Throughout history, the use of tattoos has been an important part of many cultures. From Polynesia to Ancient Egypt tattoos have been used as symbols of religious and spiritual devotion, good luck charms and commonly as promises of eternal love. They have also been used to aid identification of the oppressed during the Holocaust and slavery.
This increasingly popular form of body art is widely regarded as the ultimate form of self-expression. Whether intentional or not, a tattoo says something about its owner – and I dare say it is supposed to. However, symbols are subject to individual interpretation, and for this reason, tattoo art continues to be largely misunderstood.
But how many of you would agree that where misuse occurs misunderstanding becomes reason? As the ageless proverb reads, â€˜too much of anything is good for nothingâ€™.
An adultâ€™s desire for body art should be respected. However a misinformed obsession for tattoos, especially among Dominican and other Caribbean teenage girls- many of whom are below the legal age of consent, should be a cause for deep concern, for health officials as well as ordinary citizens.
Increasingly Caribbean society is being infused with a culture of tattoos. It is definitely a new craze- just think of how many women in you knew with tattoos 10 years ago.
Internationally, Caribbean women have been stereotyped as uneducated and lacking in direction and family values, but best at dancing and parading in Carnival bands. Adding to these baseless views are increasing numbers of West Indian drug mules who are labeled as immoral women. These are some of major issues which should persuade us to be careful not make ourselves appear as a group of women who are easily influenced by foreign cultures. Some of us seem, perhaps by no fault of ours, to be unable to siphon the good from the bad. But in our decisions to imitate celebrities such as Rihanna, Beyonce, 50 cent and Britney Spears we must remember that they are fallible humans too.
If youâ€™re going to wear a tattoo for the rest of your life, it should be located in such a way that it does not give persons the opportunity to judge you unfairly. It should also represent something meaningful or special, and not just be a copy of a friendâ€™s or a Hollywood actressâ€™s.
Caribbean women have always been proud to be different, exotic and unique. We should keep it that way!
Yes it is all so true. Let us Caribbean women be trend setters instead! 🙂 Well expressed Danielle.
Agree 100% Caribbean woman should be trend setters – great post Danielle – can’t wait to see what you come up with next. 😀
That is well said Danielle…keep it coming
Never thought of tattoos that way. Interesting point of view and if its biased then I’m on your side of the argument.
This was a very insightful look at this issue. I too planned on getting a tattoo, but after reading this, I am seriously considering otherwise. The writter was correct in mentioning about the stereotyping of Caribbean women but how about taking it a step further, that we as a black race on a whole for so long have have been (and still is) stereotyped/profiled. It’s time we change the perception of the worlds’ view of us and it can begin with something as small as body art. This was very brilliantly written!
I disagree, I have tattoos and they are either tribal symbols or represent things of substance and meaning. They are however stategically placed to prevent any misconception of me or my intelligence in the event that I am in a professional setting. Tattoos date way back to about 2000 bc and the earliest known evidence of its practice was found in Nubian and Egyptian mummies. Today people use them for various reasons whether it be as a rite of passage, rank and status, decorations of bravery, decorations of spiritual and religous devotion etc. The writer’s blatant attempt to insinuate that those to have tatoos are being influenced by foreign cultures or simply immitating celebrities is ludicrous and basically insulted my ability to make what I think were carefully thought out and intelligent decesions on my part. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for freedom of expression but I draw the line when girls and guys get the names of their significant other or the ‘chick of the month’ tattooed on there body and have to live with that for the rest of their lives. That is just tacky and plain stupid…
A very interesting piece of literary art.I too subscribe to the view that tattos while in some cases are religous or for cultural reasons the vast majority of persons just wear them as a fashion statement. This I view to be foolish and wrong. And we as caribbean and black people should rise above this rubbish.my well wishes to the writer and I shall look forward to reading her new articles on this site
There are so many disadvantages to getting a tattoo. One can get a disease or an infection from the process. The mark is indelible. It can create a bad impression.
When I entered the navy at age 17 in the 1950s tattooed women were only seen in circus sideshows, and most men with numerous and prominent tattoos, some of them offensive, were sailors or others at the low end of the socioeconomic. scale. Today one sees tattoos on rich, but often uneducated and poorly-behaving athletes, gang members, etc. as well as on those who would never fit into those categories — but the first impression created by their tattoos must somehow be overcome.
