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Tattoo and prevention TIME ONLINE


In the branches of the drugstore chains, a new product series has been available that was specially developed for the care of tattoos. Skin Stories is the name of the brand that is on the shelves of Rossmann or dm and is currently being advertised via television spots and social media influencers. Products such as the Rapid Repair Balm or the Defining Serum are intended to protect the tattoos of the users, because, as the company website says: "Time is unstoppable. Tattoo aging does."

With the market launch of the first "system care that is specifically tailored to the needs of tattooed skin", the strange process that has transformed an emblem of social stigmatization into an ubiquitous cosmetic practice within a quarter of a century seems to be complete. In 1984, it was stated in a criminology lexicon under the entry "tattoos", it was found primarily "among seafarers, soldiers, workers and prisoners". TattoosThe article continued, "allowing conclusions to be drawn about the origin and social environment of the tattooed person". Today the developers of Skin Stories emphasize: "We don't just want our products to keep your tattoos beautiful in the long term – we want to make tattooing better and safer overall."

The appearance of this care series reveals a contemporary image of man, which points to both an infinite tolerance in aesthetics and an infinite rigor in hygiene. The transgression is no longer a matter of having a tattoo, but of not treating your own tattoos carefully enough. Up until the 1990s, it was almost forgotten that the marks on the skin inevitably sharpened the eyes of police officers and educators. Tattooed bodies were not only quickly suspected, they were also subjected to extensive typologies and classifications in a long criminological tradition. Turin forensic doctor Cesare Lombroso examined thousands of prisoners for their body decorations in the last quarter of the 19th century and assigned their motives and placements to certain types of criminals. Hans Gross, the founder of scientific forensic science, took Lombroso's studies in his widely published handbook for examining judges and noted that you can find this "raw body toilet" almost only in "people, let's say: vigorous career choice". And Gross concluded that tattoos for criminals "also mainly in energetic natures: murderers, manslaughter, burglars, etc." can be determined.

As every stay in the indoor pool or on the holiday beach proves, these restrictions have completely disappeared. Everyone is now tattooed; the isolated patterns or the paintings flowing over half the body no longer mark social deviations, but serve as Valentin Groebner did in his essay The tattooed person has put it so beautifully, the outward "management of affiliations". In this respect, a range of care products offered in drugstore chains is even surprisingly late. Because the most accurate preservation of body decorations has proven to be a crucial task in the past fifteen or twenty years.

A new era in the handling of tattoos: as long as they were regarded as the outsider's stigma, the circumstances in which they were created were characterized by a pure, future-forgotten presence – the bores of a bored adolescent, the daily work on a ship, the uncertain duration of a prison term. To the extent that the tattoo has become an established option for self-expression, the aspect of prevention has become of central importance.

It is therefore logical that the criminalists' desire to classify returns on the Skin Stories website. Now, as with Lombroso and Hans Gross, it is no longer concluded from the tattoo on the expression of perversion, but from the tattoo on the expression of the type of care, when asked whether the asterisk on the wrist or the large-area tribal is more the Rapid Repair Balm or the Defining Serum must be applied. Social standardization is no longer primarily a matter for the police and pedagogy, but one of mindfulness and self-regulation.


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