Not your daddy’s tattoo

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MARY BOVE/THE HIGHLANDER

Tattoos of first year Mary Bove, first year, Alexandra Diltz and Fred Croop, Dean of College of Professional Studies and Social Sciences.

Alexandria Smith, Reporter

People are campus are getting personal about their body art. Tattoos have evolved from a cultural shame to a highly popular form of body modification among people of all ages and walks of life.

This is true for Dr. Fred Croop, Dean of the College of Professional Studies and Social Sciences.  Croop, who is the owner of a red dragon from the Welsh National flag and a Native American armband with feathers, said the reasons for his body art are purely personal.  They honor his heritage and family. “My mother devoted her whole life to raising us [my brother and I] and was always there when I needed her. Her parents came here from Wales to work the mines, again, and I always connected with that, what they fought through and persevered through,” said Croop. “Now, I’ll tell you about my dad. He taught me everything that a father should teach. If I could be more like him in character… I wish I was.”

The desire to tattoo is not new. According to the New York Times, the art of tattooing has gained significant popularity as a fashion accessory, a trend “fueled by basketball players, bands and celebrities” since the 1950s, a time when tattoos were associated with bikers, criminals, and the military.

“This stereotype may have been the case years ago, but most of the people I knew with tattoos were in the military,” said Croop. “I was a baby boomer, so a lot of these adults had been in World War II, and had gotten their tattoos during the war. I didn’t know many other people that had them at the time, so I didn’t associate them with anything other than military.”

Patriotic tattoos are just one of the many designs that continue to pop up in today’s tattoo culture. Students on campus sport ink that relates to the ideas of family, life, and hope.

Junior Erin Mills has two tattoos, a Triquetra-Celtic knot with music notes and the word “Breathe.”  She associates them with her siblings, the role that music has played in her life, and perseverance.  “The word ‘breathe’ tells me that all of the stress and troubles are not here to stay and that things will get better. When things are going well in my life, however, this tattoo reminds me to breathe in the good life. Enjoy it while it lasts. I’m actually surprised how much this tattoo actually helps me.”

Many members of the Class of 2015 also have tattoos. Jeff Dittmer has a traditional German Iron Cross filled with the colors of the Italian national flag and the Italian word ‘Vinco,’ which is written down the center of the cross.  It means ‘I overcome. I defeat’ said Dittmer. “When I was nine, I was in a car accident that should’ve killed me—but didn’t. I always keep in mind that if I can overcome death, there isn’t much worse that I will have to face.”

Alex Diltz, who has two tattoos, associates her designs with her family and love. “I got my first tattoo in remembrance of my brother who died at birth. The word ‘faith’ underneath the bird is to always have faith in everything you do and everything that happens,” said Diltz. “The second tattoo ‘love’ was put on my foot because love is a very important thing in life between friends, family and a relationship.”

Lyndsay Kusko connects her single tattoo to her late twin sister. “My tattoo is on my right wrist and it’s the initials KMK with 9-16-92 underneath, which is my birthday. I chose this design because I am a surviving identical twin, and KMK is my late sister’s initials. Me and my older sister got the same tattoo in the same spot to show respect for our sister.”

Mary Bove sports a feather with birds flying out at the top on her back, and another tattoo with the words “La Vie Boheme” on her heels. “I got my first tattoo because I just love birds and feathers. I saw a photo of it on Tumblr originally, and I got a henna of it on my shoulder at Senior Week, and I loved it. About a month later I decided to take a leap, and just got it done,” said Bove. “My second tattoo I got on my heels, because I saw a photo of a tattoo placed there and I thought it was really unique. The phrase ‘La Vie Boheme’ comes from the Broadway play, ‘Rent.’ It is my favorite play, and one of my favorite songs.”

Nikki Singiser, on the other hand, ties her tattoo to her beliefs. “I knew I wanted some kind of Christian symbol and so I went online looking for ideas. I finally decided about the cross with the fish. I chose to get it on my foot, so I’m always reminded that I walk with Jesus.”

First Year Melissa Spinden dedicated her tattoo—the word hope with the letter ‘e’ as an orange ribbon—to her mother, who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. “I do not regret and will never regret my tattoo, 100 percent, because I know that when my mom has passed, my sister and I can look at our tattoos and be reminded of her and all that she has done for us,” said Spinden.

Croop said as that while tattoos can bring people together, they also can push people away. “I never want anyone to take a getting a tattoo lightly because there are risks involved no matter what, some physical and some with regards to life choices, or what you can do later in life,” said Croop. “Once you get a tattoo, although you can get it removed and it’s very expensive and painful.  It’s there forever. So you really have to think through those choices because it is permanent.”

Mills said she does not regret her decision.  “Having tattoos is not as taboo as it once was. Of course, I’m well aware of the stigma surrounding them, but I look at it this way: My body is my own and I have the right to display art on it if I so choose,” says Mills, who plans to add more.