My mother asked me not to get tattooed in the Navy, and I promised her I would not. In boot camp, most of the other guys boasted they’d get tattoos on our first liberty. On that liberty, we all headed to the burlesque house first! Exiting, there was the tattoo parlor next door in that seedy Chicago “Loop” neighborhood. The guys started milling around, none willing to go first. I spoke up and said we should leave. They replied that saying that was easy for me because I had promised my mom that I would not get a tattoo, but that in actuality I was “chicken”. Like a fool, I was the first to sit in the tattoo artist’s chair! I was going to get a large and colorful tattoo with my name and co-joined hearts and above them a banner saying “Mom and Dad”. I got my name and “Mom & Dad” written into my skin in blue ink and when the tattooist paused to change to red for the hearts, I asked him about the cost. To my surprise, I did not have enough money to pay him. So I left with only the words high on my shoulder. To this day I regret having done even that.
I am not a believer, but most Dominicans are. Part of the creed they embrace states that the body is reflective of God’s design and is naturally beautiful, and is the temple of the soul. I wonder how anyone professing to believe that can defile the body so, or have the hubris to think that they can improve on the design.
You are just mad cuz you were too broke to get a good tattoo and too stupid to think of something that you wouldn’t be embarrassed about later, I am certain that had your tattoo turned out fine, you wouldn’t be Bitter Betty. First of all this topic is sooooo obsolete and if anything it is for the poorly educated however; because I am very tattooed, and this was sent to me by a concerned friend, i feel the need to defend those “badly behaved athletes”, “circus girls” and even the “stupid chicken sailors”. I know yeah yeah yeah that I am not perfect but for a “poor” girl from Dominica, who is 14 credits away from a PhD and has travelled all over the world doing research, has four published pieces in the Library of Congress (I could provide the ISBN #’s if you care to check), I see nothing wrong with tattoos and neither does anyone I frequent; and not just the likes of my granola-live-in-trees or my Goth-tattoo-tears-on-their-eyes friends, but those like the Chair of the French/Italian Department at the U of MN and the director of Public affairs, the head researcher at the School of Public Health at the U of MN plus everyone at UC Berkeley including my bank manage; oh and the east Indian priests, and the drummers and storytellers on Goree (island where the slaves were sent from outside of Senegal West Africa), hello…the list goes on.. In that regard I am sure that God has no problems with their temples, He might be a little more concerned about the lack of government in Ethiopia and the gangsters in Somalia, in addition he may be currently on business in Darfur where people are withering away like flies on a hot day…I think mammy showed me this verse in the Bible that says something to the likes of who are we that God even notices us, and this verse has never rung more ideally than after reading your piece, Seriously, do you think it is that important or that a tattoo makes that much of a difference unless someone really has nothing better to do with their brain power or time – like me right now because I am riding the train and saving the last page of my so interesting book for tomorrow morning, in that regard, I can both answer to this crap and make Brenda feel like I care to answer and subsequently/purposely defending good, smart, gorgeous, spiritual, educated, patient, interesting and in some cases people with stories like me. I spent two years in Senegal and was amazed at how at home I felt then even more overwhelmed by the significance and nature of the baobab tree. I didnâ€™t know when I would/could ever ever go back there again or if I ever would – the best way to keep that memory of humility and spirituality (in my mind) was to get the damn thing permanently printed in my skin. So every time I look in the mirror, I see Senegal, I see the people who took care of me and prayed with me, who cried with me, who were not affected by their poverty and lack of almost every necessity. It reminds me of how blessed I am and how grateful I should be and I am always too happy and PROUD to explain it to people when they say “what a beautiful tree”. It is an emblem of my people I say. When I first got it mammy said that I was a jack ass over and over again. Last year when I went home, we went to the market and a lady passing said “bondou the chile bound to put a big tree like that and mark up her body so?” I am used to stupidity so things like that go thru one ear and out the other…you know what mammy said to her, so loudly at the market that everyone laughed? She said “my lady, your lunch cook already? I woke up at 4am so that while me and my child and grandchild are strolling around town we would be comforted knowing that when we got home our lunch would be nice and hot waiting for us, are your children comforted by that idea while you pass by noticing a tree on someone else’s body that has nothing to do with you?” I had never been more proud of my mother, ok well I have been, but that’s beside the point…my mammy was calm and suggested this intelligence that I had never noticed. Her response was well-deserved and it shocked everyone around us including the attacker. Mom was right, who cares? Who the hell cares? Why should you? (I am not attacking you, just defending tattoos â€“ ok?) People do whatever they feel like, whenever they feel like and if it affects you directly, you may respond, if it is doesn’t, then who the hell cares. So this is a round about and blabby answer but I may have made a few points in defense of I-am-not-too-sure-whom, certainly not me, because I am a canvas and couldn’t care less who likes it or who doesn’t. As far as I am concerned my temple is nice and in tact and quite fancily/magnificently painted (with a few errors here and there but…that’s the whole idea behind not being perfect) I feel like an Earl Etienne special/specimen if I may be so bold as to think of myself as one of his masterpieces. God, when he gets a chance to look up from the breakdown of Yugoslavia, the war in Iraq, the killing in Darfur, the death penalty, the starvation in east Africa, the pollution in China, the natural disasters everywhere else, the fight for a cure for cancer, the request for autism understanding and all the rest; might just get a glimpse and say “wow, that is some cool art that Nick free-handed! Go Nick, I am so glad that you are able to use your talent somehow!”
