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A Tribe of My Own

Some decisions in life are easy ones to make, while others aren't. Decisions regarding body modification have to be thoroughly considered before committing yourself to them. Such things as ritual modifications (suspension, pulling, kavadi), tattoos, and body piercings can have major implications on a spiritual, emotional, and even social levels. These are all things to keep in mind when getting any body modification done. While some body modifications are gaining in popularity, it doesn't mean that they are totally accepted by society in general yet.

I've had to make these decisions for myself. I can also speak from personal experience about how society treats those with body modifications that some view as irresponsible, abnormal, or just plain weird. That's one reason I've made some of the decisions that I have. I decided to get my neck tattooed. If you are concerned with others perceptions of you, then neck tattoos aren't something for you to consider. However, if you are comfortable with yourself and your body, then it is something to keep in mind. I have been called many things not the least of which has been "loser".

In some ways I can understand why a person with extremely visible modifications might be called a loser. The more visible a modification is, the harder it may become to find employment, a life partner, even a place to live. It doesn't change who the person is inside. I'm one of the easiest going and friendliest people that most people could hope to meet, but I am treated like a freak because I choose to decorate my body and express myself in ways that aren't deemed socially acceptable.

There are many reasons why I tattooed my neck, but most importantly, I did it for me. Now, let me explain how I came to my decision to do it, and how it was done. I had decided, prior to getting a piece of tribal on the left side of my neck, to get my neck tattooed. I had gotten a MuDvAyNe pentagram on the right side as an identifying tattoo. I wanted it visible, because I always had people saying they knew me from somewhere, but couldn't remember my name. I also had a Kanji tattoo done on the back of my neck meaning "ghost". It wasn't a big deal to get another neck tattoo, I was already considered a loser.

There was a difference though in getting the left side of my neck tattooed. I was getting a piece of tribal work done that most who are unaware of tattoo history, were usually done as facial or neck tattoos. I was embracing a completely different culture. Tribal tattoos have been most commonly associated with various seafaring tribes throughout history. Most commonly and recently, the Maori of Australia and New Zealand. That's what body modification means to me. Embracing and accepting other cultures. For many cultures, body modification has been used as a rite of passage, or spiritual event.

I walked into Spectrum Tattoo and Piercing Studio with a plan in mind. I wanted something new, but I also wanted something with meaning. I looked through several books of flash, but nothing was striking my fancy. I have never been a fan of tribal tattoos, as I don't physically belong to any tribe. Tribal tattoos are important to the culture they come from, as they hold meaning for them, but don't hold as much meaning for the rest of us. That's why when I saw a piece of tribal I liked, I was shocked. I saw it, and thought to myself, "That's exactly what I want!!!" By getting it, I could in essence show that I support and embrace every culture that has helped body modification evolve.

I showed my friend and tattoo artist Shawn Moores the design, and he said that he would do it for me fairly cheap. He asked where I was considering placing it, and he was surprised when I said I wanted along the side of my neck. He knew that I had tattoos on my neck already, but he wanted to make sure it was what I wanted. I explained my feelings and made sure he knew that I understood the implications. Reluctantly, he agreed to do it on my neck. Most who get neck tattoos generally want small Kanji tattoos that are barely visible, but I wanted something that no one could miss.

He pulled out a stencil of the tattoo, and we viewed it together to see various angles for placement. We opted to go for a slight angle down the side of the throat, below my ear. It's possible to hide it if necassary, but visible enough that others can view it as well. With exact placement chosen, we were ready to begin. He laid a paper towel on a mirror, this is the work space the artists use for laying out supplies.Putting sterile gloves on, Shawn reached into the bottom drawer of the cabinet, and pulled out two autoclave bags. One containing an outline needle, and the other containing a shading needle. He then layed out two guns, one for each operation of the tattoo. Next came a package of A&D ointment that he opened and dispensed into a pile on the paper towel. A&D is used for moisturizing the area during the tattoo process. A small cap was dipped in the A&D and set on another area of the paper towel. Shawn then dripped black ink into the cap. The packages containing th e needles were opened, and the needles placed in the guns. It was time to further become a "loser".

Shawn changed gloves, and pulled a disposable razor out, and a paper towel. He sprayed alcohol on the paper towel, and began to shave the area to be tattooed. With the shaving out of the way, he sprayed the stencil down, and placed it on the area we agreed upon. He started the tattoo machine up, stepped on the pedal, and drew ink into the needle. Placing the needle to the skin, he again stepped on the pedal, and the tattoo began. There was very little pain during the initial outline, only the drone of buzzing my ear. Finishing the outline in less than ten minutes, it was time for coloring. Again, I felt no real pain, only the insistent hum and buzz as the gun did it's thing.

The entire process took less than twenty minutes, but the effect will last a lifetime. Shawn bandaged the area up, and handed me a tube of A&D ointment. I was to wash it twice a day with anti-bacterial soap, and apply a light coating of A&D after each time. When using the ointment, the area should look dry, but feel moist. If it's shiny, it means that too much has been applied, and the excess should be wiped off with a paper towel. It healed up very nicely following this regimen. Sometimes, neck tattoos can be difficult to heal, as movement can pull and tear the healing tissues. All in all, I'm glad I did follow through with this one. It looks good, feels good, and has boosted my self-confidence.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 01 Jan. 2003
in Tattoos

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Artist: Shawn+Moores
Studio: Spectrum+Tattoo+and+Body+Piercing+Studio
Location: Sidney%2C+OH

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