Tattoos provide opportunities to express individuality


Photo by Coral Lariviere

Counselor Sydney Piras stands at her desk working. Her sleeve of meaningful tattoos can be seen on her arm.

Coral Lariviere, Field Reporter

Although tattoos have been around for almost 10,000 years, the negative stigma surrounding them has been unmatched in recent society.

Senior Link Leikam explained how they have gotten comments that tattoos are going to ruin them, especially as a young person.

The people who get tattoos are not going to stop expressing themselves because someone might say something offensive, and that is a rather mature and brave decision.

Leikam explained how “just by doing something for myself that I think is interesting, like putting ink on my body,  is not ruining myself. It’s not ruining my personality, it’s not ruining my beliefs and it’s not ruining my education, because I’m still passing my classes and I’m going to graduate.”

The reason to get a tattoo can differ for everyone. There are overarching connections, such as the tattoos being so important to a person that they wanted a memory, symbol, or message displayed onto their body, even if that is through needles.

“I just love tattoos in general,” Leikam explained. “They have become a big part of me. When I was little, they were something I was always fascinated with. But I ended up getting them because they make me feel unique. And they have such special meanings to me.”

One of the biggest problems people seem to have is thinking that a person getting a tattoo will regret it. While that can come from a genuine place of concern, hearing that time and time again can be very disheartening. It could be that a person who knows nothing about tattoos does not know how big of a decision it can be, how expensive they are, and how long-drawn-out it can be, especially for people who come back to get multiple tattoos.

Counselor Sydney Piras explained just how lengthy the decision to get a tattoo can be, and how that gives her plenty of time to sit on the decision. “Both of my artists typically will open their schedules every 4 months, so I get in there right away for planning. The last tattoo I got was seven months into the planning from when they first opened their books to the multiple meetings we had to design it to the actual appointment to get the tattoo.”

While the process of getting tattoos can be very lengthy, they do not need to be necessary deeply personal, and meaningful. Tattoos can be more of a spontaneous fun decision, and that is still perfectly valid.

Para Harvey Lawhorn explained that he “just gets tattoos one at a time, and not frequently. It’s just whatever kind of excites me at the time.”

You are your most important person. You have to remind yourself that you are so beautiful and every person is such a unique canvas. Tattoos are a beautiful way to express yourself.

— Link Leikam

As mentioned before, some of the criticisms around tattoos do come from a genuine place of valid concern. What would count as this is the stress of not getting tattoos in not easily hidable places, such as faces and necks.

“I would recommend just not getting them on your face and neck,” Lawhorn said. “I don’t think that looks good when you’re employed somewhere or might get employed. I just think appearance does mean a lot.”

However, tattoos that can easily be covered are more accepted in society, and more flexible for careers. However, as society is becoming more tolerant and including, more and more people are not strictly required to not have tattoos or have them visible.

“I have never purposely covered up my tattoos. I’ve never been instructed to do so in my professional setting, even when there is some kind of policies out there. But personally, it’s just one aspect of us, like the color of hair. And when you think like that, then it doesn’t mean there’s something bad associated with it,” Piras explained.

Tattoos are a beautiful and meaningful thing that so many people decide to get. It does not deserve the negative stigma because it is a wonderful way to express yourself and be unique.

As Link said, “You are your most important person. You have to remind yourself that you are so beautiful and every person is such a unique canvas. Tattoos are a beautiful way to express yourself.”