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Body Art: Tattoo Crazy Hits Zimbabwe

In Zimbabwe and the world over, the young generation and fashion enthusiasts are embracing tattoos and it is not surprising that many are spotting the marks all over their bodies. 

Tattoos are markings made by inserting ink into the skin to change the pigment for decorative purposes, among other reasons.

The tattooing for art’s sake has become popular in the country with the sight of a tattoo on someone’s shoulder, hip or ankle becoming commonplace — they are now a social trend. 

Though practiced at a low level locally in the past, the practice has been alive in certain parts of the world since time immemorial.
Tattoos are a Common Culture in America 

There are two types of tattoos — permanent and temporary. The former requires a minor operation for one to be marked. These tattoos have various meanings and usually come in different shapes and sizes. 

Some people wear tattoos primarily for cosmetic, sentimental or religious reasons. However, to some it is a form of art, while to others it is a source of living.

“I have been doing this for the past two decades and I have been leading a modest life. On a daily basis I make around US$70 depending on the number of people I would have drawn,” said Gutsa.

“The fact that I live in the “coloureds” community has made my life easy. They constitute the bulk of my clients.” Gutsa said the tattoo prizes depend on the size, shape and features of the marking. 

“The cheapest and simplest plain tattoo goes for US$25 and usually takes a few minutes to draw, but those with complicated features can take long and don’t usually come cheap,” she said.

Some women said they were embracing tattoos as a way of beautifying their bodies. “As a modern lady I could not do with a plain body no wonder I had my arms drawn to enhance my looks. I always get compliments when I walk in town because of these tattoos,” said Emmaculate Phiri.

While tattoos have long served as fashion statements, some people are, however, now using them to warn others of their medical conditions. Some medical tattoos are being used to take the place of bracelets that commonly list a person’s allergies, chronic diseases or even end-of-life wishes.

A medical practitioner who requested anonymity said: “Bracelets are common medical indicators, but something as strong as a tattoo offers a simple and permanent way to send a strong statement about one’s medical condition of importance.” 

 Observers attributed the popularity of tattoos in Zimbabwe to the compression of the world into a global village. While it is proving that there are many reasons as to why tattoos are becoming popular in Zimbabwe, peer-pressure tattoos are part of today’s popular culture forcing youths to open up to this new phenomenon.

Foreign performing artists — especially musicians — have also contributed to the popularity of tattoos. “The coming to Zimbabwe of popular musicians from western countries,’ has resulted in an influx of tattoo among locals who mimic their favourite artists,” said Drien Ncube of Masasa.

“Well-equipped tattoo studios use bio-hazard containers for objects that come into contact with blood or other body fluids, sharp objects and functional sterilising equipment. We usually open sterilised or disposable needles and equipment in the client’s presence to assure the later of safety standards.”

Historically, tattoos were considered an important aspect of pop culture and even of certain mafias. With these negative connotations, some religious people consider tattooing as a pagan or heathen activity. 

Some religious communities discourage tattooing citing the Old Testament book of Leviticus which says: “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.” This creed against tattooing caused some people to shun.

In the United States of America tattooing is the sixth-fastest-growing retail business. 

The single fastest growing demographic group seeking tattoo services is middle-class suburban women. Tattooing is recognised by the United States government as both an art form and a profession. – Online Sources 

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