Military tattoos were popular with American servicemen. The common designs they utilized were eagles with wings spread to symbolize the Air Force, anchors to symbolize the Navy, the U.S. flag for the Army, unit designs and the seal itself for the Marines. This period also gave rise to the prevalence of erotic sexy tattoos of naked women. These were emblazoned on the biceps and upper torsos of these servicemen. Sailors had tattoos made for decoration as well as for the more practical and matter-of-fact purpose of identification in case they are drowned at sea. Prisoners had their own language and symbolisms for their body designs. Tattooed tears meant murder or death, cobwebs on elbows or knees meant time spent in jail; ditto for gang members. All this supported the sexy macho image of the male of our species.
The younger generation has appropriated the symbolisms of the past and claimed it as their own. All these elaborate constructs of a culture has been erased, and new meaning or no-meaning has been designated to the old images. New images from popular culture have joined the portfolio of body artists. Body art and body decorating has entered the mainstream of society so that now you do not have to be a member of an ethnic tribe, served time in the military, in jail, or be members of a gang to be able to sport the body decoration. More and more young women are joining the ranks of the tattooed people. Aside from the military designs mentioned above, the tribal patterns, and the traditional Japanese images of dragons, tigers, snakes, and Koi, we now include in the list the images of cupid hearts and arrows, flowers and vines intertwined, the single rose, and butterflies. All of these have been used at one time or another in the procurement of modern sexy tattoos.