On Teenagers and Tattoos
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When you hear the words “teenagers and tattoos” what comes to mind? As most of us know, in American and many other countries, it is illegal to get a tattoo if you are under the age of eighteen. However, it is not impossible to get one if you are a minor. For some reason, nowadays it has become more and more easy to get tattoos when you are underage. In Andres Martin’s article, “On Teenagers and Tattoos”, he explains the psychology behind why teens ink their bodies. To summarize, “On Teenagers and Tattoos” declares that most teens get piercings and tattoos as a way of standing out and being unique. It states that piercings and tattoos are a way for teens to take control over their body and decorate it the way the want it to look. Martin suggests tattoos are a way for them to identify themselves. Although it is unusual for psychiatrists to mostly use qualitative evidence, Martin does a good job of using that evidence to make his article persuasive.
In Andres Martin’s article, he uses many rhetorical strategies. On example is his use of qualitative evidence verses quantitative evidence. In the Case Vignette section of Martin’s piece, he states “A proud father at 17, “B” had had the smiling face of his 4-month-old baby girl tattooed on his chest. As we talked at a tattoo convention, he proudly introduced her to me, explaining how he would “always know how beautiful she is today” when years from then he saw her semblance etched on himself” (2000. P. 143). Like this example, most of the evidence Martin uses is qualitative, meaning it is gathered from observation rather than statistics. I believe Andres Martin gives good evidence supporting his theory, however, because his article is aiming towards his peers, meaning other psychiatrists, Martin should have also used more quantitative evidence as well.
Aside from his use of evidence, I also found it weird that Martin decided to go with a more standard tone. Standard tone “relies on a plain, relatively formal style that doesn’t usually call attention to the writer’s personality. Instead it seeks to establish a relationship with readers based on shared interest and mutual respect” (Trimbur, J. p. 91). Given Martin’s audience, I would expect his tone to be more formal. I feel that because he decided to go standard, he distances himself from the other psychiatrists.
As much as I agree with Andres Martin’s claim, there were flaws in his writing. For instance, many might argue that because there was not enough statistics, Martin’s evidence is not credible. You could argue that his “observations” of previous patients with tattoos were merely fiction Martin made to try and persuade his fellow psychiatrists. Also, Martin gives mixed signals when he writes, “They can often be understood as self-constructive and adorning efforts, rather than prematurely subsumed as mutilatory and destructive acts” (2000. P. 143). I believe by using these two languages, it may cause people to be unclear about what Martin’s real opinions are on this subject. In the article, “On Teenagers and Tattoos”, Andres Martin states, “Seeking individuation, tattooed adolescents can become unambiguously demarcated from others and singled out as unique” (2000. P. 143).
Just as Martin wants people to view tattoos as “self-constructive” and “adorning”, so do I. I believe that tattoos can help teenagers who have not fully grasped the understanding of who they truly are. I also feel it gives teens the sense of responsibility and makes them feel more grown up. In the article, Martin talks about a young girl who states, “If I don’t fit in, it is because I say so.”(Martin, 2000, pg. 144). This further proves Andres Martin’s statement that teens get tattoos to make a statement about themselves. To me, tattoos are symbolic and make you unique. They are a way to decorate your body; it is an art. Although I do not have any tattoos yet, many people I know do. From my observation, some of these tattoos have helped them in their difficult times. For example, an old friend of mine lost her sister due to a horrible illness. Her sister was only sick for a few days when her life was drastically taken from her.
In her sister’s honor, and because of the love she felt for her, my friend got a portrait of her little sister’s face tattooed onto her left arm. This tattoo has helped her get through the hard times she suffered through and reminded her that her sister was still with her, even though she was not physically there. If tattoos have a purpose or meaning to you, they can be very beautiful. I do not think there is a specific age as to when you are too young to get a tattoo. It is my belief that getting a tattoo has to do with the maturity level of the person, not the actual age. If someone endures the pain of a rough trial and a tattoo would serve as their own personal therapy, who is to say they are too young to get it? As people say, “age is but a number”. Martin also talks about the problems this type of decision can cause with family relationships, because tattoos are permanently etched on their bodies.
Just because they are permanent, however, doesn’t mean they can’t be special and wonderful. Piercings are also a great way to decorate your body. I have about twelve piercings and as weird as it sounds, they make me who I am. When I was in high school I ran track. That particular sport does not allow you to run or race with your jewelry in. Because of this I was forced to take all twelve of my piercings out. I felt like I was being forced to hide who I was. Now that I’m out of high school I can wear my jewelry freely and be who I am. Also piercings are not permanent and easy to be removed, so they aren’t such a drastic decision.
Andres Martin uses his article “On Teenagers and Tattoos” to try to persuade his audience. He explains some of the reasons he believes teenagers get tattoos and why he thinks it could be a good idea. It was overall a very well written piece of writing. Andres Martin used great details to support his claims. He mostly uses qualitative evidence to appeal to the emotional side of his audience instead of using quantitative evidence, or statistics. He uses a standard tone to state his opinion of which he believes teens get tattoos to take control over something they could not otherwise manipulate: their bodies. I believe he did an outstanding job of talking to his targeted audience and persuading them to see his side of the story. After reading Martin’s article, I feel that parents would be more at ease with their children getting tattoos or piercings, now that they have a better understanding of why most teens decide they want one.
Martin, A. (2000). On teenagers and tattoos. Reclaiming Children and
Youth, 9(3), 143-144+. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/214196131?accountid=7374 Trimbur, J. (2011). The Call to Write. P. 46