top of page

CMCers Show Some Skin

December 8, 2010

Ellie Beckett
CMCers Show Some Skin

A Life Magazine poll in 1936 estimated that roughly 6% of Americans had tattoos. According to the Pew Research Center, 38%  Americans aged 18-29 now have one or more. With over a third of our generation deciding to go under the needle, questions emerge about the future of ink in America.  Are tattoos just passing fads, or are they proof of changed standards formality that are here to stay?

I’m biased towards the latter verdict. It’ll be a little tougher to throw my tattooed foot in the closet than it was my Ugg boots and Beanie Babies. Once you get a tattoo, especially if it’s visible, you can expect to have "the tattoo conversation" almost daily: What does it mean? Did it hurt? Why did you get it? Aren’t you worried about your career?Any regrets? Do you want any more?

Perhaps the biggest hurdle to overcome is finding something that really represents your individuality. Maybe you will yearn for ink that is meaningful, classy, and something you think you’ll never get sick of-- it will be there forever.

Coming to terms with the permanence boils down to thoughtfulness and your perspective on life.  Junior Dan Evans says of the subject, “Lots of people say oh you'll have it forever, and I'm like yeah, so when I'm old and dying I'll be like that was awesome when, you know, I was young."

The way sophomore Johnny Lenahan sees it, “The permanent aspect of tattoos never troubled me very much. Each person's life is so short that nothing really seems permanent.” Harmony Palmer, class of 2013, takes a different approach to permanence. Her tattoo represents something just as permanent as the ink itself, “family is permanent, so getting a tattoo that represented family just seemed to fit.

Freshman Daniel Price’s tattoo also has a timeless meaning, his tattoo is a symbol that stands for “The Triumph of Life.” The permanence of this idea made sense to him, “ I was attracted to the idea that whenever I look at my feet I will be reminded that I am alive, and that I have no reason to be anything but positive and happy, because life triumphs everything.”

We’ve all been warned about how unprofessional it is to have a visible tattoo. Across the board CMCers simply say, keep it coverable. Most students think that in an ideal world having a tattoo shouldn’t matter at all for your profession. Be that as it may, we are a practical student body and understand the status quo. As Johnny believes, “Tattoos should have no effect on job opportunities or an individual's professionalism. However, many (older) people still make negative assumptions about people with tattoos.”

A sophomore who preferred to remain unnamed reflects on society and her own judgments, “The more I think about it, the more I realize that these standards of professionalism are completely arbitrary, I mean who is to say that having tattoos is unprofessional and why do they get to make that judgment? Regardless, I am subject to these standards and honestly they have somehow been engrained in me too.” My opinion? Tasteful tattoos will only become more accepted as we get older. I find ink-free to be an old fashioned standard of professionalism, but I’m not willing to bet my skin on that prediction, and will keep mine to easily coverable places until I have an established career.

The tattoo stigma isn’t only present in the professional realm. The social stigma among peers is no less real. There definitely seems to be a “type” that gets a tattoo. Dan Evans jokes his tattoos “upped my hipster point total by about 50%, which led me to buy a pink 80s road bike and start rolling my jeans into capris.  How am I supposed to get a beer at a CMC party when I look like I go to Pitzer?”

Junior Chelsee Cox’s perspective on her tattooed comrades is a positive one. “People with tattoos have stories to tell.” Unique tattoos are intriguing, too. Harmony loves the expression and individuality illustrated in tattooing, but thinks generic tattoos spoil the purpose. "Instead of portraying I am my own person, standard tattoos are saying look, I can be like everyone else. Harmony’s opinion is a common one. People often get tattoos for meaningful reasons, but just as often people get them to be rebellious, prove a point, or because everyone else has one. Daniel Price says, “sometimes I don't want people to see it, merely because I feel like a lot of people think that I'm just trying to be cool by getting tatted.”

So you want to get inked? Here's some advice:

  • Junior Julian Martinez colorfully describes the sensation of getting a tattoo as, “a cat scratching a bad sunburn." He suggests that if the pain is what deters you, you may want to think twice. “That is a clear sign that the tattoo's meaning is not all that important to you.”

  • Johnny says, “Don’t let the social stigma placed on tattoos deter you from putting something meaningful on you, life is too short to be restricted from doing what you want based on bullshit social norms.”

  • Similarly, Chelsee advises,“Don't listen to what others think, make it something you like and get it where you like. You have to live with it forever, they don't have to.”

  • Making sure you like it might be the tricky part. Daniel Price suggests that you, “take the image of what you think you want and put it in one of your drawers. Six months later, open up that drawer, and see if you still actually want it.


A: Johnny Lenahan

B: Julian Martinez

C: Harmony Palmer

D: Johnny Lenahan

E: Ethan Harry

F: Erica Bellman

G: Jack Oliphant

H: Ethan Harry

I: Dan Evans

J: Cori Solomon

K: Chelsee Cox

L: Ellie Beckett

M: Chelsee Cox

bottom of page