Jamie Aguilera, Overton freshman, is reassured of her value every time she looks at her left hand. It reads, “Only God can judge me.”
“I got this tattoo mainly because while growing up I had the issue of being too dark to hang out with these people and too light to hang out with these people. Since I am mixed it made it harder to make friends,” she said. This is one of nearly 10 tattoos that have had significant meaning throughout Aguilera’s life.
Americans spend $1.65 billion a year on tattoos, according to StatisticBrain.com. The site also stated 76 percent of U.S. adults between the ages of 18 and 40 have at least one tattoo.
“I know tattoos were the ‘taboo,’ the ‘you do not do things like that’ type of thing (once), but to me it was being able to have art that expresses yourself on you all the time,” Aguilera said. “I see it as I can have something on me that expresses who I am, and what I have been through. I think it is one of those things that everyone cannot do, due to the pain.”
While she admits a few have “hit those tender spots,” she still plans on getting more in the future, including a cover-up “with something more meaningful.”
According to the website, 43 percent of people with tattoos believe personal meaning is the most important factor.
“Tattooing is more than ink in skin,” said Stephanie Hulsey, local tattoo artist. “It’s expression that never fades; a memory or an image that stands with you for a lifetime.”
It’s this commitment that makes tattoos so appealing. Taking the time to figure out one’s self-expression is considered a rite of passage to many. With a decent sized tattoo, prices can still run from $50 to $150, depending on the shop and the reputation of the artist.
While tattoos are apparently become less taboo, it’s still important to be aware of their limitations. For example, the placement of the ink can affect one’s career later in life, public perception, persona, and manner of dress. Many places require tattoos to be hidden with makeup or covered up completely, making for a very limiting wardrobe.
Despite these limitations, getting inked still evokes strong emotions.
Hulsey, who owns Endlessly Divine in downtown Longview, appreciates what a good tattoo represents. “I want people to feel when they get a tattoo by me, that they are infinitely beautiful,” she said. “I love helping someone express an experience they have with friends or to keep a loved one they have lost close to them. Helping someone cover up that horrible kitchen tattoo that they hide every summer and now after getting a tattoo they can’t seem to keep their clothes on. I just want to help bring out the beauty they already possess.”
Here’s a few KC students who shared their stories with The Flare staff.
Karlie Money –
My tattoo is a representation of life. It’s a Hunter S. Thompson quote. [Too weird to live, too rare to die] It is a reminder that every person’s life has meaning, that each person is rare, you are your own person, and that your perfect and don’t have to change for the world.
Becca Finley –
I have 2 tattoos. One I got due to bullying during high school and it’s just a reminder to keep pushing on. The second I got with my twin brother. He is currently serving in the army and we have been close all our lives, so we got matching tattoos that say “sister’s protector” (his) and “brother’s keeper” (mine). I’m really proud of both of them.
Ruby Murphy –
I got my tattoo back in July of 2015 for my dad, who died of cancer that same month. It’s the Harley Davidson symbol (he had two motorcycles and loved them) with a rifle and a fishing pole going through it because he loved hunting and fishing. My sister and I both got tattoos that night for him. Hers is different than mine. Hers is an oil derrick (he worked in the oilfield for about 35 years). I got it done at Ink Armory in Longview. If you’re looking to get a tattoo, Meghan is amazing! It’s my only tattoo (so far) and it means a lot to me because to me, it represents him perfectly.
Amanda Vega –
Well I have 5 tattoos. All of them have a lot of meanings to me. The one on my back is my first tattoo. I got it at a very young age right after my brother passed away. We were never close and it is a way for me to always remember him. The one on my chest is the last one I got just last year. It is of a woman (me) blowing a dandelion and on three of the seeds you will find a little girl, one for each of my three girls. The girls and the butterflies have the only color. They are the only color I see in my world. The light of my life, my seeds, one day they will fly away. I plan on covering up my two on each wrist with sleeves that go to my elbow. Tattoos to me are a stress release and art that I will have with me always. They say you take nothing with you when you go. Not true tattoos are all you take with you.
Brett Oliver –
I have two tattoos. My first is the periodic symbol for Titanium. I had a spinal surgery where they put two Titanium rods in my back. The second tattoo I got because of my best friend. It is simply “be good” tattooed on my chest above my heart. I got it before she moved; she got it tattooed on her left wrist. We were talking about how different and difficult it would be and we wanted something that we’d both have throughout our lives to remind each other we are there for each other. Be Good is the title of a favorite song between her and I.