Express yourself even if people don’t understand (Opinion)

I will continue to get tattoos despite the criticism I receive from adults


Izzy Erickson

Tattoos are just another way to show who you are. Original art from featured image uniquely made for The Mav.

I got my first tattoo when I was 16 years old. It was a birthday present from my father, and it was something that we did together. While we didn’t get the same tattoos or tattoos that compliment each other, this experience helped build a memory I won’t ever forget. Especially because it is permanently inked on my body.

I am now 18 years old, and I have two tattoos; I am planning on getting more in the future.

My father has a lot of tattoos, so I grew up with him having this form of art on his body. I loved it. I couldn’t wait until I was allowed to get my own. Tattoos are art — they are a form of self expression for both the artist and the person getting the tattoo.

The client works with the tattoo artist to design something they want. Whether the tattoo has a deeper meaning to it or not, the client puts a part of themselves into the tattoo when they describe the tattoo they’re looking for and then sit through the time that it takes to ink it. The artist also puts a sincere effort into the tattoo when they take the time to draw it up and alter it if it isn’t exactly what the client wants. Then, when the artist is actually tattooing the piece onto the client, they spend a good deal of time making it perfect with shading, colors, lines, or even matching the handwriting of a client’s loved one — putting part of themselves into the piece.

So why is it that young people get so much criticism for tattoos?

Is it because you shouldn’t be “poisoning” your body? Is it because tattoos don’t align with many religions? Is it because “no one will want to hire someone with tattoos”? Is it because someone “might not like it when they’re older”?

These are all things that have been said to me by adults about my tattoos. And, frankly?

I don’t care.

I think the problem is that many people will criticize anything they don’t like. And because they have a right to freedom of speech by the First Amendment, they think they can say whatever they want to me. Well, just because you have freedom of speech doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk.

I don’t care about what other people think about my tattoos. They are meaningful to me, and I’m going to get something even if someone else doesn’t understand the meaning behind it.

My tattoos are a way that I express myself and mean a lot to me. That being said, I do not think that all tattoos should have meaning behind them — if someone wants to get something, let them do it. It is their body after all. And if someone simply doesn’t want to explain the meaning behind their tattoo to you, that’s alright too.

My first tattoo is of a geometric wolf with watercolor music notes and a semicolon. I got it because wolves have been my favorite animal since I was a little girl as I grew up with a three-quarters wolf mix. Music has always been important to me and helped me work through my depression. As for the semicolon, it is commonly used to symbolize a person that has moved beyond their depression and is trying to continue forward to the next part of their story.

My second tattoo is from a book series that I started reading when I was 12 years old, have continued to read since, and will continue to read in the future as installments continue to be published. Within the books, there are runes (symbols that give the individual certain skills or abilities like strength or fearlessness), and I got the rune that means strength. I have been having a hard time lately, like many people because of the pandemic, and I needed a reminder that I am strong and can get past the hard times.

I don’t expect people to understand, and I know that I will face criticism about them for years to come, but I don’t understand why I should have to face that criticism. Tattoos are becoming more and more normalized in culture, and businesses aren’t segregating against individuals with tattoos anymore, as long as they are not outwardly inappropriate or vulgar.

As for tattoos not aligning with religions, I am not religious. I haven’t been for most of my life, and I don’t have any plans to be in the future. So when people try to guilt me for my tattoos using their own religion, it doesn’t really bother me. I am not going to suddenly believe in something I don’t because of a religious person’s strong feelings about my tattoos.

I will continue to express myself and will continue to get tattoos as long as I can because I enjoy getting tattoos. I enjoy being able to tell a story about my tattoos.

I enjoy being able to support the artists that have often faced criticism from individuals about tattooing not being a “real job”. Many artists have faced criticism for being artists in general, but tattoo artists can face even more criticism from people that don’t like tattoos.

Yeah, I am a teenager, and yeah, I might not like my tattoos in the future. But at the very least, it will be a memory I can look back on to remember my youth. You only have one life, so you shouldn’t live it to the point you will regret not doing something.

It’s about time that adults accept that just because they don’t agree with something, it doesn’t mean they can look down on a teenager that does like it.