Tattoos are one of the oldest forms of art that have stuck around throughout generations.
Whether that's tattoos that hold significant meaning, such as individuals getting tattoos of the birth and death date of their loved ones or tattoos that individuals liked so they got, it should not influence how others see you. Even if it's just a silly tattoo that has no meaning, rather the memory or moment you got it holds significance, it shouldn't be the determining factor in whether or not someone decides if you're a good person.
I've been seeing a lot of backlash on social media lately. Whether it's troll pages saying that if you have tattoos that automatically makes you a whore, a drug addict, or a bad person, or actual pages being against tattoos, these pages all have something in common: the posts they make reflect how people sometimes actually feel about tattoos. Whether the truth is that often times employers are more likely to hire the person who doesn't have piercings or tattoos for the sake of "professionalism" or your friend's mom not wanting their daughter to hang out with you because you have a tattoo, where should the line be drawn? Why should tattoos reflect who people are on the inside or their work ethic when in actuality you're just seeing a little piece of them?
I reached out to 10 individuals to share their favorite tattoos, why it's their favorite, and how they feel about having tattoos in today's society and what it means to them.
"Tattoos shouldn't have a negative effect on people's opinions of you because tattoos are artwork."
"My sons' footprints are my favorite tattoos. I have several tattoos but these are my favorite because being their mom is the most important part of my life. No matter what happens in life, I will always be their mom. Tattoos shouldn't have a negative effect on people's opinions of you because tattoos are works of art. People get tattoos because they want to wear their artwork. Some tattoos have sentimental meanings, and some tattoos are beautiful artwork that the person wanted to wear on their body permanently." - Stephanie, 38.
"I felt obligated to get this on my calf because I was worried about how it would be perceived professionally."
"This is my favorite tattoo because I LOVE the Colts! I'm a huge football fan and will be for the rest of my life. I felt obligated to get this on my calf because I was worried about how it would be perceived professionally. Not because of people not accepting my love for the Colts, but because of people not accepting tattoos in general. Some of the nicest people I have ever met are covered in tattoos. They shouldn't be correlated with negative opinions/assumptions. Tattoos are art, and I believe even in the workplace that people should be allowed to wear them proudly!" - Cody, 24.
"As an education major though, people always chastise me for having tattoos that are easily visible."
"My tattoo says 4.5.2016 in Roman numerals under a hummingbird. This tattoo is really close to my heart because on that day, I was on a trip in Europe for my high school spring break and one of our teacher chaperones died that night while we were in Poland. It hit me really hard and I was really affected by it.
Hummingbirds symbolize the beauty and joy in life and living life to the fullest. My teacher died when he was only 23 while we were enjoying our vacation so it was a big shock and the tattoo reminds me of him and to be the best I can be every day, as well as how I had to be strong and push past an obstacle that really affected me.
As an education major though, people always chastise me for having tattoos that are easily visible. I tell them that the tattoo is a part of me. I often times forget that I even have them because I think of it as an extension of myself. They are an expression of my personality and what I've gone through, not the kind of person I AM or a reflection of my ability to be a productive member of society." - Sian, 20.
"The idea that this will be on me forever means more to me than working for someone who believes tattoos diminish someone's work ethic or persona."
"This is my favorite tattoo! It has a ton of meaning to me and reminds me every day of an amazing time in life. It reminds me of happy memories that are a great motivator to keep pushing for my dreams. As it is on my wrist, it could affect me being hired in multiple disciplines and workplaces; however, the idea that this will be on me forever means more to me than working for someone who believes tattoos diminish someone's work ethic or persona." - Gwen, 20.
"Tattoos shouldn't define your ability of working hard for a company and representing it professionally."
"This is one of many tattoos I have on my arms. To me, this tattoo has lots of different meanings, but to keep it short, it symbolizes the "hypnotic" temporary happiness/smiles we put on to pretend that "everything is okay". My tattoos shouldn't define me as a worker. If anything, I think visible tattoos show that a person is truly dedicated and willing to work hard for that job they're applying for because if they weren't, then they wouldn't try applying knowing the stigma of whatever visible (or non-visible) tattoos they have. Tattoos shouldn't define your ability to work hard for a company and representing it professionally. We can break that stigma together and I can show you personally why tattoos don't define someone's work ethic."- Matt, 22.
