IN THE FACE. A LIFE STORY OF THE VISIBLE TATTOO WEARER, FROM THE POINT THEY GOT IT, TO THE POINT OF REMOVAL.

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2019-08-14
Language
en
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Abstract
The focus of this thesis is to discover the main reasons why people decided to get a visible tattoo, what meaning this tattoo contains and how this meaning can shift over time to the point of removal. To study this, a qualitative study was conducted among 11 visibly tattooed people in the Netherlands, who live on welfare. The main source of data was semi-structured interviews and in-depth interviews. The results of this study demonstrate the importance of identity throughout the entire process, from the decision to get a tattoo until the decision to remove their tattoo. When deciding on getting a tattoo, the tattoo becomes an enhancement of their personal identity. As most of the participants described their older selves as being deviant, rebellious and stubborn, the visible location of their tattoo reflects these identity characteristics. By choosing a visible tattoo they show resistance towards the norms on bodily appearance and therefore it enhances their rebellious characteristic. Their perceptions of these tattoo has changed over the years, due to various factors. One of these factors is negative attitudes from others due to the prevailing stigma of visible tattoos. How this stigma influences people differs. People who strongly identify with being tattooed are not influenced by negative attitudes. However, people who impulsively decided on getting their tattoos tend to be influenced by this stigma. In order to appear ‘normal’ they adjust their behaviour, by hiding their tattoos. The second factor that influences peoples own perception towards their tattoo is a shift in identity that can occur over the years. The personal identity as well as the social identity can shift over time. This shift in identity can result in a disassociation from the past. Their tattoo is often the only visible reminder of the person they used to be, and therefore people choose to get it removed, as this is the last step to realise this shift
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Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen