Last State to Legalize Tattoos
Despite numerous petitions during the four-decade ban, the tattoo ban continued. However, a silver light began to shine in 1999 when Oklahoma approved the practice of piercing with the implementation of strict policies and regulations. Tattoo artists began to have hope and believed that tattooing would not be far behind. As time slowly passed for those who wanted to legalize body ink studios, they didn`t have to wait another decade to see relief. Seven years later, in 2006, Oklahoma answered their prayers and announced it would lift the state`s tattoo ban. In 1963, shortly after New York`s request, the state of Oklahoma banned tattoos and body modifications. Although, unlike New York, which lifted the ban in 1997, Oklahoma has complied with its law; Maintaining the ban until the twenty-first century. Skin color could determine the success of tattoo removal, Kunzweiler said, and it`s probably not a viable option for everyone. In fact, Oklahoma was the last state to approve and recognize tattooing as a legitimate business practice. The ban was imposed for health and safety reasons and, of course, for moral reasons. However, one thing the Oklahoma legislature at the time could not foresee was that by making the practice illegal, they pushed it underground where it was not regulated. No wonder, this has led to many more problems than bad art.
“Our society as a whole still doesn`t see tattoos in a favorable light,” he said. “Many CEOs don`t want people to work on the front lines and openly draw attention to themselves. “We can`t find anyone very supportive right now,” said Brandon Mull, who goes around the state and does tattoos. Today, tattoos are no longer considered the taboo they once were and are firmly entrenched in American society. Everyone from teachers to lawyers to museum curators wears them (yes, Panaite admits to having two when curating the exhibition). New York City is now home to more than 270 tattoo studios, and as part of the exhibition, the Historical Society invited several tattoo artists to perform live demonstrations as part of the show. George Stratton, owner of Cutting Edge Tattoo in Arkansas City, Kansas, said about 30 percent of his clients are Oklahomans crossing the state border for a legal tattoo. Mull began petitioning the state legislature in 1997 to legalize the work he had done for 12 years. State Rep. John Wright, R-Broken Arrow, believes the legal tattoo will hurt the state`s economy because employers are less likely to hire a tattooed candidate. True or not, the state`s history with tattooing dates back centuries before it was banned in the 1960s.
Many believe that the ailments could almost be eliminated and that Oklahoma could experience an economic boom if tattoos were legal. Oklahoma Sen. Frank Shurden, D-Henryetta, introduced a bill to legalize and regulate tattoo artists. Risky business representative Bill Graves, R-Oklahoma City, worries that legalization will make tattooing more attractive and accessible: “I think a lot of kids get tattooed and probably wish they hadn`t done it later.” The laws make it a little harder for the average Joe to pick up a tattoo machine and say he knows what he`s doing,” said Brandon Mull, a member of the Oklahoma Tattooing and Piercing Association and the Oklahoma Body Art Coalition, which fought to change the state`s tattoo laws. But there were also tattoo artists like Brandon Mull, owner of Water Street Tattoo in Sapulpa, who continued to tattoo in the state and attract businesses through word of mouth. In the United States, there is no federal law regulating the practice of tattooing. However, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have legal laws that require a person who receives a tattoo to be at least 18 years old. This is partly due to the legal principle that a minor cannot enter into a legal contract or give informed consent to proceedings. Most states allow a person under the age of 18 to get tattooed with the permission of a parent or guardian, but some states prohibit tattooing before a certain age, regardless of permission, except for medical reasons (such as marks for radiation therapy). When tattooing was banned in Oklahoma in 1963, it drove residents to neighboring states like Texas and Arkansas to get tattooed or open a business.
