My body matches my research – clean surface, no markings, a canvas ready to learn. Just as my skin is free of stencils and ink, my mind is like a fresh sketchbook: filled with blank pages that soon will be laced with information, insight, and a continued appreciation.
There are several realms and topics within tattoos that I could investigate. This post will sort through ideas that I have in regard to beginning my research. While I intend to organize my thoughts, I am treating this research blog much like I treat teaching: I state now that I am not in control of where my research takes me. Teaching has proven that any amount of planning can always get erased by an outside force–inclement weather, a last-minute assembly, or a brilliant comment made by a student that switches the gears of the entire lesson. Therefore, I am laying out my ideas, but always in the back of my mind is the thought, “This can always get thrown off, and that is okay.”
Behind Door Number One: On Thursday, February 20, 2014 I attended a local workshop in South Jersey with two other eighth grade teachers. The room was freezing, the folding chairs were like sitting on metal bleachers, and the presenters were as fascinating as watching slugs race. The workshop itself was geared towards middle and high school students and attempted to highlight the economic demand for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) workers. Essentially, the workshop attempted to deter teachers from suggesting students enter fields such as psychology, philosophy, or any type of liberal arts field because they will not make money, and the need for workers is not present in those fields.
As an English teacher, I rolled my eyes. And yawned. And held my tongue as my field continued to get bashed. However, one topic the presenters addressed was tattoos in the workplace and, more specifically, during interviews. The presenters surmised that having a visible tattoo will eliminate any chance of getting hired because of the level of competition that those without tattoos bring to the table. One of the areas I am highly considering to research is tattoos in the workplace. In what fields is it acceptable to have a tattoo, and one that is visible? In what field is it frowned upon, and in what type of business is it not allowed? And why? What is it about tattoos that scares employers?
These questions lead me to Door Number Two: What images are socially acceptable? And, as such, in what locations on the body does society deem appropriate, and why? Where would a huge spider tattoo on the back of one’s calf measure up against a flower on the top right of the back? While there will be some who interpret each tattoo differently, it seems as though society has deemed certain people with certain images on certain locations as Untouchables. Why?
Door Number Three deals with athletes. I don’t have to have ESPN on longer than thirty seconds before a picture of an athlete comes up sporting a tattoo. In basketball especially (where more skin is exposed than football, baseball, or hockey), players run around the court with their forearms, necks, and legs coated in tattoos. Check out Chris Andersen, “Birdman,” and I rest my case. Why are there so many athletes with tattoos? And why is it acceptable for basketball players to run up and down the court covered in ink when it is not acceptable for business men and women?
Door Number Four attempts to analyze the motivation behind tattoos. What lies behind the need for something to permanently remain on the body? Why do some people memorialize family members while others hop into parlors giggling and saying, “I don’t really know what I want. Maybe a heart or a flower or something.”
As of now, these are the areas that I will most likely focus. Of course, a new idea could completely shift my attention. Bring on the colors. And the Birdman.