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What’s In The Tattoo? Things To Remember Before You Get ‘Inked’ For Life

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By Mahitha Kasireddi:

Barack Obama and Michelle have known to discipline their daughters in order to keep them away from getting tattoos by warning them that even the couple would get tattoos on their faces and it would go on YouTube. Some have appreciated this as a mark of good parenting and others sympathize with the two girls.

The growing popularity of tattooing has triggered arguments and observations such as judging tattoos verses judging tattooed people. I have no idea about the different designs and what they symbolise, but it is interesting to see how intriguing people get when they come across someone who’s totally draped himself/herself with ink.

tattooOn asking why do people get tattoos, the opinions that you come across are of those who bear preconceived notions in mind and are actually confused with the contemporary culture. But, if you ask me, I’d say if it is a culture it has to be respected. Expressing this confusion turns into holding tattooed people in scorn in societal circles.

A stereotype that getting something done externally is for attention will never fade. But, what also remains true is that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Opinionists label tattooed people as shouting personalities, showing off what they are or prejudiced to be suffering an underlying psychological issues (keeping in mind the amount pain involved in the process), doing drugs, unhygienic, hipster, ill-mannered, often engage in nocturnal activities, no steady career etc. Some term it as desperation for making an identity which wasn’t there among the youth about two decades ago. Writing attitude statements and different quotations on the skin is seen like wearing your facebook status. These people are often treated in a hostile manner and mainly face discrimination while looking for job opportunities. Girls face a never ending scrutiny for this, confronting moral judgement and prejudices against character and considered very active sexually. To put it straight, almost treated as second class citizens. These judgments might be true to certain extent but, if someone wants to get a tattoo, it is plainly his/her choice. Everyone is rightfully entitled to make such a personal choice and should be respected for that.

Why do people get tattoos? The answer to this would be several reasons and sometimes there might not be any. It is just the love for art that drives one into getting it done. While scars on your body have a story to tell it’s the same with tattoos. People get them drawn as a memoir of an event or a visited place or as a respect for a lost love. The tattoo shall work as a trigger for people to get back to times and think of a past happening. Religious minded people get a ‘cross’ or an ‘om’ done to express their beliefs. There are exclusive tattoos which tell that a person was in military or navy, sporting one would be such a pride. Some also might get them in a whim. It is more of a conglomeration of art, culture and emotion.

Medical experts lately have been advocated at large about the skin ailments due to the ink and also the cost and pressure in a prolonged procedure to undo a permanent professional tattoo. In the beginning, the side effects were attributed to the practices of tattoo artists but this is just to a negligible extent. After investigation it was found that a bacteria makes way in to the ink during manufacturing it. The ink sinks in to the layers of the skin specially the epidermis which leads to rashes and cancer in serious cases. Though the practitioners sterilized the needles and other equipment after use they use un-sterilized water to dilute the ink, this may also be a reason.

In order get a tattoo removed laser treatment seems the only way which is also costly. For a professional tattoo which has a lot of ink filled in the skin, it would require around 15-20 sessions with each session costing really high. The process requires a lot of patience after which you cannot expect the ink to wash out totally but might just fade away leaving behind a light impression of it. After all the skin is skin, cannot be a canvas.

All this can be avoided by being careful while purchasing the ink, possible natural dyes, and going to only licensed professionals. It requires a great deal of commitment to get a permanent one as it has to worn for a life time. Never get one unless you are sure you want it. Putting aside dealing with criticism, getting a tattoo in a whim will cost a lot if you grow up to regret it later on.

You must be to comment.
  1. duder

    no sources. lots of hearsay.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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