The Falcon | Volume 83, Issue 51
Published 5/15/13 | Log In
More tattoos seen particularly among freshmen
By MADELEINE KERN, Staff Reporter
Published: October 31, 2012
Etched onto the side of her smooth back is one word in black ink: “Rejoice.” The tattoo is simple, yet is a complete dichotomy from the complex meaning of the tattoo itself.
After graduating from high school, it was an expression of self and a type of renewal to get a tattoo for Seattle Pacific freshman Mary Johnson.
As teenagers come of age, they are given many opportunities to try new things on a whim. All you need is a signature of approval, and if you’re eighteen, the world is almost an open book.
“Tattoos are like making a permanent statement: it’s an art form that you live with, and I didn’t make this decision overnight,” Johnson said.
The meaning behind Johnson’s tattoo came from James 1:2, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” To her, this means that “if God brought you to hard times, he’ll bring you through it, no matter what.”
The ‘R’ and ‘J’ of “Rejoice” are intertwined to make an infinity sign, another significance to Johnson: “it symbolizes that God’s faithfulness to us is eternal and never ceasing.”
Johnson is one of numerous students getting tattooed as a college freshman. Flowers, angels, tribal symbols, quotes – the options are endless for a tattoo design. As the popularity of these permanent marks rise, so does the question as to when it’s okay to “get inked.”
Tattoos are upheld as the biker, rocker look, but the style is changing drastically. People are getting flowers and hearts, even light bulbs, like SPU freshman Kristie Kunzmann.
“I got my tattoo because it represented to me the values of my parents and what important people in my life taught me,” Kunzmann said.
To her, the tattoo is “sentimental” and she “likes the idea of art on peoples’ bodies.”
The two regret nothing about their tattoos. Both women feel that it is a personal decision to get a tattoo. Kunzmann says that, “tattoos should reflect your personality and what you love and hold closest to you.”
Deep Roots Tattoo & Body Piercings in the University District sees more than three college freshmen on average day. Jessie Fossmo, the secretary witnesses everything that walks in and out.
“Our shop usually gets college freshmen that have never gotten a tattoo before,” Fossmo said.
For Kunzmann, receiving the go-ahead from her parents wasn’t such a cinch. The “generational gap” is most likely the biggest reason her parents disliked the general idea of tattooing.
When “my parents were growing up only ‘bad’ people had [tattoos],” Kunzmann said.
Even though this negative stigma is around and isn’t new, it’s shrinking nonetheless. Today, fewer people are regarding getting a tattoo as deviant behavior, and more as modern expressionism.
According to the Pew Research Center, 36 percent of 18 to 25-year-olds have tattoos. 50 percent of people think having a tattoo is rebellious, as reported by Harris Interactive, a market research firm.
Johnson continued about why she chose to get a tattoo, “I’m at an age where I can make that type of decision, but my parents were supportive of it, which isn’t usually the case,” Johnson said.
Unlike Johnson, other freshmen are choosing to make these decisions regardless of who dislikes their determination to get a tattoo. The sense of freedom that comes with leaving home and making your own decisions is a wonderful taste of adulthood.
“It’s a skin story for me,” Johnson said.
She feels that tattoos have “become a fad,” but relays her decision to get a tattoo to make a statement about herself that she knows she can “identify” with. “The significance was the most important aspect of the tattoo,” Johnson said.
A tattoo is “something you live with for the rest of your life – which I think is beautiful and creative,” Kunzmann says about her tattoo philosophy. For college freshmen, it seems that a tattoo isn’t just ink on your body, but a piece of art that is a part of you forever.