Individualistically inked: student expression through tattoos

A look into student tattoos around RHS

April 9, 2021

“This life is mine to live.”

Six simple words from All Time Low’s Future Hearts album. It’s a special phrase for Emily Dusold (’21), taken from the album that’s gone from music in her headphones to a commemorated symbol on her skin. Dusold is one of many Robinson students with a tattoo, a timeless yet increasingly popular form of self-expression.

In Florida, persons over 16 may get tattoos with parental permission. Getting a tattoo without parental permission is one of the many luxuries of turning 18; for many high schoolers, it’s a mark of adulthood.

“It was a positive experience! My dad was there and the artist was nice. It didn’t hurt much, I actually almost fell asleep. From start to finish it only took a little more than an hour,” Dusold said.

“I plan on getting many more, I want my next one from an all-female shop in Ybor [City] and I want it to be based on The Handmaid’s Tale,” – Emily Dusold (’21), on future tattoos. (Photo Anna Woodward)
“It was pleasant. I thought it was going to be painful but it wasn’t, it was just a pinch,” – Daniel Severino (’21), on going to get his first tattoo. (Photo Anna Woodward)

Emma Geerholt (’22) got her first tattoo the day after her 17th birthday as a gift from her parents. Seeing as Geerholt’s parents and brothers have tattoos, the gift was meaningful and exciting to receive. Today, she has three, decorating her forearms and left collarbone.

“It was a pretty easy experience for each of my tattoos honestly. My artist is someone who’s worked on my family members, as well as some of the other artists in the shop,” Geerholt said. “I just kinda walked in one day and asked how much the tattoo I was looking to get would be and then we set up a date and went from there. It was simple and easy.”

Geerholt’s tattoos are inspired by things that bring her joy, and long-awaited tributes to her loved ones.

“My first tattoo actually resembles the whole idea of new chapters and two things that have always brought me joy. My second one is a piece for my childhood animals that have passed away and my third one is ‘I Love You’ in my grandmother’s handwriting,” She explained. “Both of my parents have tattoos and my brother is covered in them, so I’ve always just kind of been surrounded by them. I’m also an artist, so art and tattoos have always been fascinating to me and I think they’re beautiful.”

Family was also the inspiration behind Daniel Severino’s (’21) first tattoo: three lines of text reading “no rain/no flowers/1983.” 18-year-old Severino got his tattoo three months ago to honor his mother, who was going through a tough time. His mother wasn’t aware of the gesture until a month later.

“She was kind of mad at first, but then realized the meaning of it,” Severino said. “She got emotional and she liked it.”

Severino has already started planning to get another tattoo, this time a Peruvian symbol of an Incan compass.

Even in the 21st century, a stigma surrounds tattoos, forcing those interested in getting one to consider the impacts it may have on getting a job, or simply being judged. However, as of 2018, “38% of Millennials have tattoos,” with research suggesting that those with tattoos are equally likely to get a job offer compared to those without tattoos. On top of that, “63% of people age 60 and older find tattoos inappropriate in a workplace while only 22% of people ages 18-25 think they are inappropriate…around 70% of children do not mind if their caregivers or pediatricians have them.

“[Judgement] definitely was something I thought about, mainly because two of them are on my forearms and a lot of people don’t like the tattoos, the whole aspect of being able to see them,” Geerholt said. “At one point, I just stopped caring, I was like ‘I’ll just find a job that’ll accept it.’ There was definitely me being worried that my family members would judge me because I’m young and I have so many, but then I realized that no one’s really going to care.”

One tattoo is often the first of many, a common theme for many Knights. Memories of loved ones, symbols of new chapters and simply humorous images; either way, they’ll all come from the mind, translated through the ink.

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Individualistically inked: student expression through tattoos