The subject of tattooing is very near and dear to my heart. Near, in that my entire chest is covered in ink. Not that any of my co-workers know.
It seems to be a misconception that the majority of people with tattoos are the lowest caste of a society ("Council Zeroes in on Tattoo Parlors," Street Talk, April 18). They are portrayed in movies as robbers, killers and, at the very least, unproductive and dishonest members of society.
I am a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, with a bachelor's degree in accounting. I am in the process of getting my CPA. I am a corporate accountant for a multibillion-dollar Richmond company. I am the band leader of a contemporary Christian rock band at a church on Monument Avenue. I have no criminal record. And I have tattoos.
The people that I know who operate tattoo studios are concerned for the well-being of their customers and their neighbors, more so than their own profit. They are active and constructive taxpaying members of our community. They are business leaders and activists. The owner of Trademark Tattoo has been a strong voice in Richmond to raise awareness for the situation in Darfur. The owners of Salvation Tattoo Gallery and tattoo artists from River City Tattoo consistently donate art to auctions for the Faison School for Autism.
The people who own tattoo studios are able to do something they love as a career, which is a dream come true. They are not restricted to "body art," but are artists of all mediums who have art openings all over the country.
I think the issue more at hand is their integrity. Is DILLIGAF an acronym you want to explain to your kids? Probably not. But, as it has been found time and time again, tattooing and the ability to maintain a business tattooing with no further restrictions than any other business is a constitutional right.
The people who own tattoo shops seem to me, from personal experience as my friends and more than 40 hours of work on my body as professionals, to know more about real life. Not the American-dream façade, but the tragedy going on every day, all over the world. They are more politically mindful than the average person. They care about things like First Amendment Rights, the environment, civil liberties here and abroad, and their local communities ... not just filling up the SUV with 93 octane to take the kids to soccer practice.
I for one am tired of being seen as a second-class citizen because I have tattoos. People need to spend more time reflecting on the kind of person they are and want to be and less time judging people they don't even know. C. Arflin
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