December 11, 2013
By Nicole Akoukou Thompson
The dermis layer of the skin is met with a hand-held device that utilizes electromagnetic coils to move an armature bar, which is connected to a barred needle that penetrates the skin, leaving behind permanent markings; known as tattoos. While tattoos have only been trendy in Western fashion since the 1970's, that in no way indicates that tattoos are a new concept, or are without a rich history.
Aztecan, Incan, and Mayan ancestors adorned their body with tattoos, also scarring and piercings, which has to lead to the contemporary adoration of tattoos by Latinos. Tattooing has been practiced in many cultures for centuries, and has a history that reaches back to nameless times. The modern revival of tattooing began in the late 1700, and while taboo in the mainstream for a number of years, the practice of tattooing continued in the shadows.
Ink Master, Miami Ink, Tattoo Nightmares, and LA Ink are some of the reality series that feature countless individuals, many of them Latino, receiving and dispensing tattoos. Pew Research Center presented a study in 2010, which stated that a third of U.S. males, age 18 to 25 have at least one tattoo, and, congruently, 40 percent of males ages 26 to 40 have them as well; a great deal of those men happen to be Latino.
Cholo and prisoner culture may be deeply influenced by skin art, but they don't have an exclusive hold on the practice, and often tattoos don't have a negative connotation. Most Latinos aren't wearing teardrop tattoos, the number '13', or five-point stars. However, Latinos seek do seek identifiable marks which show family names written in calligraphy, or tattoos that have national, cultural, or religious meaning.
"Latinos no doubt have multiple groupings and endless iterations of barb-wired biceps, spider-webbed elbows, full-back Virgins of Guadalupe, portraits of Che Guevara or Emiliano Zapata, among other embellishments," said John Rosalie in an article for National Hispanc News.
Latinos blanket their flesh in graphics, covering up as if wearing armor. Basketball players haven't cornered the market of multifaceted full-sleeves, rappers haven't staked claim on bold chest tattoos, and musicians certainly don't have sole custody of the sexy shoulder or back tattoo. The "swirl of adornment" is indicative of a greater interest in tattoos that involves creative storytelling, self-expression, aesthetic, distinguishability, permanence, and pride.
"And who knows how many of our neighbors have a Day of the Dead skull etched in a private place? Attend one of the 40 or so tattoo conventions nationwide, and you will probably see Latinos spying the latest designs," Rosalie stated, and also said, "this riot of images seems retro and fashion-forward at once."
Tattoos that announce national pride through flags and the geographic shape of home states can be tools, a benign act of defiance when being Chicano in a predominately non-Chicano space, and flags of U.S. national pride aim to do the opposite, to show solidarity. Often, these tattoos can speak about history, and will act as timestamp for those who acquire it. Individuals who have tattoos of La Migra on their bodies give a narrative about the maltreatment of individuals at the border. Ceasar Chavez tattoos will indicate periods of workers' rights demonstration for migrant farm workers. Much like tattoos of Frida Kahlo and her artwork will speak of a time where Latinos first became seen as intrepid artists. Images of brown-skinned virgins, sacred hearts, crosses, and rosary is used to celebrate religion, and is timeless.
Source: Latin Post