Working with several tattoo activists, the state Department of Health has been working for more than a year on a set of regulations, licenses, and guidelines that professional tattoo artists would have to follow before they could practice legally. These strict guidelines were established to limit the risks associated with the practice that caused the ban in the first place. According to the health authority, professional artists should be licensed by the state and take courses on blood-borne diseases as well as first aid. Medical techniques, including lasers, have improved to the point that tattoo removal is easy, Mull said. “Legalization is not going to close underground stores,” Bennett said. There will always be the boyfriend of your brother`s cousin who knows someone who does tattoos. But legalization offers the choice to do so in a sterile environment. The salon`s owner, Bennett, is shocked that Oklahomans are willing to give all that money to neighboring states. Both bans were introduced in the 1960s when most states banned tattooing due to hepatitis epidemics. Two decades later, the bans were lifted.
Bennett said tattoos can be very religious. He said he knew a man who had a picture of the Lord`s Supper tattooed on his chest. In South Carolina, Republican Senator Bill Mescher fought for legalization for 10 years and rejected half a dozen bills. This time, the traditional opposition voted in favor of the bill, which passed the state Senate in early January. The bill is awaiting debate in the House of Representatives. Doctors and osteopaths or technicians working under their direct supervision can give tattoos to minors or produce scars for “medical or cosmetic purposes”.  “Over the years, the history of the tattoo industry has been more masculine,” says Panaite. “But I`ve found in my research that women continue to come up and make these strong statements.” But to answer tattoo artist Joshua Crain`s question about why the practice was banned in Oklahoma, I passed on the rumor he had heard to Johnson, who said it wasn`t clear who the state legislature or his daughter was, where she was tattooed or what it represented. Crain heard a rumor that the tattoo became illegal because the daughter of a state legislature got a tattoo tattooed that he didn`t approve.
What prompted the city to take action against tattoos in the first place? After all, New York isn`t the place people go to express their individuality — and what better way to do that than to get tattooed? Oklahoma`s law legalizing tattooing goes into effect Wednesday, and the state Department of Health has been busy asking questions of people seeking licenses to practice ancient art. “We have no more revenue and taxes,” Bennett said. It makes no sense to give money to the state of Texas, Oklahoma. The last attempt to lift Oklahoma`s 1963 ban on an offense of “tattooing or offering to tattoo a person failed four years ago. The bill died when Rep. Fred Stanley, D-Madill, refused to hear it before his public health committee. Dees works for the man he tattoos on a mild Wednesday afternoon at Bennett`s Tattooing and Body Piercing on Main Street in Sapulpa. The store`s sign advertises tattoos and mocks state law. He knows some of that business will bounce back, but he predicted that many Oklahoma tattoo artists won`t have the experience or money to meet the state`s licensing requirements. Panaite organized the exhibition in chronological order, beginning with the Native Americans, specifically the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) tribe, who lived on the same land on which the city is located today.
Members of the tribe believed that tattoos had healing powers and offered protection against evil, and they applied them by cutting into the skin and sprinkling soot or crushed minerals into the wound. They also used tattoos as a form of identification, a common thread that appears repeatedly in the exhibition. A pass mark on a standardized proficiency test must be obtained before it can be legally used, and at least two inspections per year would be conducted directly by the Ministry of Health. And, of course, tattoos should be limited to people who are eighteen years of age or older. State Representative Al Lindley, D-Oklahoma City, has introduced legislation to legalize tattooing. Tressa Madden, director of consumer protection at the Department of Health, said her office has been inundated with inquiries about the authorization process. Phillips said he agrees with young adults who travel to get tattoos. In North America, tribes used tattoos to represent themes such as belonging, achievements, and beliefs. One piece of history that is often overshadowed and that the exhibition focuses on is the popularity of tattoos among women. In Victorian times, fashionable women discreetly invited tattoo artists to their homes to have themselves inked, and often commissioned designs in areas of their bodies that could be easily hidden, such as on a wrist that could be covered with a bracelet. The famous New York writer Dorothy Parker, for example, got a little blue star tattooed on the inside of her biceps. A report by the now-defunct New York World even claimed that around 1900, more women than men in New York City wore tattoos.
Sailors, for example, another group of tattoo enthusiasts, began dyeing their initials on their skin in the 1700s. These distinctive tattoos were then recorded in their personal seafarer protection certificates, which were used as identification and to ward off impressions.