Tattoos and Taboo

Tattoos and Taboo

Mikayla Havison, Editor-in-Chief

It’s your eighteenth birthday and your are sitting in the bulky, leather chair. It reminds you of the dentist’s office, but what is about to ensue will be more painful than the typical checkup. You flip through a book littered with pages of designs that may be engraved into your skin if you let them be. Which tattoo will you get?

Some people view them as a form of artistic expression, while others view them as products of rebellious phases, destined to sag with the passage of time. Whether you believe tattoos to be aesthetic and meaningful or anarchistic and ill-advised, tattoos undeniably play a role in the environment of the school and are important to many students and staff.

For some, tattoos provide the opportunity to tell a story and to commemorate feelings of nostalgia and success.

“I have 2 tattoos,” Erin Sheets (12) said. “My first [tattoo] is a mountain range on my ankle. I chose this because I go hiking with my dad every summer so it was a cute memento to that trip.”

The telling of stories with tattoos is a popular reason for going under the needle; however, other students choose tattoos based on the pure artistry.

“I have a peony on my right side,” student Darien Minx (12) said. “It’s on the lower part of my ribs and extends down past my waist. I chose the peony because it’s one of my favorite flowers and I thought it was really pretty.”

No matter the story or reasons for picking a tattoo, tattoos are  a form of expression, which give birth to new stories in relation to the tattoo. This is certainly the case for Kevin Pinkley (12), who selected a unique SpongeBob tattoo.

“My tattoo was originally just a joke I had with some friends,” Pinkely said. “I always said I wanted to get a doodlebob tattoo because that episode of SpongeBob had to have been my favorite one that ever aired.”

Even when tattoos seem comical, they often still hold a deeper message for students. 

“I am an openly expressive person who does not care what people think of me, and I feel like that is summed up pretty well with having doodlebob on my body,” Pinkley said. “I also put my own little personal spin on it by having the words ‘Abite Molesti!’ above him, which is Latin for ‘Go away pests!’.” 

Although most students with tattoos view them as a form of art, there is certainly a stigma that surrounds the inking of bodies. 

“Society as a whole is split on the opinion of tattoos,” Pinkley said. “Some like them, others don’t. I have been questioned about my decision to get a tattoo because people think that they dehumanize the body. I always respond by saying, ‘Why do you care what I do with my body? I mean, after all, you don’t have to live with it.’” 

Despite the negativity that those with tattoos sometimes face, it is undeniable that for most, the younger generation is much more open to the concept of tattoos.

“The younger generations have less stigma and are more accepting of being able to look past them, and as more younger people rise to positions of power within companies, the idea that tattoos are unprofessional is dwindling,” Sheets said. “Older people are pretty hard to sway in terms of getting rid of a previous mindset, so while they are still in the workforce there will always be discrimination.”

Students with tattoos hope that in the future, the stigma towards tattoos will decrease.

“I think a general view is that tattoos are a more rebellious thing,” Minx said. “I don’t think that perception is correct because for me it’s a creative and interesting way to express myself.”

Students are not the only ones at the school to get tattoos.

“Most of [my tattoos] are expressions of my faith or to honor my family,” Dominic Manco, art teacher, said.

Like students, Manco has observed similar changes in society’s perception of tattoos. 

“I think society is becoming more accepting of tattoos in general,” Manco said. “There are still some who look down on them or don’t appreciate the art or significance of them, and in some cases that is probably warranted, given all of the bad tattoos that have been done over the years. But most licensed, serious tattoo artists I’ve seen and known practice it as a serious art or craft and have tried their best to create beautiful pieces that enhance a person’s life and appearance, not diminish them.”