by Kelsey Butler
Since I have tattoos, as soon as the school year had started I looked around my classrooms to see whether anybody else had visible tattoos. I couldn’t really see any of my peers as inked as I was.
According to a Pew Research survey, I am part of the thirty-six percent of eighteen to twenty-five year olds who have tattoos. Taking that statistic into mind, I was definitely interested to hear about my classmates’ tattoos here at Finlandia.
So I conducted a written survey of the Freshmen in my English class. I saw that eight out of fifteen kids had at least one tattoo. Many more wanted one but due to lack of funds or ideas, they hadn’t yet gotten tattooed.
“I have no idea as to what I would want to have on my skin for a lifetime,” Alex Greenleaf says.
Mike Nesbitt agrees by saying “I never got a tattoo because they are expensive and I don’t have anything that I want permanently on my skin. Maybe someday something might happen and I’ll want one.”
In this generation it has become much more acceptable to have tattoos compared to when our parents were younger. Only sixteen percent of adults have tattoos compared to thirty six percent of eighteen to twenty-five year olds have at least one tattoo.
Perhaps that acceptability of tattoos is helped by the content of the ink that people are getting. Forty-three percent of people polled by a popular tattoo website say that they get tattooed to represent something personal.
This seems true here at Finlandia too. Dylan Krause says, “My tattoo says “Krause. Everyone knows it’s my last name but it is a representation of my family.” Jordyn Capps has a Lupus ribbon tattoo for a family member as well as a tattoo of three crosses that she got with her grandmother.
The fact that Jordyn got a tattoo with her grandmother also brings me to notice that many more family members have become accepting of tattoos and are even getting tattooed themselves. Alex Greenleaf’s dad has a tattoo honoring Alex; not only are children getting tattoos for their family, but their parents are getting them too.
Not everybody has a family that is so accepting, however. One student mentions how her father was very upset when she got a tattoo, even considering it a sin. Her mother had taken her to get the tattoo but that didn’t change her dad’s opinion.
Does the acceptability of a tattoo change when it comes to visibility? I noticed that most of my surveyed classmates’ tattoos in were in spots that you could easily hide with clothing. Cori Pietryzk says, “I have never been discriminated against because nobody has ever seen my tattoo.” Brittany Ferguson says she has never been judged because the only tattoo of hers that is visible is a small one on her ear, which most people are interested in.
While some people just do not approve of tattoos in general and tend to discriminate against them, I find that even people who don’t mind tattoos sometimes unintentionally offend those with tattoos. I remember being with heavily tattooed friends; one of the girls wore shorts with her leg tattoos showing. A lady approached her and instead of asking what the tattoo was, she actually pulled my friend’s shorts down on one side to read what her leg said. Obviously nobody wants their clothes pulled down in public by a stranger. Most of the time if you just asked tattooed people, they would be happy to show you the visible part of the tattoo.
Another subject that tends to be touchy with tattooed folk is what their tattoos mean. One of my classmates says, “When I take my son to the beach people stare and ask me what they’re supposed to mean, so I tell them to mind their own business.” Tattoos can be very personal in meaning so not everybody is willing to discuss them with strangers.
Sometimes we hear, “Well, when you get a visible tattoo you give away the right to have it be personal, since it’s out for the public to see.” The same student also says, “My body is my canvas and I’ll paint it how I want. I get them for myself and I don’t need to explain why, we all have our reason for everything we do.”