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The Power Of Ink

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The controversial issue of tattoos and whether or not they are a “sign of deviance” or just a “fashion statement” was raised by Helen Day in her Street Beat blog, “The Power of Ink” (25/3/15). Appealing to her regular blog readers and those who may be interested in tattoos, Day contends that “the deviant nature of the tattoo has faded” and it is no longer seen as a sign of rebellion but rather a sign of fashion. Opening her blog with a historical perspective on tattoos as a form of identifying, Day reveals that for centuries, tattoos were used to “mark the deviant and the incarcerated”, positioning readers to understand that tattoos indicated “ownership” or “control” by someone with power. Readers, not wanting to be seen as someone’s property, could rethink their attitude towards having a tattoo as such dehumanising would go against most people’s morality, particularly if they contemplate the “concentration camps of World War II” and recall “the horror of this genocide” which is clearly linked to the “indelible cruelty” on so many arms.

Older readers who would remember the war, or stories about it from their parents, might therefore concur with Sam de Brito’s book title, “No tattoos before you’re thirty” as they would have similar recommendations for their own children. Fearing that their children may do permanent damage to themselves, parents may even be inclined to purchase this book in the hope that it will have helpful hints on how to eradicate youthful rebellion. Day concludes this section of her blog by indicating that tattoos were closely linked to reducing human beings to “property and machine”. This is through the dehumanising when tattoos used to mean that people were a slave/ property of someone. Further on, Day states that from the 1990’s tattoo parlours were set up in “every Australian shopping strip”. This was used by young women who “dared to defile” their femininity.

This has now become redundant since the British Prime Minister’s wife has an ankle bracelet tattoo. People these days are starting to find other ways to rebel since people with high status are ‘taking their ways’. This compares to the comment made by Cleanskin (26 March 7.40am) in which they point out that they do rebel but do not have tattoos on their body. They make a point of clarifying that; “if you wouldn’t put the picture on the wall, why pay some hack to needle it into your body?” this rhetorical question engages the reader into their beliefs and the possibility for them to be questioned. Day finishes her blog in stating that her tattoo has become “as ordinary as any other cosmetic quirk”. This shows the redundancy in which tattoos are becoming, and how they aren’t used to show property any more. The image of the sleave tattoo style known as Ta Moko shows how beautiful tattoos can look. The comment on Day’s blog by Kiwi (26 of March 8.02am) emphasises the fact that the style of Ta Moko is “a sacred form of family and personal identification”.

This can implement a sense of fear in those who are not kiwi and don’t know the meaning of the intricate tattoos, as the imitation of the art can be classified as nothing else than identity theft. Kiwi ends their comment on a rhetorical question when asking “how you would feel if someone stole those from you”. This is due to the fact that the tattoos are as unique as fingerprints. This is helped when the image’s description indicates that the tattoo can show ones family heritage. This appeals the family values and justice as those whose heritage it is for the tattoo design are being compromised. Day used a range of persuasive techniques to help attempt to persuade readers that even though tattoos used to be a symbol from authority of branding and dehumanising, they are now “as ordinary as any other cosmetic quirk”. This is assisted by the use of rhetoric and appeals to implement fear in readers that it may be them who could take the identity through a tattoo.

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