Is that spelled E-A-G-E-R or E-A-G-R-E? A look into the world of tattoos.

The classic risqué mermaid that ribbons when the muscle is flexed. The unique Chinese symbol etched on the forearm. The “Mom” surrounded by angel’s wings. Tattoos are no secret. They are a performance. A gripping story that the bearer endures and shares.

Tattoos have always intrigued me. On other people, they are awesome. The intricate detail that speaks volumes. The colors and outlines that mesh into a background transpiring time. They tell a story. A history. On me? There’s more of a chance of the Boston Red Sox offering their star player to the New York Yankees free of charge.

TLC has adopted shows such as LA Ink and Miami Ink. Spike sports Ink Master. A&E’s Inked and Tattoo Highway have blared out among television screens across the country. There is a pressing need and desire of the American public to experience, if only from a distance, the volume of what it means to secure a tattoo. Therefore, there is obviously more to tattoos than the embarrassing “Amber” ex-girlfriend tattoo strategically placed on the forearm that mocks regretful ex-boyfriends.

While I have seen quite a few of the many tattoo shows on television, I have never researched this topic. Like Oz, there is a man hiding behind the curtain of tattoos about whom I want to learn. His tricks, his flashy shows, and his subsequent humbling appearance.

I intend to write a feature article about tattoos. Once I begin researching, I will narrow down the topic. As of now, some of my ideas include the motivation behind tattoos or tattoos in the educational field. As a teacher, I am eager to interview teachers who don tattoos and to ask them about their experiences as such. In my district, teachers are able to flaunt their tattoos; in others, tattoos must remain hidden under layers of clothing. I intend to interview teachers from different districts in both the public and private sector to gain their insight and experiences in the professional field.

A feature article, unlike a work of fiction, will allow for wit, sarcasm, and the boiled down truth about tattoos to take place that may otherwise be lost in a short story or work of poetry. I intend to keep the same voice in which I have written this entry. However, once I begin the researching process, I may find that I need to revamp my genre, and I am open to change and reformation. Tattoos are universal, as there are several tattoo magazines and television shows, and this topic will have an appeal for a larger readership.

This research topic lends itself to several different archives. I plan on interviewing people with tattoos, especially teachers and administrators. As such, there is a teacher in my district who shows off her double sleeves every day. A friend of hers, however, in another district, is not allowed to show any ink. I would love to interview both of them to gain their perspective on this issue as well as other educations in the field.

I also plan on going into a tattoo parlor or tattoo parlors to interview the shopkeeper and tattoo artists. With any luck, while I am there, I can speak with someone getting a tattoo. It is my hope that these interviews will propel me into other realms of discovery about tattoos. In addition, several tattoo magazines exist, and I plan on leafing through them to gather more knowledge about the world of tattoos. This is an open topic that will allow for me to engage in several types of research archives, and these magazines will offer several angles to pursue.

Researching tattoos will be no easy task. Never have I set foot into a tattoo parlor, and I imagine the experience might be something like that of a western—the out-of-towner walks through the saloon doors to find the bar music immediately stopping with heads turning to inspect the unfamiliar face. It will require me to speak to people with deep stories and heartache for each tattoo. While I will attempt to maintain the I-belong-here-face, I will respect the environment and continue to gain insight into an extraordinary atmosphere.

The following are publications that would consider such a work. To begin, Rethinking Schools is a magazine that circulates in all 50 states as well as Canada and internationally. The magazine promotes social justice in the educational field. While several articles are committed to issues of race, tattoos are an intricate part of the social field that would attract readers to the sense of belonging. In addition, Ink Fashion is a magazine that sports the latest trends in tattoos. Huffington Post is a publication that values articles on entertainment. What better place to establish an article about tattoos? The Huffington Post has published several articles highlighting tattoos in entertainment (such as an RIP Brian Griffin tattoo),  and my article would be a good fit with a new twist.

I am eager to come away with a new understanding from this experience. Researching about tattoos will challenge my thinking and allow me to enter a domain quite unfamiliar to myself.

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10 comments

  1. Rachel,

    I think you have found an excellent topic, one with many different possibilities. Fascinating that different school districts have rules for whether their teachers can show their tattoos.

    Unfortunately, the huge Philly Tattoo convention was held early this year and as a result you won’t be able to go there and really dive into the culture.

    The biggest challenge for you, I think, will be finding a way into the community without being too much of an outsider–especially because you don’t have tattoos yourself. Our readings will provide you will suggestions for how to gain access, accept your position as outsider, and still find way to engage and talk with people. Your teacher friends who have tattoos may be able to give you introductions, but don’t rely on them too heavily.

    I look forward to seeing what you find!

    BW

  2. Hi Rachel,

    Thought your posts on the tattoo world so far were fascinating. I also didn’t know that school districts had rules on whether or not teachers could show their ink. I have one tattoo and always wanted to get another one, so I am excited to hear what you find out! Good luck.

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