Why People Get Tattoos: Reading Comprehension

Why People Get Tattoos: Reading Comprehension

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Why People Get Tattoos





Jack is getting a tattoo on his legJack lay, quiet and unmoving, for thirty minutes while a stranger repeatedly stabbed him with sharp needles, causing blood to pour steadily out of his leg. Jack was getting a tattoo. His friend Tony had recently gotten a tattoo, and Jack was so impressed by Tony's bravery and his tattoo that he decided to get one too. Getting a tattoo because your friends and peers have them is just one of the reasons why a lot of young people in North America get tattoos. Peer pressure, media influence, and personal expression are some of the common reasons for wearing tattoos today.

The desire to be part of a group, to be accepted by one's friends or peers, can have a great influence on what a person does. Sometimes, wearing a tattoo can be a sign that you belong to a certain group. Gangs often use special clothes and tattoos to identify their particular group. For example, in one gang all the members may wear green army jackets and have large 'Xs' tattooed on their arms. It is not only gangs that have this type of special 'uniform'. Young people often belong to a certain group of friends. Some of these groups wear only brand-name clothes. Some wear only black clothes. Others wear tattoos. When a person's friends are all doing something, such as getting a tattoo, that person is more likely to do the same thing, and get a tattoo too.

The media is another big influence behind the popularity of tattoos in North America. A wide variety of media images show tattoos. Tattoos can be seen on people appearing in commercials selling expensive cars. Famous sports heroes with tattoos are shown in magazines. Fashion models are often seen in magazines and on TV wearing designer clothes that show their bodies tattooed with detailed and colourful patterns. These media images link tattoos to ideas of wealth, success, and status. As a result, many people decide to get a tattoo for its fashion and status value.

It is not always the influence of other people or the media that results in a person getting a tattoo. Many people decide to wear tattoos in order to express their artistic nature, their beliefs, or their feelings -- in other words, to show their individuality. A musician in a rock band may get a tattoo of a guitar on the arm. Some environmentalists may tattoo pictures of endangered animals on their shoulders. Lovers may tattoo each others' names over their hearts. A tattoo can be a public sign to show what is important in a person's life.

As you can see, there are many reasons why young North Americans get tattoos. A tattoo can be part of a group's uniform. It can be a sign of fashion. It can be an expression of individuality. The decision to get a tattoo is most often a result of the influence of friends or media or the desire to express oneself. For Jack, it was a mixture of all three.



Credits:
Story by Charlotte Sheldrake, English Language Centre
Exercises by Deborah Albert, English Language Centre
Audio version performed by Cam Culham, English Language Centre
Clipart used with permission from Microsoft. Please see media restriction on our Terms of Use page.