Most elderly people look at tattooed men or women as if they have just been fresh out of jail (read: jail ink). I totally understand this as our elders lived in a time when people got inked while serving time. So when my husband got his very first tattoo recently, he hesitated a bit as he knew how his parents are going to react.
I, however, supported him all the way, as I am open to this kind of penchant. I have an uncle who’s a tattoo artist, who happened to be the one behind the tunnel piercing for my ears (done 11 years ago). And oh, by the way, I’ve got a plan on having my own tattoo but I haven’t really decided yet as to which tattoo designs I’ll have. I’ll have to choose something that’s not unpleasant. It’s quite common for older people to disapprove of getting inked. “Dinudumihan nyo lang ang balat nyo” (You’re only tainting your skin), they usually say. Or most often it’s “Mukha kang adik!” (You look like a substance abuser/druggie).
That’s how they (mostly old folks) see inked people. It’s due to the fact that people their age who have tattoos used to spend time in the slammer or were addicted to prohibited substances. I find this notion so disappointing. It’s become a reason anyone with a tattoo to be ridiculed or be a victim of discrimination. Totally different from OUR generation and from OUR time. At present, tattoos are artistic representations of oneself permanently marked on skin.Some crowd get tattoos for different reasons. Many of them choose to document the highlights or significant events in their lives through tattoos. I’ve known a few people who got their inks just because of heartbreaks (some may find it ridiculous, but that’s what they felt like doing at that time, so their reasons are none of our business, haha!) There are also people who get tattoos because it’s “uso” (fad). Masabi lang na astig sila. Or it could be due to a kid’s impulsiveness and curiosity. The list could go on forever.
Having a tattoo does not necessarily mean that one doesn’t respect or take care of his/her body. I remember a feature that Kara David of GMA once did for i-Witness in 2010. It’s called “Ang Huling Mambabatok”. It’s about the Filipino culture, particularly of people of Kalinga. Our ancestors’ bodies’ used to be embellished with intricate patterns or “batok” (the native term for tattoo) to signify their strength as warriors. This is the very reason they were referred to as “Pintados” by the Spaniards. So, you see, that’s just their artistic way of telling everyone that they’ve been through a lot as warriors. These markings represent who they were and what they’ve done. Which is similar to someone opting to get his/her skin ink marks to artistically show what his/her passions are and what makes his/her entire being. Or simply just for one’s love of the art.