What Can We Learn From The History Of Tattoos?

Oh, tattoos. No matter how you feel about the full-sleeve trend that's so popular with the hipster set these days, there's no denying that inking up has been a thing for quite a long time. 8,000 years, in fact. And this video proves it. TED-Ed summed up the entire history of tattoos in one little animated, five minute clip. It covers everything from tatted up mummies to tattoo choices today. The more you know.

What did we learn from this educational tid-bit? Turns out, the modern tattoo needle was actually inspired by Thomas Edison’s stencil machine. Who knew he helped create more than just a light bulb? The general attitude towards tats throughout the years? Not great. Victorian Brits snubbed at the very thought of tattoos, but quite a few ladies hid them under their clothes. Queen Victoria herself even had a tiger and python inked on her royal skin. What a badass.

Sadly, the pain of inking up still hasn’t gone away. SIGH. But the tattooing industry has changed quite a bit over the years. Today, employers are becoming much more ‘lax over ink in the workplace. Because, you know, we shouldn’t act like Victorians in 2014. From laser removal to tattoos themselves, here are four things we should all be grateful for in today’s inked up society.

1. Temporary Tattoos Are Back In Our Lives

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Not ready to take the permanent plunge? Afraid of the very thought of needles? No prob! Back in the day, it was all or nothing. That tattoo was for life.

Temporary tats are no longer for kiddos at ‘90s birthday parties. Celebs have been spotted rocking them everywhere, from Kendall Jenner on the Tommy Hilfiger runway to Beyonce in Italy. Wear them. Embrace them. Then wash them off.

2. Laser Tattoo Removal Is The Ultimate Rewind Button

Oh, you got your ex’s name tattooed on your ankle? Way back when, you were screwed. Now? Laser tattoo removal has given us a (incredibly painful) delete button for our most regrettable ink.

While it’s still a process — it takes up to ten sessions to completely remove ink — it’s still an option for anyone who wants those song lyrics they got tatted on their foot when they were in high school gone. Peace out, cheesy quote.

3. Companies Are Beginning To Accept Tats In the Workplace

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Yeah, it’s taken us until 2014 to get here, but employers are starting to become much more relaxed about tattoos. Starbucks, Wal-Mart, and PetSmart have all started revising their visible tattoo policies.

What does this mean? People with tats can feel like themselves in the office! Queen Victoria may have hidden her weird-yet-amusing tattoo, but that doesn’t mean you should have to.

4. Travel Tattoos Are Much Less Extreme

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Way back when, travelers used to get a tattoo to mark every milestone in their journey. Cross the ocean? Time for an anchor. Journey south of the equator? Turtle tattoo. Nowadays, most people just stick to getting an Eiffel Tower tat after a semester in Paris.

This one’s kind of out there, but let’s just be thankful that United doesn’t ink a giant pair of wings on our forehead. Right? Right.

Images: Ted Ed, Getty (3), OnBeing/Flickr