The octopus on my arm: Making the choice to ink up

Payton Moore

It’s a decision often hard to make, but permanently marking one’s body with tattoos does not seem to faze students.

According to a study done by the Pew Research Center in 2013, 40 percent of young Americans (ages 18-25) have at least one tattoo. Taking the plunge to get a tattoo has never been so accessible — the city of Kent alone has four tattoo parlors — but are students really weighing the pros and cons of inking?

For senior accounting major Lilly Bernath, her tattoo of an octopus wrapping around a shipwreck meant more than aesthetics.

“It celebrated an eight-year anniversary of adapting… Octopi are super intelligent and adaptive, and it represented change,” Bernath said.

Aside from Bernath’s arm sleeve, she has had a cover up tattoo done on her ankle.

“It reminded me of someone, and I covered it so it would remind me more of myself,” she said.

Junior exercise science major Cody LaRosa and senior premedical biology major Mike Slezak don matching tattoos of “Family first” on their arms, but their opinions differ on whether tattoos are always the right decision for when students feel the need to ink.

“My step-brother is a tattoo artist, so I could have tons of tattoos, but I just choose not to unless I really have something that I want,” LaRosa said. “I wanted a tattoo for a while, I’m just really, really picky. I thought, what’s something I’m never going to not like? And that’s family.”

For many, tattoos are off limits because of future employment opportunities. Slezak noted the likelihood of him working in the medical field and how he would never get something he could not cover with a T-shirt.

“It’s not like (employers) can discriminate against you for having tattoos, but they will tell you to cover them up. It’s just a pain in my butt,” Slezak said. “I definitely wouldn’t ever get a neck tattoo.”

Although college students may not immediately regret their decision to ink, the chances of removal later in life are possible, said piercer Mike Jagel of Defiance Tattoos.

“More often than not, people that come in for a cover up have had their tattoo for at least five years,” Jagel said.

Jagel said the main reason he thinks people regret getting tattooed is because of the impulsivity often found in college students. However, that impulsivity is never derived from intoxication, as Defiance will not tattoo under the influence.

“Everyone who has a lot of tattoos has some they don’t love,” he said. “It’s the choice you make when you decide to get one.”

Contact Payton Moore at [email protected]