Students share meaning behind tattoos

Students share meaning behind tattoos

The buzzing of the needle fills the room as it splatters black ink through the air. Lines and patterns trace skin in rich, careful detail. Around 26% of people in the United States have at least one tattoo, according to the Statista Research Department in 2021. Tattoos are fairly common, but it isn’t always that you see a student walking around high school with tattoos trailing down her arm. Senior Erin Tyler got her tattoo this summer, and now her right arm is covered with rose vines.

“I’ve kind of always wanted [a tattoo] and my mom and my sister have quite a few, so it made me want one even more,” Tyler said.

According to Tyler, it isn’t important that all tattoos have a meaning behind them, but her tattoo does have its own special meaning.

“It’s based on the bible verse John 15:5, ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing,” Tyler said.

In Arkansas, the minimum age to get a tattoo without parental consent is 18 years old, but Tyler had no trouble getting her parents on board for a tattoo.

“My parents were surprisingly okay with it,” Tyler said. “I had hinted that I wanted one for over a year and knew exactly what I wanted, so that helped. I’ve always drawn on myself, so they’ve always expected me to get one.”

Senior Emily Taylor also has a tattoo. She decided to get it for her 18th birthday, but unlike Tyler, both of Taylor’s parents were not aware of her tattoo.

“I have a dragonfly tattoo below my neck on my upper back,” Taylor said. “My dad, to this day, does not know about it.  My mom, however, loves my tattoo.”

“My tattoo was inspired by my coworker who has a moth in the same spot which means ‘new beginnings’,” Taylor said. “I knew I wanted something similar in the same spot for my 18th birthday. The dragonfly means maturity and change.”

Senior Kyla Phandanouvong’s father is a tattoo artist and owns his own shop, which is where she got her tattoos. Phandanouvong has two tattoos: one of her parents’ birth years with a heart in the middle, and another with the K-Pop group BTS symbol. According to Phandanouvong, it took a little convincing before her mother was on board with the tattoos.

“At first, my mom was a bit iffy only because I was still 16 when I brought the topic about me getting one up,” Phandanouvong said. “My dad was all for it because he was the one that would do it. After some time and convincing, my mom finally allowed me to get some.”

Phandanouvong believes that tattoos are a way to showcase something meaningful, or to give something meaning.

“[Tattoos] give a person character, and it’s even cooler when it has meaning behind it,” Phandanouvong said. “I feel like you can tell stories throughout your life, or just major checkpoints that you’ve overcome in life.”

According to Taylor, tattoos don’t have to have a special meaning behind them and can be pieces of art to enjoy.

“I feel like tattoos can be similar to charms on a charm bracelet,” Taylor said. “They are pieces of yourself that you choose to collect.”

Tyler agrees, believing tattoos are a way of artistic freedom and expression, and should just be enjoyed.

“I think tattoos are a way to express who you are and what you love just on your skin,” Tyler said. “I don’t think it’s important that every tattoo has a meaning behind it, though, because it’s your body and it’s art, so you may as well have fun with it.”