The time that tattoos were only about improving your look or giving you a certain image is long past. Today, tattoos nearly always have a personal meaning to the wearer. Plus, they now often refer to social themes and good causes.
Tattoos for the fight against famine
In February of this year, the Swedish top soccer player Zlatan Ibrahimovic played an extraordinary game. His team Paris Saint-Germain played against Caen and after scoring a goal, the controversial soccer player lifted up his shirt and showed off his torso, which was completely covered in tattoos. It landed him a yellow card. At the next press conference, Ibrahimovic declared that he couldn’t care less about that yellow card. He had the names of 15 starving people tattooed onto his body, with temporary tattoos. By baring his torso he wanted to bring attention to all the famine in the world. Ibrahimovic added that he would have liked to have the names of all the starving people in the world tattooed on his body, but that would be 805 million of them. “I receive all kinds of encouragement every week, but there are so many people who never get any encouragement from anyone. They need attention too. As an ambassador of the World Food Program, I want to make sure they get it.”
Ibrahimovic is not the only one who uses tattoos for a good cause. Tattoo artists all over the world have been noticing a shift in their clients for years already. Whereas in the past people would request the same, impersonal tattoos – think of sailor tattoos, tribal tattoos, skulls, etc. – now people are more inclined to ask for tattoos that have some special meaning. They often relate to social themes and good causes. One of the most requested ‘charity tattoos’ is the pink ribbon tattoo, a symbol that promotes attention to breast cancer. For some people this is because they lost a loved one to the illness (in that case the tattoo is often accompanied by the name of the deceased), as something to gain strength from during the treatment, or simply because they want to support the action. You can find all kinds of varieties of them:
The fight for equal rights for gays and lesbians is not over yet, so it’s not surprising that ‘gay pride’ is a popular theme in charity tattoos. They come in all shapes. From striking rainbow-colored tattoos to subtle love tattoos, which may or may not have a hidden meaning.
One symbol that is used a lot is the pink triangle. It refers to the Nazi concentration camps where homosexuals were forced to wear a pink triangle on their coat.
Some people turn it into something humorous or something really nerdy:
Henk Schiffmacher, aka the Tattoo King of Amsterdam, wanted to do his part after the tsunami in Japan. He started an action where people could pick a tattoo and instead of paying him they had to donate the amount to the tsunami aid organizations. Rather than humanitarian aid, because he felt Japan was wealthy enough, the money was to go to rebuilding the country and in particular the cultural heritage that had been destroyed. Schiffmacher’ action got a tremendous amount of support. “It ended up spreading to England and the US. In Japan itself and even in countries as far as Italy and Spain, tattoo artists participated in the action. People would come in and say, ‘I’ve always wanted to get a tattoo; now I’m doing it.’” The action collected between 6000 and 7000 Euros.
Everybody their own goal?
Of course, there are innumerable good causes that can be conceived of: environmental organizations, children’s rights, animal rights, etc. Tattoos, whether they are temporary or permanent, are the ideal way to bring attention to a theme that is close to your heart. In this way, you automatically become an ambassador for it. Designing temporary tattoos is really easy. Take a look here.