Because of the barcode’s ubiquity, it’s no surprise that it has developed a form of symbolism in pop culture. In fact, the barcode has become a fairly popular image to get as a tattoo. Both men and women have barcode tattoos and the most popular places are on the back of the neck or around the wrist. There is some dispute, however about the meaning behind the barcode tattoo.

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Some people believe that the barcode is a symbol of a person’s individuality, represented by the unique set of numbers or letters under the barcode image. They see it as statement against a culture of commodities and a celebration of diversity and the uniqueness of the individual.

It is most typically worn, however by people with a great distrust in the government, like punks and anarchists. As a tattoo design, the barcode is meant to be ironical, a warning that if we are not careful as a culture, we are all in danger of becoming products ourselves. A barcode tattoo is an ironic symbol of protest against a culture where it seems that everyone wears the same clothes, listens to the same music and uses the same products.

The barcode is also used as a symbol of acceptance of the that people are manufactured. Even if you try not to conform, you do. Some wear the barcode tattoo to declare their acceptance of their “manufactured life”.

On a more superficial level, some people may have just copied the barcode tattoo from what they saw in the media. The barcode as a tattoo has appeared on several celebrities and in a few movies in the past decade or so. For example, the musical artist Pink got a the barcode of one of her albums tattooed on her neck. It’s also appeared on Jessica Alba’s neck in the TV series “Dark Angel” and on the back of Timothy Olyphant’s head in “Hitman”.

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Do you, or anyone you know have a barcode tattoo? What is the meaning behind it? If you do have a barcode tattoo, be sure to check out and participate in our barcode tattoo competition!