Sunday, June 4, 2017

Tattoo – Symbol of “Slavery” or Expression of Freedom – or Just a Fashion Statement

During my walks in Pune – I have noticed a proliferation of Tattoo Studios” all over town – in Malls, Shopping Centres, Business Districts, Residential Areas, even in the Suburbs. 

I have also noticed that an increasing number of people are getting themselves inked. 

This reminds me of a blog post I had written long back on TATTOO – in which I had asked the moot question:

Why Do People Have Tattoos...?

I have not got the answer to my question so far.

So – let me post my views on TATTOO once more – with the hope that – someone will tell us why people have tattoos – especially those who have a tattoo themselves...

Why Do People Get Themselves Inked...?
Obsolescent Musings of an Antiquated Veteran

Getting permanently “inked” seems to be getting increasingly popular day by day.

Some proudly display visible tattoos on exposed parts of their bodies  while some like to have secret tattoos in various private places of their bodies.

Some get names of their lovers inked on their bodies  maybe as a Public Display of Affection (PDA).

Some people like individuals who have a tattoo  some are indifferent  and some disapprove.

There are organisations that do not approve of tattoos.

A young man told me that he wanted to join the Army 
 but he could not do so since he had a Tattoo.

I was surprised.

I did not know that the Army does not allow individuals with Tattoos to join up. 

 Tattoos were associated with Navy Sailors.

Merchant Seamen and Naval Sailors 
 who sailed across the high seas to distant lands  came back with exotic tattoos inked on their bodies as a testimony to their travels  and as a permanent memory of the ports they had visited.

 the tradition of tattooing  or permanently inking your body  soon became associated with sailors  men who sailed the high seas to exotic destinations.

I do not know whether the Indian Navy permits officers and sailors to have tattoos 
– but – during my long service in the Navy – I did not see any Naval Officer or Sailor with tattoos – except innocuous childhood tattoos inked on forearms as a custom/tradition when they were children.

I do not have a Tattoo 
 nor did I see any of my shipmates get themselves inked with Tattoos on their bodies  but I have seen a few Merchant Navy Sailors with Tattoos.

Do the Indian Army and Air Force allow Tattoos...?

I do not know.

Some employers may frown upon Tattoos.

So  if do not want your Tattoo to come in the way of a career opportunity – especially if you want to join the Armed Forces – you better think twice before you get your body permanently inked with a tattoo.

– I once saw a stylish Army wife with an intricate tattoo inked on her body  at a most curious place.

I once read a story about a lovey-dovey celebrity couple who got each other’s names tattooed 
 permanently inked  on their bodies as an expression of mutual love.

A few years later 
 the lovers had a break up and separated.

 after they had a bitter break-up  the Tattoo of Love became a Symbol of Hate  and they wanted to get their tattoos removed  and in the laborious process they ended up damaging their skin with scars.

Tattoos are painful to get inked – so I really wonder why people are willing to undergo pain just to ink their skin.

I never felt the need to get a tattoo.

I have always wondered why so many people 
 especially celebrities  like to ink their bodies permanently with tattoos.

Let us try to answer the moot question 
 and – try to fathom the answer to mysterious question: 

Why Do People Have Tattoos...?


Whenever I see a person with a Tattoo  I get intrigued.

Why do people have tattoos made on their body...?

Why do some beautiful persons stain and blemish their soft flawless skin...?

Why do they go through the expensive and painful process of inking...?

What is the reason people want to have a tattoo...? 

In order to understand this mystery  I decided to go into the basics of human behaviour.

Tell me: 

“Why do you behave in the way you do...?”

The answer is simple:

You behave in a certain way to satisfy your needs at that point of time.

In fact  all your behaviour is governed by your intrinsic motivation to satisfy your needs.

Yes  your needs influence your behaviour

A Tattoo is a Sign – a Symbol – which satisfies a certain Need” 


The process of Human Behavior can be summarized in Four steps:

1. A Need is aroused within you

2. You behave in a way to satisfy the Need

3. The Need is satisfied

4. You relax

As I said earlier – a Tattoo is a Sign – a Symbol – which satisfies a certain Need”.

