Tattooed and Pierced: Changing Perceptions about Body Decoration


Tattoos and body piercings are human customs that go back thousands of years. The acceptance by society of these forms of body art varies immensely according to time and place.


Evidence of tattooing goes back at least 5000 years. In many ancient societies, including the Egyptians, Chinese, Native Americans, and Polynesians (including Taiwan’s aboriginals), tattoos could indicate the social status, wealth, skills, religious beliefs, or clan of an individual. The history of body, facial, and ear piercings goes back just as far and was done for similar reasons as mentioned above. Even today, the traditional practice of wearing nose rings remains prevalent among women in South Asian countries such as India and Pakistan.


In modern times, visible tattoos and piercings developed a negative connotation. Up until the 1980s in the US, tattoos were largely associated with rebellious groups such as motorcycle gangs, while in East Asia it was also mainly gang members who got tattoos. While ear piercing for women first became popular in the mid-1900s in the US, it also wasn’t until the 1980s that it became common for men, and other facial or body piercings were still regarded as an unusual custom by most.


In most Western cultures, all of this changed in the 1990s to 2000s. Tattoos and piercings have exploded in popularity, to a point where youths who don’t have at least one or two tattoos or piercings have become the unusual ones. These days, it is a common sight to walk into a bank or other business and see workers with visible tattoos or piercings, and many companies have adjusted their dress codes to allow this.  


East Asian societies remain a little more conservative in this regard. Visible tattoos or unusual piercings are still largely frowned upon in the business world, but they have becoming increasingly common among youths.

Vocabulary 好字精選

1. immensely (adv) largely/hugely  大量的,巨大的
Tribal tattoo designs are immensely popular among American teens. 

2. clan (n) a group of related families (bigger than “family” but smaller than “tribe”)  宗族,部落
The two clans were fighting over access to the river.      

3. facial (adj) related to the face  臉部的
This facial cream should help with your pimples.  

4. prevalent (adj) common/widespread  常見的,流行的,普及的
Smoking seems to be more prevalent in countries where alcohol is banned.

5. connotation (n) meaning, the idea of sometimes besides it’s literal meaning  涵義,言外之意,弦外之音
The title of the book has an unhappy connotation, but that’s not what the author intended.

6. rebellious (adj) doing bad things  反叛的,造反的

Kevin went through a rebellious phase in his teenage years.

7. gang (n) a club or group that usually does bad things  (歹徒,青少年等)一幫,一群
A group of gang members kidnapped the girl.

8. dress code (n) a policy about how to dress  服儀標準,穿衣規定
According to our company’s dress code, you can’t wear shorts at work. 

Phrases and Sentence Patterns 句型解析

1. in this regard (phrase) regarding this, regarding the previous point  關於,在這點上
My parents encourage me to be independent. In this regard, I’m pretty lucky. 

2. frown upon (phrasal verb) look down upon, disapprove of  不同意,不許可
Silly behavior is frowned upon when visiting a temple.

Exercise 課後練習題

1. Kurt was _______________ surprised when he came home to find that his mother had gotten her nose pierced.

2. This particular ____________ of aboriginals is known for their unique tattoos.

3. _______________ hair, such as beards and mustaches, is trendy among Western males right now.

4. In the 1980s, many men only got one ear pierced, but nowadays it is more ______________ for them to get both.

5. I think his comment was sincere; I don’t think he intended for his words to have a negative ______________.

6. Many rock and hip hop stars are worshipped by ______________ teenagers around the world.

7. Hillary joined a _______________ and got involved with various criminal activities.

8. The _____________ for the wedding is casual; you can wear whatever you’d like.

9. Fiona is an outstanding cook. _______________, all of her friends look up to her.

10. My parents will _______________ my ear piercings, but I want them so I’m still going to get them.

1. immensely
2. clan
3. Facial
4. prevalent
5. connotation
6. rebellious
7. gang
8. dress code
9. In this regard
10. frown upon

Comprehension Questions 閱讀理解

1. Which example is given of an area where a traditional piercing or tattoo custom hasn’t changed and has persisted in modern times? 
a. America.
b. East Asia.
c. South Asia.
d. Polynesia.

2. What can we infer from the article?  
a. If current trends continue, tattoos and piercings will become more and more prevalent in East Asian society.    
b. Women in India and Pakistan will probably stop wearing nose rings at some point in the future.
c. Tattoos will continue to mainly be associated with gangs in many parts of the world.  
d. The author of this article has multiple tattoos and piercings.  

1. 內文的舉例中,以下哪一地區的傳統穿環或紋身風俗在現代依然未有改變?
a. 美國
b. 東亞
c. 南亞
d. 玻里尼西亞

2. 我們可以從文章中推論出以下何者?
a. 假如目前的潮流依然,紋身與穿環會在東亞社會中愈來愈普遍。
b. 印度及巴基斯坦的女性到未來某時都可能會停止穿鼻環。
c. 在世界上許多地方,紋身依然被大眾認為與幫派相關。
d. 這篇文章的作者身上有多個刺青及穿環。


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