Tattoo spotlight: Students’ ink prove deeply personal, artful

Delila Ames / The Miscellany News

To our parents’ generation, tattoos are a defining characteristic of a low social standing. Yet this is changing rapidly, as the sentimentality behind most tattoos nowadays render them a form of art. I spoke to several Vassar students about their tattoos, and their reflections were sometimes sensitive, often personal and always distinct. Here are a few of their stories.

Delila Ames / The Miscellany News

My second tattoo I got was a hawk eye on my right shoulder, and part of it has to do with the fact that my dad has really bad vision; he’s legally blind. So I actually have three hawks below the main hawk eye, flying in the mountains, and the clouds and those are representative of my dad, my uncle and my grandfather—the three males on my dad’s side of the family. Hawks are kind of my spirit animal. I always had a personal connection with that. That’s my favorite tattoo I have.All my tattoos are family-involved. My dad doesn’t really have tattoos, so I decided on a symbol for him, and now he feels obliged to get one. He hates tattoos. It’s a Spartan medallion on my back, and he’s gonna go get one.They all have meaning; I don’t get them out of nowhere. Mine have all been planned for over a year at least before I get them. My parents even help me out: One of mine ended up costing more than I expected so I took a loan out from them, and so they’re supportive in that way too. – Alec Yeany ’21

Delila Ames / The Miscellany News

My tattoo is inspired by Ötzi the Iceman. Ötzi was a man Bronze Age who was frozen in a glacier and mummified. It was theorized the tattoos might have marked the locations for acupuncture treatments, or maybe the tattoos were the treatments. He had 61 tattoos on his body over his lower back and joints. They were all in the lines like I have on my body, in lines and little x’s. I got seven of those to represent seven people in my family because they help me heal, and three lines to represent three people I’ve lost in my life to remind me why I’m here. So each line he put was to alleviate pain, and each line on me means each member of my family alleviates pain.It’s funny because my parents hate tattoos, and I got them for my family. A little ironic, I know. But when I called my mom and told her about it, she paused. I was expecting a lecture, but she just paused and then she said, “I don’t know how you could take something I hate so much and turn it into something I love.” – Reis Kissel ’22

Delila Ames / The Miscellany News

It’s a Spartan head with an olive branch. I drew it. I got it because my dad and I started doing Spartan Races when I was about 14 and that’s how we became close, like he’s my best friend. My ride or die. They’re obstacle course races, anywhere from three to 15 miles through mountain terrains and ski slopes. There’s mud, fire, barbed wire, a ton of obstacles. I added in the olive branch because the Spartan head is aggressive and intense, while the olive branch is a symbol of peace and balances me out. It’s a reminder to be composed, because I can be aggressive and punchy and get what I want. It’s specifically shown when I’m exercising and wearing a racerback tank top. It pushes me to work harder because if I’m not pushing it 100 percent athletically, I’m, like, dishonoring the tattoo. Give it all you have. – Sabrina Stacks ’20

Delila Ames / The Miscellany News

The one in the middle of my back is my last name in Chinese, Chang, and me and all of my cousins got it together. The two words on my shoulders are “Familia siempre” because I’m half Chinese and half Mexican, and my mom was kind of jealous that I didn’t have anything that represented my Mexican side. We were supposed to get matching tattoos of those two words on our shoulders, and then she chickened out after I got mine, and so I have them now and she doesn’t.I didn’t tell my parents about the first one; I thought they would be mad. Then I showed them like three months later and they said, “Oh we knew you got one, we saw your debit card transaction.” When we were younger, my mom said tattoos were horrible, but now that I have them, she’s changed her mind because they have sentimental value. – Clare Basler-Chang ’22

Delila Ames / The Miscellany News

The reason is a bit of a bummer. My rib cage was an area that I would self-harm when I was younger. While there weren’t a lot of visible scars in the area, I would look in the mirror and see this really terrible sign. I wanted to put something pretty there so that when I look at it, I’ll always see something beautiful. I don’t want to forget that it did happen, but I also don’t want a sad reminder. I picked a chrysanthemum specifically because there’s this book called “Chrysanthemum” that I really liked when I was a kid. It was about this little mouse who hated her name and was bullied at school, and then her teacher had a daughter and named her Chrysanthemum. And my name isn’t like super unique, but my mom would read it to me and say “Your name is unique.” – Miriam Cubstead ’22

Delila Ames / The Miscellany News

My neighborhood I’m from is called Diamond Heights, so I figured I could do some sort of tribute to where I’m from. I actually drew it, and the artists resized it to make sure the lines wouldn’t bleed. My parents would definitely be a little grossed out when I talked to them about tattoos before I ever got one, asking, like, why would you ever do that to your body? I didn’t tell them initially—I told them probably a month after for both of them, and at first they were shocked, but then they didn’t really care. – Nathan Logan ’22

Delila Ames / The Miscellany News

I danced for 14 years of my life. I was a big ballet girl, and my favorite role was Rose in the Nutcracker, so that’s why it’s a rose. So that role kinda changed my life. I loved to dance, but then I gained some weight from birth control and I came here thinking that I’d be able to get into a company. But, I had gained weight so I didn’t get into a company, and dance broke my heart. I’ve had a rocky past with dance, and it’s kind of made me hate my body. Then last year I got this, and the petals are falling off because I felt like my love of dance was fading—but it’s representative of a stage in my life where I wanted it on me forever so I could always remember it. – Adriana DeLuca ’22

Delila Ames / The Miscellany News

It’s two circles overlapping, like a Venn diagram. The middle part, the union, is shaded in. It’s two matching pieces; my mother got the same piece, but has the outside shaded in. It fits together, one full piece. She’s on the outside, protecting me, and I’m in the middle. My mom completes me and I complete her. – Eamon Geraghty ’22

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