Cultural appropriation can be defined as the act of taking or borrowing markers of a non-dominant culture by members of the group in power (white people) for their own entertainment, pleasure, or expression. 


Tattooing was practiced in many parts of the globe since the neolithic times, as evidenced by mummified skin found in excavations. I don't consider tattooing in and of itself culturally appropriative. However, as it evolved from various places across the globe, the many styles of tattoos became popular in the West. Today we see many examples of tattoos that came from Samoan, Japanese, Chinese, Native American, African folklore. Most of them I see on white folks.  I do believe it's best to stick to references and styles that come from your own roots. It's more powerful that way. And you won't have to feel ashamed when inevitably you get called out. 


Below you will find a few articles that speak specifically to cultural appropriation within tattoo culture. If you hold white skin privilege, and are thinking of having a symbol/a language/an image tattooed that does not come from your specific roots, or is not entirely universal, please read them. 


Great Article by Courtney Demone, a queer white transwoman:

A more general article on the basics of cultural appropriation:

Personal Experience