So  what do you think are the “needs” that motivate a person to have a Tattoo...?

If you already have a Tattoo – ask yourself:

What was the “need” that motivated you to get a Tattoo...?

Or  if you intend to get a Tattoo: 

What is the “need” that is motivating you get your body inked...?


Do you have a tattoo...?


You have a tattoo?

If you have a tattoo – do tell us:

What was the “Need” you wanted to satisfy by having a Tattoo...?

Was it the need for Thrill and a sense of Adventure...?

Did you have a Tattoo to satisfy your need to seek Attention...?

Or  is your Tattoo your way of expressing your sense of Rebellion in order to satisfy your needs for freedom or self-expression...?

Did you have a Tattoo due to Peer Pressure – to satisfy your need to belong  or for Conformance  or identification with a group...?

Historically  Tattoos were used to brand Slaves – so maybe you wanted to be “branded” as someone’s “slave” – so you got that person’s name tattooed on your body.

Is that the reason you got your lover’s name tattooed on your body – to fulfill your need to show off your love – or to satisfy your need to be dominated...?

Did you want to display to the world that  you “belong” to your lover  and you are your lover’s “slave” – and vice versa...?

Is your Tattoo a Public Display of Affection (PDA)...?

What will happen if you break-up with your lover whose name is tattooed on your body...?

Someone once told me that people have “Secret Tattoos in hidden places on the body which no one can see – like at the base of the spine on the lower back just above the derriere – or – at even more intimate places. 

It is a mystery as to why people have such secret hidden Tattoos  but obviously  they are satisfying some need.

Maybe  some individuals have a need for secrecy – or a need for sensuality – or a need for exclusivity.

Or  maybe some get Tattoos because they have an inferiority complex  and want to show off that they are “hep” and fashionable.


They say that Tattoos are Expensive, Painful and Permanent.

I also heard that Tattoo Removal is even more expensive and painful.

I read an article once that in many cases Tattoo Removal may be ineffective.

I do not know whether it is true  but someone told me that  it is impossible to actually remove a Tattoo – you can lighten it, nothing more

Or – you can get a “cover up” artiste to “fix” your Tattoo and improve its appearance.

However – if you remove a permanent tattoo – you may never get back the flawless skin that you had before you got the tattoo done – and – ugly scars may remain.

If your skin is sensitive  it may get damaged or discoloured forever.

I am sure that before a person decides to have a Tattoo done on their body  they know all these implications.

But their “need” to have a Tattoo creates a desire is so strong and overpowering  that it motivates them to go ahead and satisfy their need by getting a Tattoo.

Like I said earlier  historically  Tattoos were used to brand Slaves and Animals.

A Tattoo was a sign of slavery. 

If the owner’s name was tattooed on the slave or animal – the Tattoo signified Ownership – and maybe it is the same “Need for Ownership which makes lovers tattoo each other’s names on their bodies. 

In ancient times  Tattoos were used as a mode of communication between spies.

Once upon a time  members of some Mafia used to wear Symbolic Tattoos to identify as members of a certain crime syndicate.

Seamen and Sailors came back with Tattoos  a tradition that would soon become associated with men of the sea.

But  all this happened in ancient times.

I wonder why so many people have Tattoos in this modern age.

Dear Reader: 

If you have a tattoo  do tell us: 

“Why did you have a Tattoo...?” 

If you intend getting a tattoo inked on your body – do tell us: 

“Why do you want to have a Tattoo...?” 

Is your Tattoo a symbol of “slavery” – to show the world that you belong to someone...?

Is your Tattoo an expression of “freedom” – to assert your personality...? 

Is your Tattoo just a “fashion statement”...? 

Or – is there some other motivation for your Tattoo...?

Do tell us: What is the significance of your Tattoo...? 

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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1. These are my personal views. Whether to tattoo or not to have a tattoo is your prerogative, but do so with due diligence. 
2. This story is a spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
3. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. All examples and tips are illustrative in nature. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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