I couldn’t have responded better! Respect.
Beautifully said! Even though the bible says not to tattoo your body… I figured that if that’s all it takes to get my ticket to hell I’m certainly going for I’ve done much worse in my life time. And you’re RIGHT…. there’s much more going on in this world for Him to be concerned with other than some ink on ones body. I love my tats. They all have personal meaning to me and those reasons are mine. All mine! I’ve never seen your tree, but I’m sure it’s just as beautiful as the memories it represents.
Very intersting point of view.Caribbean women should be leaders and not followers.I see no reason why women should dirty their bodies with permanent paint.Makes no sense to me.
alas…even if you go on CNN…people still don’t seem to think clearly…are you guys even reading the comments or are you just reading the first lines and commenting? annoying…if you are going to give an opinion, bondou, at least give one that adds a little dexterity or at least that makes some kind of sense.
Avril, you comment is interesting to read, but most of people will not bother themself to read long unbroken text or lot comments together :)))) a psychological factor.
like with anything else, people will always find something to say about an issue. the same goes for tatoos…whetther it is understood, misunderstood, semi-understood or whatever…people are going to talk. i believe if someone strongly feels that a tatoo is a form of art that will adequately express or solidify a point to be made then go for it. people WILL give their feedback regardless if they like it or not, or whether you asked for it or not. in the end, it’s all about pleasing yourself and doing what makes you happy (within the confines of legal, personal and spiritual boundaries). aesthetic value is always in the eye of the beholder…so everyone will never be pleased by the sight of a tatoo!
very well written article; concise, balanced and thorough ms edwards!
I could go either way on this issue. I believe that people should express themselves in whatever way they feel comfortable. But I also agree that there are limits. But the bottom line is, is it hurting anyone? How is it realisticly affecting other people?
Avril, I have degrees in physics, and math and an MBA. Chris knows me and will vouch for me being anything but stupid. Also, I don’t debate by name-calling.
And I write clearly.
you want a gold medal then? urgh, thanks for the personal response mr mba blah blah.
woosh, i have two personal responses, important are we? and to boot another one directly to my personal email from the editor who loved my comments and wants me to keep them coming! I got my gold star! Go tattoos and chicken george, broken texts and PhD’s, MBA’s and fig trees too!! is that fruit fig or green banana “fig”?:) now I understand what poor Skerrit has to deal with… we just never know when and how to let go, it’s the village in all of us – whether it is good or bad. urghhhh
Tattoos. what a controversial subject!
I believe an adult should be able to do whatever they want to themselves, but all these under aged people getting tattoos when tattoos are permanent is really a problem. But in Dominica underaged…. EVERYTHING is a problem.
I don’t know, I ask myself if I would ever get a tattoo and the answer is maybe. Even though it’s against my religious beliefs.
I agree with the point that it should be something significant and special for that person.. not just because of some trend…
But I also think that as tattoos are becoming so popular the same stigma they presented before has also changed. Maybe not with older generations but definitely with the youth.
Tattoos are now considered more a form of beautification for some, just like with piercings. And to each their own. I mean a baby girl has her ears pierced before she can talk.. did anyone ask her if she wanted that done..?
If we’re going to talk about religious views, and what is considered right and wrong that’s another story. And people are going to make their decisions according to their beliefs and desires.
I know that when I see someone with a tattoo my opinion of them isn’t based on that…if I see someone who has tattoos all over their body…. like everywhere, it does make me pause and wonder why, but not necessarily in a negative light. it’s just intriguing. BUT I will also admit when I saw The Game with a huge star on his face I was like.. what was he thinking.. he’ll be 80 years old one day with no teeth, wrinkled skin and that thing still there.
but again…I try not to be judgemental when it comes to people. I do think a lot of people are getting tattoos just because it’s a popular thing to do, without thinking it threw. they’re sheep. but there are others who are making a conscious choice and their tattoos really mean a lot to them. They may regret it later, they may not. But that’s life.. experiencing things and doing things that help us develop and grow.
