Current cultural understandings of tattoos in Europe and North America have been greatly influenced by long-standing stereotypes based on deviant social groups in the 19th and 20th centuries. Particularly in North America, tattoos have been associated with stereotypes, folklore and racism. Not until the 1960s and 1970s did people associate tattoos with such societal outcasts as bikers and prisoners. Today, in the United States many prisoners and criminal gangs use distinctive tattoos to indicate facts about their criminal behavior, prison sentences and organizational affiliation. A teardrop tattoo, for example, can be symbolic of murder, or each tear represents the death of a friend. At the same time, members of the U.S. military have an equally well-established and longstanding history of tattooing to indicate military units, battles, kills, etc., an association that remains widespread among older Americans. In Japan, tattoos are associated with yakuza criminal groups, but there are non-yakuza groups such as Fukushi Masaichi's tattoo association that sought to preserve the skins of dead Japanese who have extensive tattoos. Tattooing is also common in the British Armed Forces. Depending on vocation, tattoos are accepted in a number of professions in America. Companies across many fields are increasingly focused on diversity and inclusion.
Richmond, Virginia has been cited as one of the most tattooed cities in the United States. That distinction led the Valentine Richmond History Center to create an online exhibit titled "History, Ink: The Tattoo Archive Project." The introduction to the exhibit notes, "In the past, western culture associated tattoos with those individuals who lived on the edge of society; however, today they are recognized as a legitimate art form and widely accepted in mainstream culture."
According to George Orwell, coal miners could develop characteristic tattoos owing to coal dust getting into wounds. This can also occur with substances like gunpowder. Similarly, a traumatic tattoo occurs when a substance such as asphalt is rubbed into a wound as the result of some kind of accident or trauma. These are particularly difficult to remove as they tend to be spread across several layers of skin, and scarring or permanent discoloration is almost unavoidable depending on the location. An amalgam tattoo is when amalgam particles are implanted in to the soft tissues of the mouth, usually the gums, during dental filling placement or removal. Another example of such accidental tattoos is the result of a deliberate or accidental stabbing with a pencil or pen, leaving graphite or ink beneath the skin.
I meet a colleague for lunch. “He knew how much it would hurt me,” I say, tears running down my face. “For years I’ve said, don’t do it. It’s there for ever, even after you’ve changed your mind about who you are and what you want to look like. You’re branded, like meat. It can damage your work prospects. It can turn people against you before you’ve even opened your mouth.”
Crosses have always been a very popular design to get for both males and females. They are most commonly known to represent people of a Christian faith, but can also just be for it’s aesthetic nature. They’re are also a lot of different variants of the cross and they all have different meanings and origins. Because of how simple a design they are they really can work anywhere on your body.
The Japanese sleeve tattoo has long been accepted as a symbol of both spiritual and social status. Although after World War II, the Emperor of Japan was quick to outlaw them since he wants to improve the country’s appearance. And much like anything else that gets outlawed, people began envying what they couldn’t have – Which is what happened in the case of the Yakuza, also known as the Japanese mafia. The Yakuza weren’t the only ones to adopt the traditional art of tattooing – Foreigners did the same as well. The Japanese style sleeve tattoo has a beautiful floral design, a deep meaning, as well as a colorful motif.
Tattoos have also been used for identification in other ways. As early as the Zhou, Chinese authorities would employ facial tattoos as a punishment for certain crimes or to mark prisoners or slaves. During the Roman Empire, gladiators and slaves were tattooed: exported slaves were tattooed with the words "tax paid", and it was a common practice to tattoo "Stop me, I'm a runaway" on their foreheads. Owing to the Biblical strictures against the practice, Emperor Constantine I banned tattooing the face around AD 330, and the Second Council of Nicaea banned all body markings as a pagan practice in AD 787.