Tattoos. To wear or beware?

Tattoos have been popular in the belly dance community for decades. It’s not uncommon to see oriental dancers with the lower back tat that either sits just above her hip belt or pokes alluringly out of areas otherwise hidden. In the tribal and fusion dance community, well it’s not so much a matter of “Do you have any ink?”, its more a case of ” How many tats do you have?”.

Rachel Brice

Rachel Brice

Rachel Brice Tattoo

While searching for the right pictures for this post I found this!! Have I got this right?? Is this a Rachel Brice Tattoo???

In Australia tattoos are enormously popular and extremely common particularly in those under 35. While in Bali last year it was possible to pick the Aussies out of a crowd not so much by the accents but the ink!

As dance artists we are drawn to expressions of art on our bodies. I think its a natural extension and I have no judgement on those covered in images or those that are ‘clean skins’ (the term used by the tattooed to refer to those not in the club 😉 )- however…

How safe is the ink?

Does anyone regulate it?

Apparently not.

“To date there have been no systemic studies to look at the safety of injecting such inks into the body”

Ouch!! So these dyes that are designed to stay in your body permanently are not properly tested or regulated. There have been some studies done however and the findings are not promising. The issue seems to revolve around nanoparticles. Nanoparticles are super small (like a human hair is about 80,000 nanometers wide) and are therefore more easily absorbed into the body.

  • Nanoparticles are widely found in tattoo inks, with some black pigments containing virtually 100-percent nanoparticles.
  • Tattooing with black inks entails an injection of substantial amounts of phenol and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) into skin. Most of these PAHs are carcinogenic and may additionally generate deleterious singlet oxygen inside the dermis when skin is exposed to UVA (e.g. solar radiation).” 

It’s not just black ink that has the nanoparticles, most colours do have substantial amounts, its just that black tends to have the most. These toxic types of nano particles can get into your bloodstream and organs but even more scary is that the potential for them to cause lesions in your brain.tattooed belly dancer

It’s not all bad news though, there is a study being conducted by the american National Center for Toxicological Research that will hopefully clear up the issue of toxicity and therefore encourage manufacturers to make the inks safer.  In the mean time I would suggest that you wait a bit before getting any large or darkly coloured tattoos and see what the results of the study are. If it’s all good then you could have saved up more cash to get a bigger, or better one than you first envisaged. If the study shows problems then you may be pleased you waited.
This post was largely based on this article from please click here for more info

What do you think? Do you care if the ink is potentially toxic or is the art worth the risk? Please comment below.

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