Scar Tissue

4 03 2010

The term tattoo was first referenced in the journal of Joseph Banks in 1769, aboard the “Endeavour”, as he described the natives’ markings. He stated, “Each of them is so marked by their humor or disposition.”

What was true 400 years ago is true today.

We don’t get to choose the shape of our nose, the color of our eyes or the texture of our hair. These genetic attributes are out of our hands and may not express to the outside world the person we see ourselves as. Tattoos speak silently from the skin, expressing who we are in the exact way we chose, forever.

Everyone knows that tattoos are created by injecting ink into the skin via needles. But the process is a bit more in-depth than that. Tattooing damages the epidermis and upper dermis and introduces a foreign substance into the body. This activates the immune system to release phagocytes, which engulf these pigment particles. As the healing process progresses, the damaged epidermis flakes off, removing the pigment from the skin’s outer surface. Deeper below, granulation tissue is formed and then converted to connective tissue by the eventual growth of collagen.  At this point the upper dermis is repaired, but the pigment remains trapped between the epidermis and dermis.

Most tattoo enthusiasts will agree that the pain of tattooing actually enhances the experience in some way. To me there is much meaning and symbolism in going through a process of pain and damage, then a healing process and eventually coming out the other side with something beautiful.

Since the word tattoo was first recorded those few hundred years ago, I think millions of people who have gone under the needle once or twenty times would report similar sentiments.

In the famous words of Madonna, “Express yourself!”

*Yes, the title of this post is also a reference to my obsession with Anthony Kiedis and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

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