It’s no secret that tattoos are often still considered taboo in many societal circles. Consider certain workplaces, social situations, and religious groups that look down on tattoos or require cover-up or altogether abstinence.
There are more than a few to be named.
Though the practice of getting tattooed is becoming increasingly commonplace, specifically among younger generations, ideology surrounding the supposed purpose of tattoos can still be misconstrued—and often used to delegitimize tattoos without personal meaning.
Several Castleton University students are saying that, meaningful or not, they know their tattoos are here to stay and they couldn’t be happier about it.
“We are young, we should be able to be wild and expressive. I have a bunch of tattoos that are just random and fun,” said junior political science major Sky Hulser. “Why not? Most of the time I’m just bored and me and my friends go out to get tattoos just for the hell of it. A small memory, but forever part of my being.”
Hulser has six tattoos altogether, some of which have deeply personal stories and others that “just looked cool.” Among her favorites are a Kurt Cobain-inspired stick-n-poke, a mushroom on her lower torso, and an octopus on her calf.
“The octopus has a lot of personal meaning. My parents broke up before I was born, but they both coincidentally got octopus tattoos in their later lives. I’m the only common child between the two of them, so it’s a very personal piece just between me and them,” Hulser said with a beaming smile.
Student Olliver Young, a senior technical theatre major, also believes tattoos don’t necessarily have to be meaningful, but personally prefers a connection with his art.
“I definitely want to still feel like they connect or represent some part of who I am or my story. I want my future bigger tattoos to be more thought out and meaningful, but I also like having smaller pieces that are less meaningful.”
With two tattoos and a third one in the works, Young admitted both his first and second were somewhat unplanned designs.
The first, tattooed during a trip to London, depicts a moon and stars—something of great significance to Young. The second, a crescent wrench, was “even more unplanned” than his first, however, the inking stands as a reminder of an amazing experience.
“I was on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Washington D.C. and decided to get a tattoo with my friend on New Year’s Day. The crescent wrench is because I do tech theatre. The whole theme of the trip was ‘sending it sideways’ and it definitely fit into that,” Young said.
Another student, undeclared sophomore Brent Beers, has plans for meaningful tattoos, but the three he currently has are far from it.
In addition to a “random” knife, another one of Beers’ favorites is a recent tattoo of a ski trail post that reads “f*ck it” and “why not?” Beers argues this tattoo is not only the antithesis of his personality, but of tattoos in general.
“Tattoos definitely don’t need meaning, it’s just fun. It looks cool and getting then is an experience that leave stories. As long as you put thought into it, I’d recommend tattoos for anyone—because f*ck it, why not?”
Students like these at CU are becoming increasingly representative of the generational shift in tattoo discrimination and acceptance. Though stigma still surrounds the practice of inking and the contents of it, more individuals are getting tattooed than ever before and, ultimately, adaptation is imminent.
“They’re pieces of art, up to interpretation just like any other piece of art. The only interpretation that matters is whose body the tattoo is on,” Hulser said.