Students, Teachers Share Tattoos

March 10, 2022

Five Community Members Explain Meaning, Significance Behind Tattoos

Submitted by: Mira Sutherland

Mira Sutherland ‘23 explains that for her sweet sixteen, she and her mom got matching vines of flowers on their ribs professionally done by a tattoo artist. Sutherland says she got the tattoo because, “I’ve always wanted one, I want to get more, I just thought it was pretty and my mom got the same one, and it was kind of heartwarming and nice.” Commenting on the general culture around tattoos, she shares her insights saying, “I think a lot of people get them to mean something or to represent a feeling or incident, or for looks, like an aesthetic. I think in our generation, people idolize when they’re really well-formatted on your body.”

The tattoo above is Hindi for “to read” or “reading.” (Submitted by: Anil Chandiramani)

English teacher Anil Chandiramani has several tattoos as he reflects on the reasons behind getting them and what they mean to him now. He shares, “Probably all of my tattoos I’ve gotten for aesthetic value rather than any other significance, I suppose. Most of them I just thought would look cool at a particular time in my life. Do I think they look cool now? Eh, questionable. I got them not because they have a deep, profound meaning, for reasons of art, I suppose.” Chandiramani also comments on the permanence of tattoos and how they have become a marker of his own personal growth. “I hear a lot of people who are reluctant to get tattoos say that the tattoo might not mean the same thing to them 10 years from now, and I guess in a way I kind of think of the tattoos on my body as a reminder of who I was and what I was thinking five years ago, 10 years ago, even though I see the tattoo now that is hideous… it reminds me what I was thinking and where I was a decade or two ago. It’s like a track of how I’ve evolved or grown. I guess the permanence of tattoos hasn’t really bothered me.”  

Some Blake students who have tattoos opted for the stick and poke method instead of the traditional tattoo gun route. An anonymous student shares they have a stick and poke tattoo of a heart on their lower back that they got in mid-September. “I just kind of wanted one for a while, and it didn’t feel like a big deal for me. I thought a heart was always cute. My friends did it for me. It hurt a lot, but it was worth it. I like it.” They go on, stating: “I definitely would [get another tattoo]. I have like a whole Pinterest board of tattoos… I like the look of the really thin ones, so I do like stick and poke.” Continuing, they explain their thoughts surrounding possible meanings and symbolisms of tattoos: “I think it’s kind up to the person, for me I feel like it’s kind of like both [getting a tattoo with meaning and for aesthetic purposes]. I would always kind of want them to like a tiny bit of a deeper meaning but I kind of love when people get random stuff.” However, they do express that the stigma of tattoos has shifted as they have gotten older, “When you’re younger, I think tattoos are kind of taboo but less so than they used to be.”

Zoe Goodwin ‘24, another student who has two stick and poke tattoos, discusses their meaning. She has two eyes on her hand right above her thumb, and when she moves her thumb, it appears as though her hand is talking. She says, “It’s just like a reminder of how far I’ve come since [middle school].” She also has another on her stomach, with her sister’s first initial and a heart next to it. Goodwin got this tattoo as a tribute to her relationship with her sister, Goodwin states, “She means a lot to me, she’s just my best friend, she’s always been there, it’s just a reminder of who’s there.” Speaking about the experience of actually getting the tattoo done, Goodwin states, “For me, it wasn’t painful, I just have a high pain tolerance, like I’ve pierced my own ears.” 

Olivia Sackor ‘24 has two tattoos, both of which are flowers, that hold a more profound meaning along with aesthetic purposes. Sackor explains these tattoos and the purpose behind them, stating: “I have two, one is on my leg and I found it on Pinterest, I got it in Vegas when we were driving back from California, and I decided ‘why not?’ [I have another] flower, and I got it in Denver when I was at a wrestling meet. It’s a memorial piece for my great-grandma, she really liked purple flowers, so I was like, ‘why not?’ It’d be kinda cool.” Reflecting on how she views her tattoos now, Sackor says, “I think I was in very different times in my life like something was happening when I got it so I could kind of look back on it and be like ‘that’s cool.’”

Tattoos Allow for Self-Expression, Individuality

Body art provides outlet for creativity

Often the source of controversy and creativity, tattoos remain popular among young people. Tattoos are utilized as a form of protest, self-expression, or simply for aesthetic purposes. While some believe tattoos need to have a deeper meaning to be worth putting on one’s body permanently, others simply get tattoos because of the image itself. 

Violet Odden ‘22 states, “I know a lot of people like to say… make sure when you do get tattoos that it has meaning and it is important to you. I don’t really think it has to, and it definitely depends on the person. If you want something that has meaning, but you’re just getting something to look cool, then you might end up regretting it. So I do think it’s important to have thought about it, but I don’t think every single thing you put on your body needs to have meaning, not every shirt you wear has meaning you might just think it looks cool.” Tattoos won’t always have a specific meaning, and they don’t necessarily have to. Amanda Minoff, English teacher and college counseling liaison, adds, “I think they can just be beautiful, and that is reason enough to get one.”

“Getting those types of tattoos, the ones that signify that you’ve survived through something are really empowering…and important.” – Violet Odden ’22

In recent years, tattoos have become more widely accepted, especially in terms of younger people getting them. Minoff says that “I do think that the stigma of if you have a tattoo, that means you’re a really tough person… has diminished in recent years as tattoos have become more popular and there have been more styles of tattoos.” 

Tattoos are particularly appealing to young people, as they are a way to express things they might not be able to say otherwise. However, there is a certain risk with getting a tattoo early in life, and later regretting that choice. Odden notes, “I think it’s more accepted, but people definitely need to think about what that might affect them going into the future.” Tattoos can affect future employment, even though they are slowly becoming more accepted. As people grow and change, they could also outgrow a tattoo from when they were younger. Although, this process is not necessarily a negative outcome. Minoff presents the idea of tattoos as a way to reflect on the past and says, “I think it’s wise to consider how your tattoo will grow with you, but I also think it’s kind of cool to have a tattoo that marks who you are at a certain stage in your life and to be able to look back on that and remember who you were even if it’s not a tattoo you would’ve gotten in the present day… I think it’s cool to see how you’ve changed since that moment.”

For young people, tattoos are often used as a way to represent their lived experiences. Odden believes that “Getting those types of tattoos, the ones that signify that you’ve survived through something, are really important to the person getting them and really empowering.” Tattoos are a creative outlet and a form of self expression. Minoff states “[I]t’s a means of expression, just like writing is, just like any sort of art. I think it carries a different significance when it’s on your body and it’s going to be there forever.”

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