Today, some people choose to be tattooed for cosmetic reasons such as those done to enhance eyebrows and to create a clear lip line or lip liner. Moles are even artificially created with the use of the tattoo. In this manner, the tattoo has been used as a permanent make up. In most countries in Asia, the tattoo has served as a good luck charm to the bearer and also as protection against evil.
A more practical use of the tattoo is identification. In Nazi concentration camps, prisoners were forcibly marked for purposes of identifying them. A more positive use of the tattoo as a means of identification is back in those times when Maori Chief signed official documents by imprinting the tattoo of his face on the document. Tattoos are also used for identifying burned victims. Since tattoos are inked in the deeper layer of the skin, they are not easily erased by burns. The tattoo has therefore aided pathologists in identifying otherwise unrecognizable burned and drowned individuals. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that tattoo parlors abound in ports because it is there where their customers are. Even deserters are marked as such in the British Army.
Tattoos are also placed on animals for identification in the same manner as branding. Branding on the other hand does not involve embedding ink onto the skin of animals.
An example of a medical use for the tattoo is when it is used to mark the spot for instruments to be properly located for application of radiotherapy. In the case of breast reconstruction after being treated for cancer, the tattoo has served to mark the spot for the areola. The tattoo is even used to tell medical information about the bearer. Clearly, the tattoo is no longer used solely for self-expression. We have found other uses for the tattoo as well. It is only fitting that we treat this new social phenomenon with an open mind in order to understand it better.
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