’t a great choice for someone who wants the ability to cover them up. If you’re trying to hide them and your shirt rides up in the back while you’re sitting, everyone is going to know your business so keep that in mind if you get one. On the other hand, lower back tattoos can extend all the way up the back and vice versa – making for a large canvas where some gorgeously intricate designs can be placed.
Finger tattoo placement are a nice choice if you are going for the bohemian free spirit vibe with your tattoos. They can be made to resemble rings or they can extend down the fingers to accommodate larger designs. Tattoos on the sides on fingers are also popular because they aren’t terribly noticeable to anyone else and are very unique as well.
Shoulder tattoos can be a sexy surprise while wearing tops and dresses with low cut or exposed backs. There is ample space for larger designs, but are also a nice place for smaller designs as well. Some women opt to have elegant designs that encompass both shoulders and include the space in between as well. These types of tattoos are more for other people than the person who has them because they aren’t visible to the person bearing them.
Collarbone tattoos make bold statements, regardless of their design. Usually women opt to have words of some sort or a special verse tattooed in this area. Names are a popular choice for collarbone tattoos as well. This is another location where tattoos can be covered up, if need be such as for work or other such settings.
Up the ribcage is a creative place for larger tattoos – especially those that incorporate verses, quotes or other types of words. They make a bold statement when exposed, but are positioned so that they are easily hidden as well.
The top front of the ribcage is another awesome place for tattoo placement. These tattoos look fantastic when a wide, scrolling design is used in the area and can be showcased
Nape of the neck
Like shoulder and back tattoos, tattoos at the nape of the neck are more for other people than they are for the person who have them, but still make for a beautiful, feminine way to display your ink art. Bonus that they can be covered up with longer hair – or exposed by putting the hair up when you want to show them off.
The spine is a good place for displaying scrolls, phrases, quotes and tribal designs where a long, narrow canvas works best. These tattoos can be stunning and add a great deal of feminine mystique as well. While easily covered up, spine tattoos are quite beautiful when on display – even tho the wearer cannot see them.
Hip, Stomach, Pelvis
Hip tattoos are a sexy, playful addition to anyone’s body canvas. They are intimate and personal so that you can share them with that special person in your life or keep them all to yourself like a sultry secret.
Pelvis tattoos are another sexy option due to their intimate location. These tattoos sort of say, “For your eyes only” – which can be quite exciting.
Stomach tattoos are not as popular as hip and pelvis ones, but are still a nice choice for women wanting something different. Be advised that stomach tattoos will become stretched and distorted in the event of pregnancy and may never go back to their pre-pregnancy appearance – which is definitely something to consider if there are children in your future.
Cleavage is sexy on its own, but becomes even sexier when its adorned with a tattoo. Cleavage tattoos can make a sultry, seductive statement when exposed, but can also be easily covered up with a shirt or blouse.
Avoiding Common Tattoo Mistakes
For most people who get them, tattoos are treasured tributes to special events, people or moments in their lives that they carry proudly upon their skin. On the other hand, some people who get tattoos often end up wishing they never would have done it.
Tattoo regret is really a thing, everyone. Many people let their mood and emotions override their common sense and get tattoos on the spur of the moment when they would have never done so in their right minds. So here is a list of things to think about long and hard before you put that ink on your skin.
Think about the kind of tattoo that you want.
Be very certain about the kind of tattoo that you want before you sit down in the artist’s chair. It is tempting to get to the studio, see all the designs and end up with a tattoo you didn’t even want – and really end up regretting later. Be firm in your decision and don’t let anyone change your mind. It’s your body and your choice – remember that.
Research tattoo parlors in your area.
Just because a tattoo parlor looks good on the outside doesn’t mean the place is on the up and up. Pay a visit to the tattoo parlors in your area and do some research. See if they have any health violations. Inquire whether they have all their operating license and permits in order. Talk to the tattoo artists to find out what their backgrounds are and how much experience they have. Don’t be shy in asking for the information you need to make the right decision for yourself.
Avoid peer pressure.
Sure, it can be tempting to go to the tattoo parlor with a group of your girlfriends, all brave and giddy to get matching tattoos, but DON’T! Just because someone else has decided they want to wear a fluffy cartoon character (or whatever) on their skin for the rest of their lives doesn’t mean you have to follow the herd. Besides, who’s to say you’re even going to be friends with them in the future? The tattoo will be still be there even if the friendship isn’t.
Steer clear – very clear – of getting names tattooed on your skin.