"They don't define my abilities or who I am. They are just an extension of myself."
Coverup done by Sam Leyes at Black Sword Alliance in Muncie, Indiana.
"I love my tattoo(s) because they give me the ability to express myself and my body how I want to. They make me feel so beautiful and sexy and give me so much confidence. I don't think my tattoos should influence how others perceive me because they are just a part of how I express myself and represent something beautiful. They don't define my abilities or who I am. They are just an extension of myself." - Mercedes, 20.
"Nobody should judge me for my tats because they have no idea where I would be without them to remind me."
"I got this tattoo based on the lyrics of my favorite Neck Deep song, "In Bloom". The whole song is about having to grow as a person, and people sometimes have issues with that. And I got it in October of 2017, and then in December I had the worst heartbreak of my life and the tattoo literally saved my life on multiple occasions because it reminded me that I had so much growing left to do and I was going to keep blooming and I was going to become a new person. It's my favorite of my ten tattoos and I wouldn't trade it for the world, and nobody should judge me for my tats because they have no idea where I would be without them to remind me." - Emily, 21.
"So getting this tattoo was a why of remembering that time and story in my families life."
"I've been interested with tattoos ever since I was a little kid. I saw it as one of the world's greatest art forms, and means of self-expression. This one on my back has a hidden story as to why I got it. The story is, back when my great great grandparents on my mom side emigrated from Mexico. It's said that Pancho Villa himself road his horse through my great great grandparent's house when he and his men were looking for young men to recruit for his army. So getting this tattoo was a why of remembering that time and story in my family's life." - Zack, 23.
"I knew it was permanent when I got it but the love that I have for my grandmother is permanent, too."
Holly proceeded to show me mementos that reminded her of her grandmother and the significance that these hold in her heart.
"This is my favorite tattoo and is really important to me because my grandmother died when I was in middle school. Her favorite flower was always a yellow rose so I was thinking for years about getting a yellow rose on my body, yet I was unsure where. I finally decided to get it on my shoulder. My parents are laid back people who have tattoos so they didn't care that I wanted one. My junior year my mom said we could go get some pricing done after one of my rehearsals. We went to get the pricing done and I had found an artist that I liked and luckily enough he had a cancellation so I got it done then and there. I've never been happier about a decision. I knew it was permanent when I got it but the love that I have for my grandmother is permanent, too. She never got to attend anything important, such as my middle school or high school graduation. She didn't get to see the person I blossomed into today, so getting this tattoo is as if I have my own angel on my shoulder." - Holly, 20.
"My tattoos shouldn't reflect negatively upon me because as equal individuals, we can express ourselves however we like."
Heavily inspired by the band 'The Color Morale', both of Matt's sleeves were done by Brandi Bruce in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
"I chose this entire sleeve as my favorite of the many tattoos I have. The dark realistic theme of the sea represents a 'struggling to get out of water' feeling we may sometimes experience from mental health problems. Mental health awareness holds a very deep meaning for me. 'KNOW HOPE' (HOPE also standing for 'Hold On, Pain Ends'), which is why it stands above the sea.
My tattoos shouldn't reflect negatively upon me because as equal individuals, we can express ourselves however we like. Tattoos, to most, hold deeper inspiration and meaning than just drawing on someone's skin. Some of the greatest people in the world are covered in tattoos. The ink on my skin doesn't represent my skills or even the energy I personally radiate, and at the end of the day I'll always know who I am." - Matt, 22.
At the end of the day, each tattoo holds a significant meaning to the individual that gets it. Whether it is a sentimental meaning or they got it just because they liked the piece of art, having tattoos in no way reflects who a person is on the inside. Whether that is professionally or ethically, tattoos are amazing forms of self-expression, however, they are not skin deep and should not be a factor in determining if someone is a good person.
A special thank you to all the participants displayed in this article for opening up on their favorite tattoos and their meanings.