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Cultural Appropriation and tattoos


Zillah
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I've read some stuff before on 'teh interwebz' about cultural appropriation and tattoos, specifically around the idea that if you are of one culture and get a tattoo from another culture (specifically if the latter culture is considered a minority) that it somehow devalues their heritage and traditions.

Some blogs (I will not link to them here) take photos of people with tattoos they consider to be cultural appropriation and post them online, calling them racist. Specific tattoos that are targeted appear to be anything American Indian, Romany, or Dia de los Muertos related.

Thoughts?

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I once painted my face for halloween up like a sugar skull. I was really happy with it, until I read an article about cultural appropriation and I felt conflicted. This article tore strips into non-Mexican people who wore sugar skull makeup or had sugar skull tattoos.

I figured, as a white westerner, it's not up to me to decide if it's cultural appropriation or not. Then a friend of mine who is Mexican said she fully supported sugar skull makeup/tattoos. So... I guess the question is whether it is a case of cultural appropriation or not... the opinion on which seems to be pretty individual.

I guess get what you want then?

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Whenever I see ppl passing judgments like that against ppl they instantly disappear from my life. I don't care if it's tv or IRL, I have no time and zero tolerance for silly shit such as that/this. Just ill informed and ignorant ppl.

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I once painted my face for halloween up like a sugar skull. I was really happy with it' date=' until I read an article about cultural appropriation and I felt conflicted. This article tore strips into non-Mexican people who wore sugar skull makeup or had sugar skull tattoos. I figured, as a white westerner, it's not up to me to decide if it's cultural appropriation or not. Then a friend of mine who is Mexican said she fully supported sugar skull makeup/tattoos. So... I guess the question is whether it is a case of cultural appropriation or not... the opinion on which seems to be pretty individual. I guess get what you want then?[/quote']

Stop reading articles like that, they are written solely to make you question yourself, do what you wanna, painting your face up is not hurting a soul.

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One guy who got crap online was a custom tattoo designer from NZ called Sam Phillips (whose stuff I really like btw): Custom Tattoos - Sam Phillips - Artist . Illustrator . Graphic Designer

http://instagram.com/samphillipsillustration

His response was, "I've never claimed that my 'gypsy' designs are in any way historically accurate. There are many types of 'gypsys' not just Romanian. I use the term 'gypsy' loosely as a nomadic traveler. I'd say my work is more fantasy than anything. There are always going to be people that find offence in art. Art is interpretive."

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Stop reading articles like that' date=' they are written solely to make you question yourself, do what you wanna, painting your face up is not hurting a soul.[/quote']
One guy who got crap online was a custom tattoo designer from NZ called Sam Phillips (whose stuff I really like btw): Custom Tattoos - Sam Phillips - Artist . Illustrator . Graphic Designer http://instagram.com/samphillipsillustration His response was' date=' "I've never claimed that my 'gypsy' designs are in any way historically accurate. There are many types of 'gypsys' not just Romanian. I use the term 'gypsy' loosely as a nomadic traveler. I'd say my work is more fantasy than anything. There are always going to be people that find offence in art. Art is interpretive."[/quote']

What I mean to say is don't let reading articles or such as that drag you down. So many things today are cross culture or shared. You can get whatever tattoos you want.

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Thanks for posting (and for the link to the previous conversation). This is an interesting topic to me. I think many images we enjoy today are ultimately appropriated from somewhere. There are always going to be lines and we all will have to draw our own. Very few here, I would imagine, would get a tattoo of a white person in "blackface."

For me American Indian imagery tattoos has some parallels to the ongoing team mascot issue. I'm not a big internet arguer so I'm not wanting to get into all that here other than to say it bothers me personally and therefore getting an American Indian image tattoo crosses my personal line. That's not to say that another thoughtful person couldn't come to a different conclusion on this but I do appreciate this kind of discussion as a means to encourage thought and dialogue.

