Tattoos are quickly becoming a popular trend in Western culture. Since ancient Egypt, and even before that, they have been a statement of beauty and art. They're also found in numerous indigenous cultures around the world. Tattoos have long sparked debate, despite their widespread use. Trudy Kazangu, a Chase photographer and blogger, discovered that inked skin is still frowned upon, particularly in African households. As a result, she agreed to meet up with Selene and Miquy for a discussion and photo session. They talk about what it's like to be a tattooed black woman.
Selene: I'm a 22-year-old Graphic Design and Advertising student. Brussels is where I live and study, and I adore it. I've had tattoos since I was 16 years old, and I have 11 of them. Back then, I started with ear stretchers since in Belgium, you can't have tattoos until you're 18, and even then, only with your parents' consent. I got my first tattoo when I turned eighteen. In retrospect, it was quite a large work. I did it without my parents' knowledge or consent. Back then, I was a rather rebellious young person.
"In my culture, tattoos are seen as a bad thing"
I was raised in a traditional African household. Tattoos are considered a horrible thing in my culture, and they are strongly discouraged. Especially when it comes to women. Parents in Africa are concerned that their children would be criticized and marginalized because of their tattoos. They believe that having tattoos on one's body and having one's face pierced leads to unemployment. In that aspect, I've had no issues. They must recognize that things have changed. That is no longer the case.
Miquy: I'm a visual merchandiser for H&M, and I'm 30 years old. I have 18 tattoos on my body. In my line of work, I'm unlikely to encounter any issues with my tattoos. Tattoos and piercings are very common in the fashion world; they are a part of the scene. I became interested in tattoos when I was 22 years old, but it took another two years for me to acquire one. The phrase "Shawshank" was my first tattoo, a homage to the movie "The Shawshank Redemption." I had it placed on the inside of my forearm, which is a fairly inconspicuous location.
" I still do feel the eyes on me when I walk in the street"
I was raised in a religious African family and have always felt like an outsider. They used to chastise me for my tattoos, but I believe they got used to it. They don't appear to be bothered by it any longer. When I walk down the street, I still get the feeling of being watched. I'm not sure if they're admiring or inattentive, but I don't mind either way. People are simply intrigued by my appearance, which stands out in the streets. I'm a black woman with a shaved head, body tattoos, and a nose piercing. I should anticipate being noticed.
In the tattoo world, the most important thing is to avoid following any trends at all costs. Pieces that are trendy are neither ageless nor personal. You should get a tattoo because you desire one, not because someone else has one. Simply be yourself.
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