by Esther Lee
Like fashion, tattoos are a form of self-expression that can represent anything from a personal statement to a cherished memory. They can say a lot about a person, but behind every tattoo is usually a deeper, more meaningful story. In order to learn more about our own Georgetown community, I sat down with a couple students to ask about their tattoos.
Esther: What tattoos do you have?
Hadley: I have one tattoo on my arm near my wrist that says “Stay.”
E: What inspired you to get your tattoo?
H: At the time, I felt like I was running away from a lot of things in my life, and I thought of the word stay because of this Buddhist text I was reading. It was talking a lot about being in the present moment and not running away from things.
E: When and where did you get your tattoo?
H: I got the tattoo right after I turned 18. The place I got the tattoo is in San Francisco on Hate Street—Hate Ashbury Tattoo. It has a really good reputation.
E: Did you contemplate for a while before getting your tattoo and have you ever considered getting anything else?
H: I actually got the idea for my tattoo a week before I got it—I hadn’t been thinking about getting a tattoo really at all but when I thought about what I wanted to get and how I wanted to remember it forever, I decided to get it. The expression is really meaningful to me, so it made sense to me to get a tattoo. And it happened to be perfect timing because I had just turned 18.
E: Are there more tattoos that you would want to get in the future?
H: I didn’t want to fall into the tattoo addiction when I got it. I wanted to stick with one because I didn’t want the first one to lose its value. So far I’ve been good about keeping this promise but everyone I know that has gotten a tattoo has given into the addiction.
E: When you look at your tattoo, what does it make you think of?
H: When I look down at my tattoo, I think of how I felt when I got it, and it reminds me how important it is for me to not be in that place again.
E: Do you have any advice for other people who want to get tattoos?
H: First of all, get someone who’s actually good at what they’re doing. But second of all, get a tattoo artist who is funny—you have to sit through the pain, and if I wasn’t talking to someone during the process I don’t think I wouldn’t have been able to finish. Also, especially if you’re getting something big and anything that requires actual artistic talent, then it’s very important to get a talented artist.
Esther: What tattoos do you have?
Lily: I have two tattoos—one’s behind my left ear and the other is on my left shoulder. The one behind my ear is the symbol for the National Eating Disorder Association. The one on my shoulder is the coordinates of my home in New Jersey and my home in Korea.
E: Are you planning on getting any more?
L: I’m getting the coordinates for Georgetown after I graduate—but after I graduate, because you never know… It’s possible that I’ll get more because the ones I have now were pretty spontaneous.
E: What inspired you to get your tattoos?
L: The coordinates are because I get extremely attached to places. It also symbolizes how I’m from two different cultures and how they’re both part of me. The National Eating Disorder Association one is because a close friend of mine had suffered through an eating disorder. As someone who has always had body image issues and seeing someone suffer from it as well made me want to get something to remind me to be comfortable in my own body.
E: How long did you think about what to get before getting it?
L: I thought about getting something since my freshman year of high school so I always had a few ideas laid out. But I actually got it during the first winter break of college since I needed to make sure that I was certain and that it was something I definitely wanted on my body forever—not something that I wanted as a teenager trying to rebel against my parents.
E: Where did you get it done?
L: A tattoo parlor in Korea where I also got my piercings done so he’s known me for a while. I actually went with my friend from high school who’s tighter with the tattoo artist than I am. She got me a discount!
E: How did your friends/family react?
L: My sister was more freaked out than my mom—she’s overprotective but my mom doesn’t really care… My close friends weren’t surprised, but other people were very shocked. I realized that the way I told people about it determined how they reacted. I didn’t make it a big deal, so everyone acted chill with it too.
E: What’s your advice for people who also want tattoos?
L: You should know the tattoo artist well, or at least know someone who knows them well. And don’t be afraid to ask the artist to check up on this and make sure you speak your mind. If you have low pain tolerance, definitely do not get a tattoo. And remember to do it for yourself—don’t put something on your body like another people’s initials. Finally, people are going to judge you in some way about your tattoo but don’t listen to any of that.