I'm more conflicted about religious imagery for tattoos. For example I am attracted to the idea of getting some kind of Buddha tattoo someday. I like the images and, as a recovering Catholic, I am drawn to many of the ideals of the religion. Are these good or bad reasons to get a tattoo? How about a Hindu image of which there are many that make amazingly awesome tattoos but I know basically nothing about the religion itself. If I read a book or two would that be enough? Am I overthinking this? Probably, I overthink most things.

Anyway, thanks for the interesting conversation. Now it's time to get back to my secular Easter celebration focusing on bunnies, eggs, chocolate and brunchy food.

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Get the tattoos you like and screw everyone who comes up with bullshit terms to try and make you feel guilty. Cultural appropriation... who ever came up with that should have gone to school for a real degree so that they could have contributed productively to society instead of trying to fragment it more.

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It's an entirely personal decision for me. I'm sticking to Western traditional tattoos for the time being since it's what feels comfortable to me, as one of the whitest people around. Doesn't mean I won't be thrilled for any of my white pals if they decide to get a full Japanese sleeve. (I don't have any white friends who are that cool, though.) Or that I can't admire white tattooers who produce top-notch tattoos in non-Western styles.

I will admit to feeling a little uncomfortable about Native American pinups, but they're also part of the tattoo vernacular. I'm sure there are plenty of progressive folks who tattoo, but the kind of shouty "social justice" that's practiced on Tumblr (which often seems to be about white people trying to outdo each other with regards to who can be the "best" ally) and tattooing seem sort of like oil and water to me.

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I think it's pretty simple and I'll use myself as an example.

Do you have a personal relationship with the imagery that you are getting tattooed?

I have three japanese tattoos that I got during my apprenticeship. One is a daruma on my inner bicep, and it has the kanji for "ginou" which means "technical skill." I got the daruma with the intention of one day becoming a technically skilled craftsman and I will probably never fill in the other eye because there is always room to grow.

The other two are designs that I picked from a book called "Japanese Design Motifs." and they are circular designs that sit on my inner forearms. They're floral, black only, and they're very beautiful; I get compliments on them all the time. Maybe a year later I learned that these motifs are actually Mon, which are the equivalent to family crests in Japan. I am not Japanese. I feel like shit about it and I want to get them covered up. I have even asked Jill Bonny about them and if I would offend anyone going to Japan with these on my arms. She said that it doesn't matter because the rules don't apply to westerners, but I'm probably going to get them covered anyway.

The daruma isn't cultural appropriation because I have a personal relationship with daruma as a symbol and a means of accomplishment within my own life. The Mon are appropriative because I took one look at the designs, thought "oh that looks cool, I'll get that tattooed" without any further thought or investigation into what they actually represent.

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I think it's pretty simple and I'll use myself as an example.

Do you have a personal relationship with the imagery that you are getting tattooed?

I have three japanese tattoos that I got during my apprenticeship. One is a daruma on my inner bicep, and it has the kanji for "ginou" which means "technical skill." I got the daruma with the intention of one day becoming a technically skilled craftsman and I will probably never fill in the other eye because there is always room to grow.

The other two are designs that I picked from a book called "Japanese Design Motifs." and they are circular designs that sit on my inner forearms. They're floral, black only, and they're very beautiful; I get compliments on them all the time. Maybe a year later I learned that these motifs are actually Mon, which are the equivalent to family crests in Japan. I am not Japanese. I feel like shit about it and I want to get them covered up. I have even asked Jill Bonny about them and if I would offend anyone going to Japan with these on my arms. She said that it doesn't matter because the rules don't apply to westerners, but I'm probably going to get them covered anyway.

The daruma isn't cultural appropriation because I have a personal relationship with daruma as a symbol and a means of accomplishment within my own life. The Mon are appropriative because I took one look at the designs, thought "oh that looks cool, I'll get that tattooed" without any further thought or investigation into what they actually represent.

