Tattooing a way to illustrate life, events for 40 million people

Picture this. You’re sitting in a room, surrounded by walls of clip art and graffiti. Your best friend is by your side, and the artist asks your preference.  

After the decision, the buzzing begins. It’s a constant buzzing. If the pain does not get you the sound will. Then it begins; the excruciating pain that goes along with the noise. 

Who would want to put themselves through the pain, the noise, and the after soreness?

According to the Pew Research Center, 36 percent of those ages 18 – 25 and 40 percent of those ages between 26 – and 40 have at least one tattoo.  That is over 40 million people in the world who have experience this pain of one or more tattoos.

So what’s the appeal and where did they come from?

Cate Lineberry wrote in the Smithsonian Magazine that the earliest forms of tattoos track all the way back to Egyptians in 2000 B.C. Following closely behind, traces were found on icemen from the Italian-Australian border. From then to now, tattoos have changed, elaborated, and been used for completely different reasons.

The Egyptians used tattoos as a way to share their love, their religion, and their social status. The tattoos were different, but always personal. Now tattoos can stand for anything, if anything at all.

For example, sophomore Robyn Burnette and her brother, graduate student Ryan Burnette, made the decision to get a matching tattoo; hers on her back and his on his shoulder.

The double Rs stand for their names while the wings represent for the struggles they have overcome together and the pink ribbon that was placed beneath honors their mother who survived breast cancer.

Senior Liz Head has thirteen tattoos, placed everywhere from her arm to her rib cage and her arms to her wrist. Why so many?

“I keep coming across life events that are worth commemorating,” Head laughed.  She explained each tattoo, from the solar system on her arms to the six shooters placed on each hip bone.

She explains the cursive breathe written across her wrist. 

“It’s to remind me to calm down, breathe, and to remember that things aren’t always as serious as I think,” she said.

Most tattoos are different, but all have very similar meanings.

Senior Richie Gordon admitted his most significant tattoos were his brother and sister’s names that were placed on his under arms.

“My family is the most important thing to me” Gordon said.

Family is a very common inspiration for tattoos, while other tattoos are not as close to the heart. Inked tattoo recently posted the 50 most common tattoos. Some of the top tattoos include, tribal, butterfly, and Japanese writing tattoos.  Others that are on the list are dragons, wings, stars, and crosses.

Tattoos have always been a way for a person to express themselves, and as Pamela Anderson once said, “Tattoos are like stories—they’re symbols of the important moments in your life.”