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Jayna Smith, Staff Reporter

May 9, 2012

When considering whether to get a tattoo or not, some people battle with religious, career and even personal concerns. No matter what the reasoning one thing is for sure: there are mixed feelings regarding tattoos and the choice to have any.

“If you plan on getting a tattoo, be prepared for the judgment,” said Spencer Kibbel, tattoo apprentice at Third Eye Tattoo.

A panel of eight people joined together on May 1 to discuss tattoos and the stigmas that go along with them. The event was put on by the Center for Diversity and Social Justice.

Those on the panel included people like Ivana Trottman, senior communication studies, who doesn’t have any tattoos but has contemplated getting one, and those who have many tattoos such as Patrick Molohon, senior anthropology, and Lynn Thompson, senior interdisciplinary studies.

“People have different various beliefs, so we need to have dialogue,” Molohon said.

For Thompson, each of her five tattoos means something important to her. She calls the one on her ankle, which she designed herself, her “apartment tattoo” because it was done by a guy in an apartment instead of a professional shop. She now wishes she would have waited to get it done in a tattoo parlor. Of her other tattoos, the largest is on her back and incorporates many themes stemming from her attempts to keep away the bad dreams that once plagued her. The tattoo is an image of a wolf howling at the moon and a war shield shaped like a dream catcher.

“I like having it,” Thompson said. “It’s like [it’s] watching my back.”

Tattoos have carried a negative stigma over the years and because of that, the panel discussed why getting a tattoo should be well thought out if someone wants to seek a professional career.

“People without tattoos view people with tattoos as unprofessional,” Molohon said.

With seven fairly large tattoos on his arms, back, chest, side and leg, Molohon said that all of his tattoos can be covered if needed for any business-related purposes.

Vicki Sannuto, a Career Services representatives on the panel, agreed that of all the places to get a tattoo, professionally the face would be the worst place to get one.

“There is a fine line between what is appropriate and what isn’t appropriate,” Kibbel said.

People in the crowd shared why they have tattoos and the beliefs that went along with their decisions to get them. Some had tattoos for military connections while others have them for religious reasons.

Many of the points made in the discussion came with life experiences. For Molohon, it was apparent how differently people perceived him before and after he started getting tattoos. Based on Thompson’s claims, the stigma is even worse for women. She feels that those without tattoos are quick to assume a person is a rebel or social outcast because of his or her tattoos.

The thought that others should decide what someone places permanently on his or her body created controversy amongst the panel and those in the crowd.

“If a tattoo is personal enough it shouldn’t matter what it looks like,” Kibbel said.

Viewpoints about tattoos are changing, and although there is still some negativity associated with body ink, the stigma is changing. Molohon feels that more and more people are getting tattoos, and that is going to force perceptions about them to evolve.

Tattoos Taboo? Or Right For You?


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