“…Comfortable in my own skin”: A look at student tattoos and their importance

This is the first in an occasional series about campus tattoos and their significants

Matt Brady, Freelance photographer

To older generations, tattoos might be seen as taboo or not tasteful. However, millions of Americans have embraced tattoos, including 23% of Gen Z, which includes traditional-aged college students.

For many, tattoos have become a source of therapy and healing, among the many reasons why individuals might get a tattoo. Many ECC have embraced tattoos.

“I got [the tattoo in] March 2021 [when] I was 18,” said ECC student Roxana Perez, who sports a beach wave tattoo located behind her left ear. “It was my first out-of-the-country trip. I went with all my friends, and we went to Cancun, and we just, like, spontaneously decided to get tattoos, like matching ones. We decided on beach waves for Cancun.”

To Perez, the tattoo became a remembrance of her first time traveling with her friends; it was also the first time her parents let her go “out of her boundaries,” becoming a free moment for her.

ECC student Yasmin Uriostegui has a calligraphy-style phrase across her bicep. It reads, “I am beautiful no matter what you say / You will not take that happiness away from me.”

“Around the time [of getting the tattoo], I was feeling really insecure, and because of the whole lockdown, I was going through a depression,” Uriostegui said. “There was someone who was, like, making fun of me a lot [at the time], and I know this is kind of funny, but I thought, ‘what if I get a tattoo with a double meaning?'”

Uriostegui stressed the importance of her tattoo, stating that phrase was for her “inner self” and her confidence; she articulated that if anyone decided to make fun of her again, they could just look at her tattoo and they’d get the message so she wouldn’t have to say anything.

ECC student Roswell Howells two of his tattoos, which depict the Loch Ness monster and a koi fish tattoo, which are across the entirety of his left shoulder. The tattoos, which he said he got in April or May, are inspired by his cats.

“I have two cats,” Howells said. “They’re both calico cats and they’re sisters. One of them is named Nessie after the Loch Ness monster [and] she’s a dilute calico, meaning she’s really gray and really shy. Her sister is a bright [orange and black] calico and her name is Fish because she looks like a koi fish. So, if you come to my house, and, just like in real life if you search for the Loch Ness monster, all you’ll find is Fish.”

To Howells, tattoos are a source of healing for the personal troubles in his life.

“I’ve had a lot of body issues my whole life,” he said. “It is also difficult being trans; having body issues from that [and also] having body issues from, you know, other various different sources [as well]. Getting tattoos makes me feel comfortable in my own skin and even if I have a really bad day and I don’t like anything about my body, I love the art that I’ve put on it, and that’s a part of me that I have to love.”