Reasons People Get Tattooed

What's the Purpose of Tattoos?

Rihanna and her back tattoo

Rihanna/Johnny Nunez/Getty Images

Have you ever looked at someone with a huge pin-up on their shoulder and wondered, what are the reasons people get tattooed?

Tattoos have their share of misunderstanding. From being banned in many work environments, to being deemed socially unacceptable in many parts of the world, their history and purpose vary based on the wearer. They are truly an individual piece of art. Take a look at the many different reasons people get tattooed and it may change your opinion on them.

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To Identify Themselves

Zodiac Tattoo
Phonesystempbx Phone/Flickr

Most people get tattooed to mark a significant aspect of themselves or their life. This can be done with a simple yet symbolic zodiac tattoo symbol, or a more detailed design based on a favorite movie or character or any other significant piece. If you're going the route of having a tattoo with meaning, you'll want to put some time into tattoo design ideas long before getting one. Look at repeated things that you are drawn to or relate to and start there for inspiration.

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Honor Loved Ones

From military to family portrait tattoos, many people honor their family and loved ones in a tattoo design. Black and grey tattoos are most popular for honoring loved ones in a realistic tattoo style. But, you can also pay tribute to those you love with verse tattoos. You can even copy their handwriting and have that turned into a script tattoo. Did you know you can have the ashes of a deceased's remains poured into your tattoo ink, and then inserted into your skin? Ancient cultures have long carried the remains of their loved ones through body ink.

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For Style

Tattoos are also favored for making a fashion statement. If you want to express your own unique and individual style any form of body art or modification and adornments can help. From full tattoo sleeves on a lady to capture the pin-up style, or an eclectic mix of black and grey portrait tattoos, tattooing your body is a way to define your own individual style.

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Prison and Gangs

On the darker side of the tattoo world, there are prison tattoos and designs used amongst gang members to affiliate themselves with one another on the street. The history of prison tattoos are being brought back into discussion with the upcoming release of

Tattoo Nation

, which documents the history of black and grey portrait tattooing from the streets of Los Angeles, and their start in the Chicano based tattoo shop, Tattooland.

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For Profit

Although not nearly a common reason for getting a tattoo, some people sell their bodies for prime advertising space. The online casino paid a woman $15,000 to tattoo their casino logo on her forehead.These types of tattoos, while profitable, are also most likely to end with regret. Think twice before you sell your body to anyone.

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Other Reasons

Another reason people may get tattooed is to cover up scar tissue, such as opting for a breast tattoo post-mastectomy. This is also true of a deformality or permanent handicap. For example, someone may lose their arm in a shark attack, and decide to tattoo the shape of a shark's head on their remaining limb. Adding a dose of humor to an unfortunant circumstance, these types of tattoos can prove to be healing, especially when they help improve the appearance of the body and boost confidence. While the reasons people get tattooed are many, the end result is always the same. It's permanent!