Tattoos and piercings

What do you think of tattoos and body piercings? Join Sophia in her latest video as she looks at how different people view tattoos and piercings.


Watch the video and use the subtitles and the transcript to help you understand.


Hello, everyone, and welcome back to another video for the British Council’s LearnEnglish Teens website and their YouTube channel.

In today’s video I wanted us to discuss the topic of tattoos and piercings, and, more specifically, whether they are seen as taboos in your society. Now, a taboo is something which usually has a negative connotation. It’s sometimes even forbidden from a society or a group because of the bad associations that are connected with it.

Now, in Britain, in the 19th century, tattoos and piercings were actually seen as a taboo. A lot of the people who had these were either sailors, pirates, criminals, prisoners and people of a lower social class, so they were seen to be rebellious and going against the norms in society.

But now we’re living in the 21st century and that has all changed. The bad reputation that tattoos and piercings used to have no longer really exists that much in Britain. Pretty much anyone and everyone can have a tattoo, old and young, of any social class, any age, any background, really. Samantha Cameron, our ex-prime minister David Cameron’s wife, actually has a tattoo on her ankle and I think that is quite unexpected for a lot of people.

I personally don’t have any tattoos, but when I was a little bit younger I had quite a lot of piercings. I think I had something like fourteen or sixteen in total and those were a lot of piercings on my ears and also a couple on my body. And I remember when I was going through this phase of wanting lots of piercings, my mother, like, was completely confused. She didn’t understand at all why I really liked piercings. And I think the reason why is because we come from two different cultures. So my mum was born and raised in Gambia, West Africa, and I have lived my entire life, or the majority of my life, in the UK, in Britain. So, in Britain, like I said, in the 21st century, piercings and tattoos have become a form of self-expression. It’s a way that we express our personality and our character, the same way that we use our clothes to do that. So, when I was fifteen at the time and I wanted all these piercings, I was actually trying to form an identity for myself. Perhaps even without knowing. And I think I really liked the idea of being alternative and a little bit rebellious and different, I guess. But the society that my mum comes from, their understanding and relationship with piercings and tattoos is completely different. She comes from a society and a culture that is more conservative perhaps, and also a generation that is more conservative, and their idea of identity is not related to piercings and tattoos. Identity comes from your family background, erm, which ethnic group you belong to, so it’s very different from Britain, where we can use our clothes, our hairstyle, the colour of our hair, piercings, tattoos and even our car to express our identity.

I think how tattoos and piercings are perceived in different cultures and the purpose they serve in different cultures is really interesting. In some ancient cultures it was believed that tattoos actually had healing powers, so, you know, it’s so interesting to see how a tattoo and piercing can be a taboo in one culture and it can be completely normal and acceptable in another.

I’m very interested to hear what you all have to say on the topic. Do any of you have piercings or tattoos? Are tattoos and piercings seen as taboos in your society? And what do you personally think about piercings and tattoos?

Comment below, let me know, and I’ll see you in the next one. Goodbye!


What do you think about tattoos and piercings? 

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Submitted by Francemarra05 on Sun, 01/29/2023 - 18:26

Now I don't have piercings or tattoo but I would link to have One in the future.
In my opinion having a tattoo or piercings isn't a taboo.
Everybody can choose if having One or not.

Submitted by Francemarra05 on Wed, 01/25/2023 - 14:57

Nowidon't have pircings or tatto but one day I will.
in my city pirsings is tattoos are not seen as a taboo.
I think tattoos and pirsing can be used aesthetically or to be linked to something.

Submitted by Sami.chtimi on Wed, 01/25/2023 - 08:53

Among us, a friend of ours has a tattoo on his Achilles tendon, it represents an infinite with some letters at the ends and in the center which are the initials of his closest family members. It has a very deep meaning to him and he intends to add many other equally representative tattoos for him, for his family and his closest friends in the near future.
A friend of ours told us that in his culture (Morocco) tattoos and piercings are seen as a sin. Within the family whoever has one of these things is seen in a different and negative way.
He also says that there is a risk of being bullied for this.
In Italy, on the other hand, tattoos and piercings are seen partly without prejudice but partly still in a bigoted way and with some discrimination.
Furthermore, in Italy tattoos are "justified" only if they have a deep meaning and are often associated with people with a bad reputation.

Submitted by Seba123444 on Wed, 01/25/2023 - 08:52

My personal opinion is that it doesn't matter if a person has tattoos or piercings because it is their body and they shouldn't be
discriminated for their choices......I think a person is free to do what they want with their body without being judged by anyone

Submitted by selymelymatti on Wed, 01/25/2023 - 08:45

yes, two of us have them.
one of the girls has a piercing and four tattoos,and the other girl has a piercing and two tattoos.
in Italy tattoos are not seen a taboo, generally people like them a lot, but in Senegal they aren't as popular as in Italy.
We think piercings and tattos are very beautiful, and we don't see anything wrong about them.

Submitted by Livorno on Sat, 01/21/2023 - 10:08

Yes, two of us have them. One of the girls has a piercing and four tattoos and the another girl has a pearcing and two tattos.
In Italy tattos are not seen as taboo, generally people like than a lot, but in Senegal they aren t as popular as in Italy.
We think piercings and tattoos are vero beautiful, and we don r see anything wrong about them

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Submitted by Kostantinus on Wed, 03/31/2021 - 06:46

Nowadays it's quite popular among youths to have tattoos or piercings. As for me I don't accept to have all of these on my body, but I like watching other people's tattoos. No doubts girls with piercings look cool. I don't think it looks good if someone's whole body covered by tattoos, but it's ok for me. As Sophia said tattoos and piercings are the way of self-expression and we are heading in new era with it's trends.

Submitted by Coolalp3r on Fri, 02/15/2019 - 18:58

I like Piercings and Tattoos but I Wouldn't have any of this Because I'm afraid of piercings and I know that Tattoos will be on me for the rest of my life.
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