“You just want it to be all you forever:” Another look at student tattoos and their importance

This story is the second in a series about campus tattoos and their significance.

Matt Brady, Photo editor


Seated in a booth, laptop laid out in front of her and dimly lit by the orange fluorescent lights that line the ceiling of Building B, first-year student Shea Alston explains the reasoning behind getting her tattoo: butterflies that run up the side of her torso, which she got the day of her 18th birthday.

“I’ve always really liked butterflies,” Alston said. “I have a lot of anxiety [too, so] butterflies have been a grounding thing for me, so that’s why I got it.”

To Alston, tattoos resemble memories that can be remembered.

“I think [tattoos are important] because they’re a permanent thing and it can be a memory of something,” Alston said.

It’s no surprise to see college students across the nation decorated with this medium of art. Alston is in a long line of young Americans getting tattoos; 47% of Americans aged 18-29 have at least one tattoo.

Second-year student Gianna Daufenbach talked about a couple of her tattoos, which include a decorative flower and a quote.

At just 17 years old, Daeufenbach got her first tattoo, which symbolizes her grandmother.

“My first tattoo was my grandma’s favorite flower,” Daeufenbach said. “She passed away when I was little [and] I felt really close to her. I felt like it was a good symbol to recognize her by.”

Her second tattoo, a simple quote written in beautiful cursive across her arm which reads, “One day at a time,” helps her cope with the overwhelming feeling of everyday anxiety.

“I struggle a lot with anxiety, just worrying a lot and I overthink and tend to worry about the future, so it’s just a good reminder to take things slow […] because every day’s a new chance,” Daeufenbach said.

To Daeufenbach, tattoos symbolize personal identity and values.

“Honestly, I think tattoos are just more of a symbol of who you are as a person,” Daeufenbach said. “You can kind of, like, gauge what a person likes or what kind of things they’re interested in by their tattoos. My tattoos are more minimalist and [show how] I like to keep things organized. It kind of matches my personality, but just like things that are really important to you and make you up as a whole person.”

ECC student Sophia Feliciano showcased multiple tattoos as well, which include the moon, the son, and a crying heart.

The first tattoo she got was the moon, which she got at a young age.

“I got it when I was, like, 15,” Feliciano said. “I was at a punk rock concert [and] I got it in the basement; it’s kind of crazy and it was an experience, honestly.”

Her latest tattoo was depicted a crying heart, which is located on the inside of her right arm.

“[The tattoo] is a representation of, like sadness I suppose, or just the s— I’ve been through.” Feliciano said. “Each tear is something that’s happened but grown from it. […] You can say I wear my heart on my sleeve I guess.”

Feliciano voiced her insightful views on tattoos as a whole, explaining the dangers of boxing yourself into a popular tattoo ideology.

“If you put yourself into a box of, ‘A tattoo has to have meaning,’ then come on,” Feliciano said. “You gotta, like, chill out because it’s a piece of artwork, honestly, and it’s something you enjoy and that you love and you want it to be all you forever, [so] just do it.”

Feliciano went deeper into her view on tattoos and life in, eventually ending up with an inspiring message about the dangers of not branching out.

“If you live your whole life being hesitant about stuff, you’re not going to branch out and do other things,” Feliciano said. “In the end, you kind of forget [your tattoos] are there. For me, I kind of forget I have [tattoos], because they just become a part of you; they are a part of you.”