My philosophy? do what makes you happy and be ready to live with the consequences of it, whether it be in life or judgement day.
😉 domincia has so much ecconmical matters that have to be dealt with, along with the extreme lack of customer service ( staff to customer), some of our so called proffesional companies needs to address( they have no manners), is tatoo that we are making a point of conversation.
Each to their own whereever they put a tatoo, is they that to live with it, no one else.
Lady you may have raised a point, and of course i mean no dis respect, but i believe we have lots more important issues, that could be discussed.
i have three tattoos and i choose to get them cus they mean something to me the also say wat personality i have .i made a choice to get my tats cus i know i can live with it and am comfortable with my self .most of the time i don’t even remember i have tats unless if some one comes and ask about them .
here we go again. people are there not more important things to address in the world such as Darfur for example? I beleieve Jesus said something to the effect of” let the man with no sins cast the first stone.” there are more important things going on to be writing once again about tattoos. i think it’s being judgemental to automatically think that caribbean women do not have minds of their own. everyone make their own decisions and have to live with it for the rest of their lives. i have tattoos, and as a matter of fact it takes me several years to get some of them. every tattoo has it’s own meaning and is placed where i wanted it to be placed. if you (term being used generally) decide to look at me and jump to your (term being used generally) own judgmental assumptions without asking a question well by all means that is your (term being used generally) problem. as far as i see only God can judge and you (term being used generally) are no better than i am. every tattoo that i have all i dont know 17 of them, SORRY I LOST COUNT, have their own story behind them. they all have a purpose. most people get tattoos for specific reasons whether it’s the death of a loved one, right of passage for whatever in their life or whatever PERSONAL reason that they have that led them to make such a decision.
I see the last comment was since in November, but I will go ahead and give mines anyways. I agree to some extent with Avril and those who support tattoos. I don’t agree that Caribbean women are seen as uneducated around the world. That is certainly not the case. I am not one to group everybody together but I have had positive experiences as a caribbean woman out of Dominica. Its my belief that many employers especially those in the US are excited about caribbean workers all together. Not only that, there are schools that go out of their way to have west indian students in their classrooms especially the women. Caribbean women are not seen as lazy, but hardworking academically. I believe that if there stereotypes of caribbean women is that many are super independent , extremely outspoken and stubborn (meaning always wantting their own way).
Now as for the tattoos if it isn’t something that you feel comfortable with then you shouldn’t get it. Why demonize others for something they chose to do. I think there are more important things in the world that need grave attention than tattoos. Tattoos don’t define who you are and what you are going to do with your life. I think there is a lot of distaste towards things we can’t understand or we prevent ourself from understanding.
All this stereotyping of our own caribbean brothers and sisters are absolutley unnecessary. If you aren’t interested in body art then thats fine no one is frcing you to get one but I have friends who don’t live their life by their body art but by their character. lawyers, doctors, teachers and engineers they all help the comunity in someway with tattoos on. Character thats all that matters.
Tattoo is a mark the devils put on their gods to know which one belong to them,then after they were captured the gods in Babylon put cuts on the faces of their children or tattoo their body for identity as is up to this generartion wanting to Identify them selves to be somebody of a kind only to regret afterwards they cant change their personality or who they are within with faults.The body can always be made beautiful with SPRITS of creation with no faults.The devils always want to know who belong to them by tattoo.on humans with sprits from their seed to death.
Real beauty is a perfect Sprit with a good personality thinking of the higher things in life and creation
Tattoo is a free choice to follow a fasion like the devils to put a mark on the flesh that is created for creation.The devils hate gods from their seed for their down fall for makeing god through rape in the flesh.anyone who still want to tatoo their body remember they cant stay in the body for ever and must depart from it to face the Judge and King in the Kingdom who will send them to join the devils who will tell them you had a choice and did the same as us in the flesh so shut up from crying in this heat.you did not worship us cry to God if he can save you here will give him praise.
Those who still want to tattoo, be fore you do place an order for this book THE BATTLE IN THE KINGDOM on the internet out in December 2011 it will make you wise.
It’s all really a question of personal taste: permanent body graffiti represents the absolute depth of bad taste on a par with driving bits of metal through the flesh! Ugh!!
I got a small tattoo while in the Navy. I have regretted it for the rest of my life.
I think that people should try to be happy with their natural bodies (which many believe is in a sacred image) and not try to “enhance” them with tattoos or piercings.