What’s Under the Ink

Using tattoos and stick and pokes in order to better express themselves, three students explain their reasoning behind getting body art.

Kathryn Case, Writer

As an 18th birthday present from his parents, senior Watchman Whitworth said he got two tattoos that allow him to remind himself who he is and feel closer to his family. 

Whitworth said he got “I love you” in sign language on his left tricep since his sister and mother both have the same tattoo, and on his right forearm a tattoo that says “you were made to meet your maker” in basic font. 

“My mom has always done the ‘I love you’ sign in sign language since we were little kids and it brings me childhood memories,” Whitworth said. “‘You were made to meet your maker’ is a song lyric, but it also reminds me that I believe when I die I’m going to heaven and it brings me a lot of serenity.”

Whitworth said he put a lot of thought into deciding on what to get for his tattoo. Having wanted his tattoos for almost a year before he got them, Whitworth said he believes people should make sure the tattoo they get is something they aren’t going to regret later in life.   

Although some students spend months thinking about their tattoos, there are several others who are more impulsive with their decisions. Getting a tattoo with his friends just after turning 18, senior Maclain Michael said he decided to do it impulsively because he believes tattoos are something that shouldn’t be taken too seriously. 

Since turtles have always been his favorite animal, Michael said it was an easy choice for his first tattoo. 

When it comes to getting tattoos, Michael said one should probably wait till they are older to get a tattoo, but if they want one now, being young shouldn’t stop them from getting it. 

“As long as you’re comfortable with getting a tattoo, I don’t think it’s negative in anyway,” Michael said. “It’s just a way to express yourself and it’s what you choose to do with your body and you should do it if you want to do it.”  

Michael said that even if he doesn’t like his tattoo when he is older, he will still be happy that he got it. 

“It’s a permanent reminder of who I am. Even if in 20 years I hate my tattoo, I’ll be glad that I got it, because when I was 18 I wanted it and it was what I liked,” Michael said.  

Getting a tattoo is a form of artwork that junior Rowan Ramey said he believes high schoolers find trendy, but since most high school students aren’t of the legal age to get one, they resort to giving themselves “stick and pokes,” which essentially is an at-home way of giving a tattoo. These are done by dipping a needle in ink, then poking the needle into the surface layer of skin, Ramey said. 

Ramey said he has always been passionate about using art to express himself, and giving himself stick and pokes is just another way for him to display his creativity. 

He started to give himself these tattoos when he was 14 years old, and Ramey said he has acquired a variety of different tattoos. He has an R on his left hand, a Saturn on his ankle, a smiley face on his hip and a heart on his knee. 

“I’m a very impulsive person so I usually give myself a stick and poke when I think of a cool design or just because it’s exciting and an adrenaline rush,” Ramey said. 

Similar to Michael, Ramey also said he believes tattoos shouldn’t be taken so seriously and they are one of the best ways to express who someone is as a person. 

“Tattoos are fun and can be a great way to express yourself. When you look at someone with tattoos, it can provide you an insight on their personality and what they care about,” Ramey said. “I don’t think it matters when you get a tattoo as long as you really like what you’re getting and you’re getting it because you want it.”

Having several tattoos herself, art teacher Chris LaValley said that many of her students come to her seeking her opinion on whether or not they should get a tattoo. She said her advice is that if a tattoo has some significance to them, then they should get it, but not if it is an on the spot decision.

“If they want a tattoo just to randomly get one just to get one, they should wait,” LaValley said. “A lot of times if you get them really early on, that first one you got you usually ask yourself why you got it, because your decision back then and what you’re going to want in 10 years is probably going to be totally different.”

Due to the excitement of turning 18, LaValley said, can cause some high schoolers to get tattoos impulsively. She said there is no need to rush getting a tattoo, considering they have their whole life ahead of them. 

Although some may think it is irresponsible to get a tattoo at such a young age, Ramey said students who get tattoos in highschool are confident in who they are, using their body as a creative outlet. 

“I like my tattoos and I’m proud of them because it’s like an art form, and I’m proud of my work,” Ramey said. “I think people get tattoos in high school because it makes them feel confident and attractive. They know who they are and are wanting to express their personality in a visual form.”