According to a 2015 Harris Poll, 47 percent of U.S. adults ages 18-29 have one or more tattoos. While some may argue that it doesn’t matter if a tattoo has a significant meaning, young people are increasingly using their ink to tell their story. We reached out to college students to dispel the idea that all tattoos are coming from Pinterest.
Here are a few of the students who shared their stories with us:
Adrianna, a student studying marketing and graphic design, uses a pair of dice tattoo to remember her Aunt Nancy, who served as her protector against an abusive family member.
“She was the glue that held my family together and the person who I would call to come get me when I was scared. Dice were always clanking in her purse, as Zilch was one of her favorite games,” Adrianna said.
Adrianna said that during hard times she has found dice in random places like her drawers and backpack -- a comforting reminder that her that her aunt is watching over her.
Cheyenne's “Plague Doctor” tattoo illustrates a history lesson that has stuck with her. Before modern germ theory was accepted, Miasma theory held that diseases like the Black Death spread through "bad air," sometimes called night air.
In order to protect themselves against the plague and ward off the smell of death, doctors filled these beak like masks with flower petals and cloths dipped in perfume. They believed that if the air smelled better, it would combat the “poisoned” air.
Although these doctors were wrong about how to treat those suffering from the plague, Cheyenne uses her tattoo as a reminder that it is better to try and fail than to not try at all.
By the way, you might catch a glimpse of these masks during the Venetian carnival celebrations as well.
Maddy, a junior studying journalism, stays connected to her inner child and creative powers with her "Harry Potter"-themed cat tattoo. She frequently reminisces over the carefree days of her childhood and comfort from her furry friend.
“When I was a kid, I used to read Harry Potter to my cat,” Maddy said. She isn’t alone. Schools and animal shelters have been partnering up to help kids practice reading aloud to a furry companion in a judgment-free zone.
Here's Maddy's tattoo.
Courtney got her tattoo to serve as a daily reminder.
"After a difficult first year in college, I found myself reading 'Meditations' by the Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. The book spoke to me in a way that allowed me to transform my view of the world and my place in it," she said. "The quote that stuck with me the most was 'To live in accordance with nature.' Stoic nature is the environment made for you by fate and how you move forward is the only thing you can actually control."
This guy approves of Courtney's tattoo.
The decision to share a story through a permanent art piece on your body can be difficult. But besides being a great conversation starter, tattoos allow you to express yourself in a way that may not be captured through your job, outfit, or personal interests. And besides, let’s be honest -- they are pretty badass.
(This was a contribution from Circa Campus, a partnership with colleges around the nation, through GenFKD fellowship.)