Perhaps the main difference between ancient and modern tattoos is that in the contemporary West, a given design’s message is often harder to decipher than those of tattoos rooted in specific cultural traditions. It was easy for fellow Maoris to read meaning in the markings on each other’s faces. But why, oh why, would you plaster your scalp with an picture of a continental breakfast, or ink a puking yellow mouse on your back, as certain bold souls showcased here did? (That’s not to suggest that tattoos have lost their tribal significance. Just look to the tattoos of prison gangs, skinheads, biker clubs, punk rockers, and other subcultures.)
Jump up ^ In 1969 the House of Lords debated a bill to ban the tattooing of minors, on grounds it had become "trendy" with the young in recent years but was associated with crime, 40 per cent of young criminals having tattoos. Lord Teynham and the Marquess of Aberdeen and Temair however rose to object that they had been tattooed as youngsters, with no ill effects. The Times (London), 29 April 1969, p. 4: "Saving young from embarrassing tattoos".
The American Academy of Dermatology distinguishes five types of tattoos: traumatic tattoos, also called "natural tattoos", that result from injuries, especially asphalt from road injuries or pencil lead; amateur tattoos; professional tattoos, both via traditional methods and modern tattoo machines; cosmetic tattoos, also known as "permanent makeup"; and medical tattoos.