This^, exactly this.

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Thanks @TrixieFaux and @BrianH for the links. I searched for cultural appropriation and it came up with nada. Apologies for rehashing something already discussed, although I have enjoyed reading the replies :)

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Thanks @TrixieFaux and @BrianH for the links. I searched for cultural appropriation and it came up with nada. Apologies for rehashing something already discussed, although I have enjoyed reading the replies :)

No apology needed. I just like to connect the dots with the older thread. Intetesting topics are bound to be rebooted as membership of LST turns over.

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I've read some stuff before on 'teh interwebz' about cultural appropriation and tattoos, specifically around the idea that if you are of one culture and get a tattoo from another culture (specifically if the latter culture is considered a minority) that it somehow devalues their heritage and traditions.

Some blogs (I will not link to them here) take photos of people with tattoos they consider to be cultural appropriation and post them online, calling them racist. Specific tattoos that are targeted appear to be anything American Indian, Romany, or Dia de los Muertos related.

Thoughts?

I'll bet none of the people writing these things are heavily tattooed or know close friends that are. The opinions of outsiders means nothing to me.

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Yeah, you really never see opinions as well-considered and informed as @cltattooing 's pop up in these discussions.

There's a lot of excellent writing about social justice-related topics online, and a lot of people who seem to show up for these discussions mostly to parrot or police other people.

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No apology needed. I just like to connect the dots with the older thread. Intetesting topics are bound to be rebooted as membership of LST turns over.

Exactly, no need to apologize @Zillah ...I just posted the link 'coz I remembered us chatting about the same topic, but not to be like--you should have posted there.....those threads get buried.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Yeah, I just saw one about "Yellow fever" getting Asian women tattooed on non Asians. That seemed kinda odd to me to do something like that if the woman was just a random representation and not a friend/family member.

So someone with a Jigoku Dayu tattoo now sybolizes that they have yellow fever? Okay there. That's about as ridiculous as that thing about koi fish and being gay. Where do people get this stuff?

So in regards to appropriating, my 2 cents. I can get what the nay sayers are trying to get at. Especially if the thing is a bastardization of their culture. I get that they may feel insulted. I may agree with them. Or I may not agree with everything somone may say but I have to respect their feelings to a degree so I can see where they're potentially coming from. Kind of like, say Japanese tattoos. "Hey you f'ed up by mixing seasons, and coloring water blue, and the subject doesn't follow the story properly. You have no respect for tradition. You can't be bothered to learn and depict a culture's myth accurately. Thus you're spitting on my culture. You're spitting on me.". People can have strong feelings about things. Then again appropriation and modification can lead to a potentially positive thing depending on how you look at it. Say when the Japanese "appropriated" the Chinese stories of the Suikoden, added elaborate tattoos onto the subject imagery, and started popularizing it among the people and getting it tattooed on themselves. If I understand correctly (correct me if I'm wrong too) I thought I read somewhere that the Japanese translation makes no sense from the original material. "Appropriation" was also positive when Caucasian foreigners had a desire to be tattooed with Japanese and other Asian motifs when Japan had banned its own citizens from being tattooed. Something to think about. What would have happened if appropriation hadn't occurred in these cases?

Whatever your opinion, can we all just agree we're happy Chris Brand is "appropriating" from the Japanese, what they "appropriated" from the Chinese, and putting his western spin on the tales?

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So someone with a Jigoku Dayu tattoo now sybolizes that they have yellow fever? Okay there. That's about as ridiculous as that thing about koi fish and being gay. Where do people get this stuff?

Is that what I said? No, that's a stretch. Yellow fever, as in the current cultural "creepy white man with Asian fetish" and it's objectification of Asian women because of their race. I, personally, think it's odd for a white guy to get a full rib piece (the sample I saw, but can't find it now) of a modern Asian woman in a sexualized pose simply because she's Asian. But that's me.

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