So many people swear they have met the loves of their lives and absolutely must get their names inked upon their skin to carry the person with them for all of eternity. Fast forward a few months (weeks, days, years?) and they not only realize the person was an epic mistake – but so was the tattoo, which ends up being a constant and eternal reminder of that epic mistake. Just don’t do it. Seriously. Just don’t. Sure, get the names of your parents, your granny or your kids as tattoos if you want to, but please avoid putting any love interest’s name on your body. You will thank us for it later.
Don’t mix tattoos with alcohol.
One of the biggest cause of tattoo regret is getting a tattoo when you’re drunk. There is literally nothing worse than waking up hungover AND tattooed…with no idea how it got there or what it even means. Please, please don’t do this, people! If you’re drinking, stay very far away from tattoo parlors to avoid the temptation of making this awful mistake.
Stay away from tattoos in foreign languages.
Sure, that Asian symbol may look cool as a tattoo, but if you aren’t 100% of what it means, it can lead to a lifetime of embarrassment. Not only is translation a big issue – misplacement of the symbols can spell disaster as well. Stick to languages you’re fluent in for your tattoos and avoid this mistake.
Grammar is important.
There is nothing worse than deciding on a beautiful quote or scripture only to have the end result riddled with grammatical and punctuation errors. You may know the importance of proper grammar, but your tattoo artist, not so much. If you’re opting for written words like this, be very sure the sample is completely grammatically correct when you show the artist and that they know to full attention to the details.
Think of how your tattoo is going to look when you’re older.
There are some sexy, flirty tattoos that look super good on younger women, but can look like a horrible disaster on older skin. Realize that, sadly, none of us are going to be young and beautiful forever and that the beautiful ink you’re sporting now is going to age, sag and distort just like the rest of you when it’s older.
Do not neglect the aftercare of a tattoo.
Your tattoo artist will give you a list of very important aftercare instructions that you must follow completely for optimal healing of your tattoo. If any of these instructions are neglected, you risk infection and other complications in the skin. Make sure the tattoo environment and instruments used are sterile and that you follow any directions you are given. You should also schedule a follow-up appointment with the artist to be sure that the skin is healing as it should and that there are no issues that need to be addressed.
Tattoo Ideas For Girls
If you have decided that you absolutely want a tattoo, but can’t decide what to get, we can help. We have comprised a list of tattoo ideas for girls and the common meanings behind these popular designs.
White ink tattoos
White ink tattoos are absolutely gorgeous on and look fantastic on anyone. They are lacy, dainty and feminine, which make them a fabulous choice for girls who want something more elegant than the typical colored tattoos.
Zodiac symbols are a way of expressing your personality traits and what makes you uniquely you, based on your sign. These kinds of tattoos are a good choice for someone who identifies greatly with the meaning of their sign or someone who is into astrology.
Wings stand for freedom and are a good choice for anyone who needs a reminder that they have the power to set themselves free from their circumstances at any time. Common placement for wing tattoos is, of course, on the shoulders where a real pair of wings would be if we had them – but have the same meaning when placed anywhere else on the body.
The semicolon is a newly popular tattoo that implies continuation. The wearer makes the statement that their story is not over when they choose to have a semicolon tattoo.
Native Americans would hang dream catchers over their beds when they slept so that the bad influences, evil spirits and bad vibes would get tangled in the web of the catcher so that only the good, pure and true would filter through. Dream catcher tattoos have the same concept and are worn to block the negative energies that sometimes overtake us, only allowing the good to get through!
Arrows make cool looking tattoos, especially when they have feathers or other incorporated into their design. Arrows can be reminders to follow your dreams, keep moving forward or to simply just to follow your own arrow wherever it points!
Birds in flight represent freedom and are a great choice for someone who needs a reminder that they can break free from their circumstances and fly away from their troubles at the time of their choosing.
The moon is a powerful force in nature. It controls the pull of the oceans and its phases have an effect on nearly everything else in life, too. A phases of the moon tattoo can mean that we are powerful and whole, regardless of which phase of our lives we’re in.
Stars are there to light the way in the dark and lead us to where we were meant to be. As tattoos, stars can symbolize the same thing in our lives – a beacon of light in a dark place to illuminate your journey.
Fairies and Pixies
Fairies and pixies remind us of child-like innocence and are a good choice as a tattoo for someone who wants a tribute to their inner child to remind themselves just because they have to grow up, they don’t have to grow old.
Anchors symbolize being grounded and secure in the midst of storms and high water. Anchor tattoos can serve as reminders that the person is able to be steadfast and strong, regardless of which storms they pass through in life.
Crowns symbolize royalty and serve as reminders that we are the ruler of our kingdoms and queendoms.
A quotation marks tattoo may seem like a strange choice for someone who doesn’t understand their meaning, but the person who chooses this tattoo is reminded that life is unscripted and that they can fill in the space between the marks how ever they choose.