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History of the Tattoo Culture in Singapore The
culture
of
a
“tattoo”
lifestyle
has
been
encircling
Singapore
society
for
a
 great
many
decades
now.
The
origins
of
tattoos
date
back
to
very
rich
histories
of
 traditions
in
a
number
of
countries,
thousands
and
thousands
of
years
ago.
From
 fending
away
sickness
to
being
a
symbol
of
belonging,
to
having
artistic
purpose
 –
the
justifications
behind
the
culture
of
tattoos
is
varied
and
alters
through
 different
civilizations
and
societies.
For
a
large
part
of
Singapore’s
narrative,
the
 concept
of
a
tattoo
culture
has
invariably
been
identified
with
criminality.
The
 Japanese
occupation
might
be
seen
as
the
occurrence
that
established
the
 beginnings
of
an
uncompromising
and
unsympathetic
attitude
towards
people
 with
tattoos,
in
Singapore.
The
Occupation
saw
the
Japanese
soldier
targeting
 people
with
tattoos
and
systematically
categorizing
them
as
part
of
an
anti‐ Japanese
syndicate.
There
was
no
space
for
the
deliberation
that
a
great
many
 Singaporeans
had
them
for
merely
decorative
intentions.

 This
single‐minded
typecast
persisted
through
the
50s
to
the
80s
and
tattoos
 continued
to
garner
scrutiny
as
having
unfavourable
insinuations.
It
came
to
be
 identified
with
the
notorious
secret
societies
of
Singapore.
Each
 society/gang/triad
discerns
itself
largely
by
the
tattoos
they
spot
on
their
bodies.
 This
is
the
image
that
came
to
be
affiliated
with
anti‐social
undertakings
and
 these
representations
were
branded
in
the
media
and
cam
to
be
associated
as
 having
very
detrimental
connotations
in
normal
society.

 In
the
present
day
Singapore
community,
the
notion
of
a
“tattoo
culture”
is
 becoming
increasingly
widespread
and
commonplace.
Many
youths
are
 progressively
intrigued
by
this
lifestyle
and
give
serious
thought
to
getting
a
 tattoo.
The
tattooed
community
expands
and
intensifies
each
day
and
it
is
not
 abnormal
to
see
some
people
with
small
tattoos,
others
with
more
moderate‐ sized
tattoos
and
even
some
with
sleeve
tattoos.

 Although
more
and
more
young
people
engage
in
this
tattoo
subculture,
the
 notion
of
its
tie
to
delinquency
perseveres.
People
who
participate
in
this
culture
 and
regard
it
as
a
lifestyle
are
impulsively
stereotyped
to
possess
certain
 assumptions.
They
are
generally
portrayed
by
mainstream
media
and
“normal”
 society
as
delinquent,
reckless,
defiant,
of
low
education,
and
even
criminal.

 Take
the
above
picture
as
an
example
of
such
internalized
prejudices
against
the
 tattooed
community
in
Singapore’s
eyes.
It
was
a
Yellow
Ribbon
Project
 Campaign
in
2011
to
raise
awareness
that
ex‐offenders
are
capable
of
second
 chances
and
can
be
become
productive
members
of
society
not
withstanding
 their
past
misdemeanors.
The
indicator
that
is
used
to
portray
the
perception
 that
man
has
served
time
in
jail
is
evidently
his
full‐sleeved
tattoo.
The
message
 that
is
conveyed
is
overrun
with
prejudices
and
stereotypes.
This
nature
of
 harmful
labeling
cannot
be
tolerable
and
justifiable
if
we
want
to
nurture
a
 society
devoid
of
unwanted
judgments
and
typecasting.

 The
“tattoo
culture”
in
Singapore
might
be
a
growing
scene,
but
those
involved
in
 it
remain
under
a
close
microscope
of
scrutiny
by
mainstream
society,
who
 continues
to
perpetuate
ignorant
stances
on
the
flourishing
community.
How
far
 away
are
we
from
breaking
away
from
such
distasteful
and
undesired



conservatism?
Subculture
writer
Dina
Jitendra
sits
down
for
a
discussion
with
a
 female
tattoo
enthusiast,
who
professes
that
she
has
just
entering
this
“tattoo
 culture”
recently
and
has
no
plans
of
leaving
any
time
soon.

 There
is
a
need,
it
seems,
for
us
to
re‐evaluate
our

 
 
 
 



History of Tattoo Culture in Singapore