I have been racking my brain over the past few weeks in attempts to understand the public’s nasty perceptions of tattoos. Though acceptance has grown, there are still naysayers. These people who disagree with the spectacle that is body ink consider us a lower tier of citizen, a sheep among the wolves. We are said to suffer from low self-esteem, promiscuity and even mental illness.
The numbers of people with tattoos have increased. From the late 1930’s to the early 2000’s, we have created a united front by growing nearly 30 million in size. The reasons varying from wanting to fit in, memory of a loved one, religious reasons or purely from the tattoo’s design. Recently, I have discovered that there could be another reason for the source of a tattoo: healing powers.
From the Iban people of Borneo with their needles, the Mentawai people of Indonesia with their nails to the Kayabí of the Brazilian Amazon with their palm thorns; tattoos have inflicted pain in a myriad of ways. But do they also possess healing capabilities? In September of 1991, researchers uncovered Ötzi, also known as “the Iceman:” a name coined from his burial place in the Ötztal Alps on the border of Italy and Austria. This preserved mummy is covered with a total 57 tattoos ranging from rings around his left wrist, compacted lines on his ankles and lower back, and crosses etched under his right knee. A striking coincidence that around 80 percent of these tattoos were imprinted in places that classical Chinese acupressure points focus on to treat Rheumatism: a disease that causes problems affecting connective tissues and joints. The Iceman also had tattoos that went hand and hand with acupressure meridians that are used to treat other ailments. He was said to have suffered from back and stomach issues as well as arthritis.
Many female mummies apart of the Ancient Egyptian culture, were covered in tattoos. Along their abdomen, breasts and thighs they had dots resembling the edges of sewn nets weaved into their skin. It was believed this ink provided added protection during pregnancy.
Presently, the tattoo machine is being used to treat acne scars. The minuscule wounds inflicted through tattooing attract platelets and growth components without severely injuring the epidermis. Collagen then occupies the valleys of acne scars, leaving the skin smoother and less bumpy.
Most of these are facts regarding tattoos’ prowess in healing and others are more theoretical, but herein lies the real question: will these methods shine new light on tattoos ultimately causing acceptance to bloom in the eyes of the opposed as more medicinal effects come into the picture? More than anyone, I’m looking for a cease fire on us tattooed folk. If this is our shield, then I feel we have a pretty good chance to win the battle for acceptance.