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This Week In The Khuta – Emotions on a permanent canvas

The skin is the largest organ of the human body. Just like any part of the body it has several functions, for example, keeping germs out and regulating the body’s temperature. But it can also  beautify the body through the work of art.
Tattooing, which started off as mere tribal markings across the world (Africa precisely) evolved into a trend of which only the holders know the meaning and not hundred other tribe mates.
It became and has become a characteristic of postmodern fashion. A “carnival of signs” as Tseelon called it in his 1995 book titled, The manqué of femininity: the representation of woman in everyday life.
A carnival of signs so it has been since mid-to late 1980s until now.
As much as there is an increase in this trend, it has lead to a plethora of different perceptions, both negative and positive.
Negative perceptions usually are those from the non-tattooed. They see it as being untidy. Others say, it sends out a wrong message and impression to onlookers. Still others argue it is desecrating the human body which, from a religious perspective, is the home of the soul.
Such claims intrigued me to such an extent that I brought together a focus group of students, both the tattooed and the non-tattooed, at the University of Namibia (Unam). The non-tattooed students where asked why they don’t have any tattoos.
A student justified that not having a tattoo was because of parental rules but she had plans to obtain one once she left their house.
A third year media student said, “there are just too many negative perceptions out there that’s why I don’t have one, but I would get one and it would be of my father’s name because I look up to him.”
While a student next to him said she doesn’t have one because as a girl she feels having one may ruin a girl’s image, for a girl is seen as a delicate being and tattoos may just distort that image.
One interesting non-tattooed student was a second year female student with a total of fourteen facial piercings. In as much as she’s addicted to pain (evidently by the number of facial piercings) getting a tattoo is a no-go area because she said it’s a life time mark and can’t ever be washed off.
All in all the non-tattooed had one reason in common and that was they couldn’t stand the pain it is associated with.
In as much as the non-tattooed were so much chatty about not having a tattoo the tattooed students didn’t shy away but were just as much expressive. They wanted people to understand them.
A media studies student said, his tattoo is a symbol of a strong outward expression of emotion embedded on a permanent canvas that can never be washed away, while another said her tattoo is what differentiates her from her sister because they awfully look alike.
One economics student said, “My tattoo says “life goes on” and it’s a symbol of my strength” while another said, “I have a tattoo of a Dragon and it symbolises my Chinese birth year”.
Both sets of students agreed that people should not look at tattooed people and judge them because there is a meaning and a reason behind the markings.

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