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A Rant on Henna vs. Tattoos

Photo by VistaprintA little venting is in order ...

"Henna tattoo" is a bit of a misnomer, although henna artists -- including myself -- occasionally use the term. However, confusion reigns, and sometimes this leads to really annoying behavior by potential customers and festival-goers. To wit:

  • Henna and tattooing are two separate art forms. Although "tattoo" has come to mean almost any decoration or picture on the skin, a true tattoo is surgical implantation of ink in the skin. Tattooing involves a very different set of tools and skills than does henna, so it's not accurate to say that henna is a "fake" tattoo. And as Catherine Cartwright-Jones famously says, "This isn't fake anything ... it's real henna!"
  • Henna is not a "gateway drug" to ink tattooing. I've had customers walk away thinking that if they let their 14-year-old daughter get henna that she'd therefore want an ink tattoo for her 18th birthday. Getting an ink tattoo is still world's apart from getting henna. Trust me; I've done both. I totally understand if a parent doesn't want to encourage body art, but that preference needs to be an informed one. Henna fans and tattoo fans are not necessarily mutually inclusive. And for those who are categorically opposed to either ink tattoos or body art of any kind ...
  • Please keep your opinions to yourself, or at least be polite in expressing them. It's fine if you don't want henna, it's fine if you think tattoos are evil or tacky. This is America; you're entitled to your opinions. However, informing me, your friendly neighborhood henna artist, of these things is rather pointless and mostly unwelcome. And if you must say something, please don't be a jerk about it.

Rant over.

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